Everyone reading this will be well aware of the ongoing supply chain issues reported across the construction industry. As well as physical availability of products, the rapid outstripping of supply by demand is having a significant knock-on effect on pricing of materials, transportation and storage costs. So how can merchants protect their margins and offer a competitive and comprehensive service to customers?

There is no one simple answer. But thanks to rapidly evolving technology, merchants have access to powerful, agile tools to help them meet these challenges. We spoke to Ten-25 MD Ian Oldrey to find out about the features that its cloud-based ERP system Merchanter can offer merchants.

“Supply chain” is a broad term and covers a great many individual processes and components, said Mr Oldrey. It is therefore vital to be able to monitor the finer details accurately and quickly, but also to see how they fit together to impact the whole business.

“Traditionally it took a lot of time and effort to find useful information in an ERP system, and it wasn’t always easy to cross-reference data,” he said. “These days, you don’t need a computing degree to work a system – Merchanter is designed to have the relevant information for your individual role in your line of sight, so you’re never more than a couple of clicks from what you need to know.”

This simplicity of use and ease of access to information underpins the whole system’s appeal, making every process faster, and ensuring data is accurate and up-to-date across the business.

“This is a true cloud system, meaning it doesn’t need anything more than an internet browser to log into,” said Mr Oldrey. “So people in the yard, on the road, out at a meeting or working remotely can both input and access information really fast. That means everyone is always working on the correct information, so it really helps when planning, allocating and replenishing stock.”

Ten-25 has incorporated over 110 KPIs into Merchanter, helping merchants to be able to see the information they need more easily. And many of these KPIs provide incredibly useful features when it comes to forecasting, stock optimisation and price setting.


With prices rising so rapidly, merchants need to cover against replenishment increases from one order to the next, rather than simply checking the average buying price. The Merchanter system builds in a buffer, by raising the standard cost price as the last cost price goes up. And if you are able to source stock at a reduced price, the standard cost won’t drop, so you’re not penalised for any ad hoc bargains.

The advantages are that you won’t have to manually adjust prices week to week, you’ll always have an accurate, moving picture of pricing in the market and of course, you won’t be caught out by how fast prices are going up, making it a win all round.

The system lets you set up margin protection at whatever level you like, so you can be confident your profit margins are safe. You also get total flexibility over credit control and alerts, so any member of the team placing an order can see at a glance which customers may have outstanding debts.

Merchanter also lets you monitor supplier reliability with a range of metrics to let you see how well suppliers have performed in the past, such as what percentage of orders were on time, price changes and credit terms.

Being able to see an up-to-date, accurate picture of what stock you have available where is essential, and with an ERP system that allows every member of the workforce to input information from anywhere at any time, it has never been easier to achieve. But Merchanter goes beyond that, and is packed with features to help you actively optimise your stock profile, availability and profitability.

KPIs like Stock Turn help you see at a glance which product lines and individual items are selling well, how frequently and how profitably, letting you make crucial adjustments that add up to big changes. The system has a grading system that lets you see very simply how different stock lines are performing, letting you make smarter choices about how to sell through particular lines, or giving you reliable information about how frequently to restock.


Stock Confidence is a feature developed specifically for Merchanter, a metric which calculates the accuracy of your stock figures over time to help you gauge the need for manual checks and replenishment, and highlighting potential risks before they become problematic. Based on a complex algorithm that assesses accuracy erosion over time, it provides a great insight for scalable perpetual inventory and instantly highlights potential issues and gaps in your stock profile.

The need for accurate reporting has never been so acute, and modern ERP systems are equipped to provide exceptional insight into future stock needs based on a wide range of criteria or circumstances. Easily compare year-on-year trends, get alerted before stock gaps become an issue, and have a much clearer idea not just of what stock you have, but what you can get, at what price, and when. That gives you more time to track down the stock you need and comes with less risk as your figures are more accurate. It also reduces the stockholding capacity as you’re able to operate more efficiently.

One of the brilliant things about modern systems architecture is its flexibility. Technology changes so quickly these days, it would be impossible to keep up using legacy systems as the updates and maintenance are so time consuming and disruptive. With a modern, cloud-based system, you’re always working on the latest version and, crucially, the opportunities to integrate with third party apps, plug-ins or platforms create an almost endless potential for evolution.

“It’s not just your own ERP system that is easy to update,” said Mr Oldrey. “As other developers produce niche solutions for particular areas of the business, it’s becoming easier to integrate those so you have almost unlimited access to best-in-class features without the cost and delay of getting your ERP provider to develop them in-house.”

This concept lies at the heart of “agile” methodology – that you don’t have to have all the answers up front, but can be confident in the flexibility of your system to be able to access the answers as you need them. So for example, a small start-up merchant currently using Sage or Xero could easily upgrade trading and stock management with Merchanter, but keep the accounts expertise of the former. It’s more efficient, faster to get on board, and means you’re only paying for the features you really need.

The internet and digital technology have opened all kinds of doors in recent years. Merchants now have access to tools which can connect them with suppliers across the country, and the world, to obtain the stock they need, with comparison sites and online selling becoming more and more common.

But it also opens the way for enhanced communication; with customers, suppliers, logistics channels and more. When your information is reliably up to date at all times, it makes it much easier to stay on top of purchasing, stock and selling, but also supplier relationships, finances and industry news. Being able to track a huge range of metrics simply gives you an enormous advantage and means you are equipped to make smarter decisions, faster, with less risk.