A Single Wholesale Operations System
for the whole supply chain

In this case study we will not be focusing on a specific client, project, solution and outcome. Instead, we will talk about our various activities and interventions in the manufacture-wholesale-retail supply chain. These three distinct components of the chain often face similar challenges and we have been heavily involved with clients at all stages, delivering effective solutions.

Supply chain optimisation is just one of the areas in which  ISKU

The Clients

Over the past 10 years, ISKU has worked with retail, wholesale and manufacturing clients from a diverse range of industry sectors. Since we are talking about a wide variety of businesses, some of them in competition with each other and others prefer not to go fully public with details of their internal systems, we’ll refrain from disclosing the identities of specific clients out of respect for market sensitivity.

The Challenge

It’s sufficient to say that we have amassed considerable experience in both the similarities and differences between all parts of the supply chain. Some of their major challenges centre on operational capacity and the competing pressures of resources, staffing and efficiency.

The issue of inventory management is another concern that arises frequently. Every member of the chain wants goods to move swiftly from one end to the other since there is no profit in static products. However, the complexities of ensuring that the right quantities are produced and held in stock without putting unnecessary pressure on cash flow and capacity is a constant headache. Not only is it essential to be able to fulfil customer orders, but it is equally important not to oversupply or ignore warnings of the impending shortage.

Technological challenges often revolve around difficulties of integration with third-party applications. Off-the-shelf packages can be very useful but they are also limited when it comes to scaling. Furthermore, they are not guaranteed to work well with add-ons, especially bespoke ones. Integration with the major supply chain solutions is something of a Holy Grail and has often proved prohibitively expensive. Finding an affordable alternative which is versatile and sophisticated enough to run complete wholesale and retail solutions without using enterprise software has never been easy.

The Solution

The problem of integration is one  ISKU has devoted years of work to solving. Every client is individual, with very specific requirements but across the spectrum, there are patterns and generalities which make clear the kinds of answers that are needed. We have prioritised our efforts in two key areas.

Firstly we recognised that a unified central platform was urgently needed and that this could be achieved by establishing a trusted network of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers all adopting the platform as their standard operating system.

Secondly, we knew this could only be done effectively by using the very best technology available. The solution was never going to be a bargain-basement option, but if it were built in strict adherence to the identifiable needs of the supply chain, it would be an investment on which the return could be substantial.

Ultimately every organisation in the supply chain simply wants to concentrate on the production, supply and sale of goods. Removing the hurdles and the distractions was ISKU's role.

Data and communication are the central pillars of our solution. All parties, including logistics firms, can find it a struggle to provide accurate real-time data. The swift and smooth communication of order levels, timeframes, quantities, locations and many other details are examples of the crucial data needed to guarantee optimum supply chain performance.

The tools we’ve developed are provided in a single web application to ensure consistency and compatibility. They include product and inventory management functions with unlimited fields, customisable product feeds, real-time stock feeds, API system connectivity, integration with proprietary software, comprehensive retailer portals and live support services.

The Result

Manufacturing, wholesale and retail clients of all sizes have benefited from our multi-disciplinary approach. With ISKU's solutions, they have increased operational capacity, established successful ecommerce channels, overcome the challenges of scalability and achieved highly effective integration. Our managed solution is easy to use with little or no technological know-how and our client dashboard provides extensive analytics capabilities as well as the option for us to set up custom metrics.

Supply chain optimisation is just one of the areas in which  ISKU has a proven track record of significant success and client satisfaction.
core video

client x
client requested to remain anonymous

Client x founded in 2018, is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the UK. Following a £5 million seed funding round, Client x is now progressing to a Series A round expected to bring £20 million into the company. In just three years it has gone from a virtual standing start to the likelihood of pulling in annual revenue of £100 million with a workforce set to expand to 80 by 2023.

strategy and dedication, inextricably bound to the success of Olivia’s.

The Challenge

The concept behind the organisation was simple but ambitious: to search the world for the finest examples of furniture and homeware, bringing them together in one accessible online place. The criteria for inclusion under the brand were quality, innovation, craftsmanship and style. Pieces might be sourced from a major company in China or a small artisan concern in South America, a factory floor or a village workshop and anywhere in between.In the beginning, the entire operation was run by just three people. Client X approached  ISKU for help with an existential challenge. He knows that any high-end retail enterprise is built on the quality and marketability of its brands. What he needed was a strategy to bring brands of that calibre into the brand's tent. Understanding that you don’t acquire new brands simply by flexing your investment muscles or demonstrating your growth potential. You do it by skilful brand management, maintenance of brand integrity and a thorough appreciation of the complex relationship, often manifested as conflict, between online and bricks and mortar retail. We were asked to partner with Brand x in turbocharging the expansion of their range and propel the company into the front rank of homeware e-commerce.

The Solution

We set an exacting timescale to make the progress we were tasked to achieve. In just two years we approached and established long-term partnerships with some 20 high-profile international brands. These included Tom Dixon, Eichholtz, Norman Copenhagen and Pacini E Cappellini, some of the most inventive homeware brands in Europe.

Our initial agreements were based on the negotiation of preferential rates in order to improve the gross profit margin and, When their buying power began to increase, it became possible to revisit the original terms from a position of strength. In some cases, we negotiated exclusivity on specific product ranges while in others, we were granted sole reseller status.

Beneficial partnerships are constructed on broader foundations than terms alone, so we instigated a programme of measures designed to deliver significant mutual benefits.

- We initiated collaborative advertising and marketing campaigns between Client X and the partner brands.

- We graduated from the original system of issuing pro forma invoices to setting up accounts with credit limits.

- We enhanced operational productivity by assembling a cost-efficient offshore data entry team.

- We outsourced the provision of product descriptions to a professional content delivery service in order to procure unique copy for every item.

- We created a team to manage an online search programme which has substantially increased pay-per-click return on investment.

- We positioned a development team to devise, develop and implement in-house systems designed to enable rapid, sustainable scaling and growth.

The Result

Its year-on-year growth to Q1 2021 was 800% and it is predicted to achieve a CAGR of 1300% by 2023.

panther logistics

Based in Northampton, Panther Logistics was founded in 1989 as a freight forwarder. The impact of the 2008 recession inspired a rethink of the company’s model and in 2010, work began on reinventing Panther as a 2-person delivery service provider. The new-look business launched in 2011 and spent the next decade opening more than 10 depots nationwide, acquiring businesses and expanding its client base. It is now the UK’s largest independent company offering 2-person delivery services. Panther specialises in the retail and ecommerce sectors with particular expertise and experience in the handling of furniture and homeware for high-profile clients including Decathlon, Dunelm, Habitat, Maze, Silentnight and Wayfair.


The Challenge

According to Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, the logistics sector contributes £127 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy. In 2020, ecommerce accounted for 28.1% of retail sales, up from 19.2% the previous year. However, the same report reveals that there are 205,380 logistics enterprises in the UK. That’s one for roughly every 150 households. The logistics market is massively overcrowded and this would appear to be unsustainable.

In this context, standing out ahead of your competitors is a profound challenge. Although Panther had the professional skills and resources required of a leading logistics firm, they lacked the leverage and profile to grow the business. They had no unique selling point to offer and their identity was not sufficiently distinctive. In a sector where thousands of companies are fighting both locally and nationally for contracts, Panther needed a strategy to raise their visibility above the pack.

The Solution

Panther asked Logicc* to devise a strategy that would turn their brand into an essential choice for ecommerce enterprises. We immediately undertook a thorough audit of the company’s services and systems. We identified a demand that was currently under-supplied nationally and well within Panther’s capabilities. We worked with Panther to develop a new 2-person white-glove delivery service, which would be ideal for customers of businesses selling high-ticket items requiring extra care in their carriage and handling. At the same time, we explored a wide range of operational issues which could be improved, transformed or replaced to give the Panther service significant traction with their target B2B customers.

The key service upgrades we introduced to increase the appeal of Panther’s proposition are these.

Track and Trace - Customers expect fast, safe delivery but they have also become accustomed to being able to monitor the progress of their purchase. Our fully bespoke trace and trace solution enables clients and their customers to follow the movement of goods with real-time updates.

Client Portal -  Although their clients are entrusting the fulfilment function to Panther, they still wish to exert control over the process, which is what our full-service web portal allows Panther to offer. Orders can be uploaded and tracked via a system that is easily accessible 24 hours a day.

Integrations - we developed a robust EDI system and client facing APIs capable of managing thousands of orders every day also providing vital information like capacity and date availability. Furthermore, they are easily integrated with third-party APIs such as Metapack.

Mobile - All Panther drivers and delivery personnel with custom mobile apps that capture electronic proof of delivery and supply data for live GPS tracking and order status updates. The equipment also enables smart barcode scanning to provide end-to-end traceability to clients.

WMS (cross-dock) - Custom cross-dock warehouse systems we designed and implemented to give real-time location information and to minimize goods handling and accelerate product through-flow.

Routing - Our software solutions integrate with industry-standard planning and routing software to deliver great efficiency in the use of driver time and logistics resources.

Customer Notifications - through a variety of triggers and business rules, end-customers receive SMS and email alerts email alerts with booking information, status updates and links to the self-service tracking page where  as well as enabling interactive communication so that customers can provide safe place information and make re-bookings or cancellations directly with the delivery team. Systems Integration. Streamlining of processes is crucial to efficiencies and cost savings. The software solutions we supplied to Panther can be fully integrated with their clients’ systems, ensuring speed, clarity and transparency.

Live Support - A variety of communication channels are open to customers including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Web Chat.  

Having implemented these service improvements, we then set about creating a new identity for Panther, completely recalibrating the brand with a major relaunch using online platforms, exhibitions, PR campaigns, video, social media and more.

The Result

The outcome of this project was remarkable both operationally and financially. The private equity firm LDC invested in Panther Logistics in 2016 as part of a £17 million management buyout led by Chief Executive Colin McCarthy. This funded extensive expansion into new locations, services and contracts as well as enhanced technological capabilities. Over four years Panther created more than 300 jobs, doubled its sales above £60 million and increased profits by 300%.

In 2020 the Chicago-based transportation management giant AIT acquired Panther for an undisclosed sum.

*Logicc was the previous business name of ISKU

COMPLETE Supply chain optimisation


homeware brand, 800% growth q1