Insights and updates from the vs team

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Virtualstock wins contract with Dixons Carphone to deliver world class drop ship solution

Europe’s leading multi-channel specialist electrical and telecommunications retailer, Dixons Carphone is Virtualstock's latest client win. The contract will see Dixons Carphone deploying Virtualstock’s industry leading software platform, The Edge™, as it looks to transform the drop ship business of Currys PC World. You can read media coverage of the news below and download the official press release.

Virtualstock Closes Strategic Investment Round from Notion Capital

Virtualstock (VS) has closed a $6m investment round with Notion Capital, Europe’s leading B2B SaaS Venture Capital (VC) firm, to support its next phase of growth. You can read a post-announcement interview with VS CEO Andrew Mills in the Daily Telegraph below and click through to further coverage and the official press release.

Scan4Safety and Virtualstock Supplier Day Success

In an effort to inform their suppliers, one of the Scan4safety demonstrator sites, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust (NTH), recently hosted a supplier event to share their Scan4Safety programme journey so far.

The intention of the event was to brief their suppliers on the GS1 and PEPPOL standards as mandated within the Department of Health e-Procurement Strategy published in May 2014, as well as inform them of their chosen catalogue management solution – Virtualstock’s The Edge. They shared their expectations of the suppliers in order to meet their project timelines as well as timelines set out for suppliers by the Department of Health.

Tracey Cramond, e-Procurement Project Support Manager – Scan4Safety Project stated, “We believe that “The Edge” is the right solution for our Trust.  We are confident that The Edge offers our suppliers an “easy to use” dynamic catalogue solution that not only allows them to have ownership of their data, but also gives them a platform to easily manage and enrich their data in “real time”, which will bring huge benefits to both the Trust and our suppliers.  We’re very excited about the future and how we are going to enhance our working relations with our suppliers around catalogue and data management.”

Virtualstock founder, Ed Bradley, also gave suppliers a detailed overview of the catalogue functionality and the associated benefits it will bring to NTH. 

“Virtualstock is delighted to be working with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to provide their catalogue solution. As a demonstrator site, NTH is an extremely important part of the NHS e-Procurement strategy. We look forward to working closely with the team to deliver new generation technology that delivers true and measurable cost savings for the NHS.” Ed Bradley – Director/Co-Founder

Several notable hospitals have already agreed to use the system - The Shelford Group, a collection of Trusts that comprises England’s ten leading NHS multi-specialty academic healthcare organisations, and an extensive number of Trusts together with every NHS Clinical Commissioning Group through the recent partnership with Virtualstock and NHS Shared Business Services.

VIDEO: Rob Knott on the NHS Digital Procurement Marketplace

For the Big Ideas Summit 2017, Virtualstock director Rob Knott was asked to elaborate on his Big Idea for 2017 - the NHS digital procurement marketplace formed from a partnership between Virtualstock and NHS Shared Business Services.

                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8slx4HuYHBc

                                                  

Virtualstock's John Lewis deal makes the headlines

Virtualstock (VS) has been appointed by leading omnichannel retailer John Lewis to provide a collaborative workspace for John Lewis and their suppliers. You can read the extensive press coverage of the deal and the official press release below.

Virtualstock has revolutionised supply and delivery systems and will unleash huge potential for John Lewis to gain further ground as a leading retailer.

Virtualstock’s technology platform (“The Edge”) to be implemented at leading UK teaching hospitals across England

The Edge will be adopted as the common catalogue management solution by the Shelford Group, which comprises ten leading NHS multi-specialty academic healthcare organisations, after Lord Carter highlights VS in his landmark report into operational productivity and efficiency in NHS England.

 

Partnership aims to save NHS £millions with retail tech

Government owned joint-venture NHS Shared Business Services partners with retail technology leader Virtualstock to improve efficiencies and reduce costs in NHS procurement.

 

Technology used by retail giants ranging from Tesco to Argos could now save the NHS millions of pounds, as a result of a new partnership between NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) and British technology company Virtualstock.

Virtualstock's Rob Knott talks to Share Radio about NHS cost savings

Virtualstock's Rob Knott was invited on Share Radio to talk about how Virtualstock is helping NHS Trusts to realise the cost savings identified by Lord Carter.

We're looking for a new Project Manager!

 

An exciting opportunity for a skilled Project Manager at digital disruptor Virtualstock!

This is your invitation to join a great team at our new offices in Reading who are focused on delighting our customers at every stage of their journey. With a client list that includes leading retailers such as Tesco and Sainbury’s Argos, and a growing client list in the NHS, including Guy’s & St Thomas’, your role will be central in helping grow this game-changing business.

Interested? Read on!

ABOUT YOU

A Project Manager with experience working on software delivery projects within an Agile environment, from initial design through to implementation, on both internal and business-critical client projects. 

Applying a broad set of project management techniques, you will work with stakeholders and Business Analysts to define and agree detailed project scope, deliverables, project success criteria and objectives.

Knowledge, skills and experience:-

• Demonstrable project management experience within the software delivery space 

• Experience of working within an Agile/Scrum environment

• Track record of delivery on multiple full lifecycle projects 

• Experience of leading/managing other team members 

• Strong problem solving skills

• Good negotiation and influencing skills

• Excellent written and verbal communication and presentation skills

• Excellent customer relationship skills

If your application is successful, in return for your experience and commitment, you will receive a salary of £40K-£55K plus additional benefits.

ABOUT US

Virtualstock is the leading British technology company in the provision of digital supply chain optimisation services. Founded in 2004, the team combine deep industry knowledge to transform complex supply chains within the Retail and Public sectors, enabling clients to also be the disruptors, not the disrupted.

Based in brand new offices in the centre of Reading, a stone’s throw from the station, we are a friendly bunch who enjoy working together and look forward to welcoming new members to the team!

Please send your CV to tim.ferguson@virtualstock.co.uk (no agencies please).

 

 

 

BLOG: Black Friday – a steel fist in a velvet glove?

Black Friday is almost upon us but it's not all win-win when it comes to the ultimate shopping bun fight.

It all seems like a great idea to drive consumer spending into a frenzy but there's something reassuringly British about the response of those retailers who see the event as something of a steel fist in a velvet glove.

A view perfectly summed up by Andy Street of John Lewis who previously opined, “It is not in the industry’s interest to focus so much trade onto one day. You want more steady trade and obviously you want more of it at full price.”

Technically, Black Friday arrived in the UK five years ago when Amazon adopted the US phenomenon, US-owned Asda then followed in 2013 and last year most major UK retailers including Marks & Spencer and Argos took the plunge.

Interestingly, it is one of the initial trailblazers, Asda, that has decided to slash Black Friday this year citing shopper fatigue for such lightning price drop events.

However, fatigued or not, plenty of British consumers still seem to love it, with shoppers spending a record £810 million online on the big day last year. In fact, UK consumers created such a scene last year in the stampede for deals in store that the UK media developed something of an obsession with the scenes of pure consumer chaos.

This year, sales are predicted to smash through the £1 billion mark with more than £12,000 estimated to be spent every second online during Black Friday.

However, amid these mind-boggling stats there is the major fear that this all takes business from the crucial Christmas trading period and at rock bottom prices that can mean you’re in a potential scenario where you are robbing Peter to pay Paul and getting a margin crush into the bargain.

Also, consider the alarming website traffic spike that this event brings with it. Now obviously that's great IF your site and IT infrastructure can handle the pressure but if it can’t you risk significant brand damage and consumer dissatisfaction with online downtime and crashing baskets.

Indeed, retailer twitter feeds were lit up last year with tales of slow crashing sites and arduous page load times that created a mass gnashing of teeth.

That’s the kind of stuff that retailers can do without, but the question is can they really dare to opt out of such a consumer-driven phenomenon? 

UK consumers created such a scene last year in the stampede for deals in store that the UK media developed something of an obsession with the scenes of pure consumer chaos.

SpendMatters interviews Virtualstock's Rob Knott

SpendMatters welcomed Virtualstock's new Director of Healthcare and Public Sector Rob Knott with a Q&A interview in which they discuss Rob's goals with Virtualstock and what the company can bring to the public sector.

Blog: The Edge for NHS Procurement

Lord Carter of Coles published his interim report for the ‘Review of Operational Productivity in NHS providers’ in June 2015.

The ambition of this review and the prize it seeks is huge. Based on the data so far available he believes that savings of up to £5bn per annum could be realised by 2020, with optimisation of procurement contributing at least £1bn of savings, and more if electronic procurement is used to reduce holding levels and wastage of pharmaceuticals.

Just considering procurement of everyday consumables, high-value medical devices and common goods & services it is clear that there is huge price variability (>35% in some cases), real challenges in invoice matching (18% matching across the cohort of 20 hospitals surveyed) and ineffective catalogue management (500,000 items vs best practice of 6,000 - 9,000 items).

His recommendations in this area are clear; implement an Adjusted Treatment Index to measure performance, develop a ‘model NHS hospital’ framework that describes best practice, optimise pharmacy while maintaining or improving patient outcomes and develop an effective and efficient approach to catalogue management.

But he also recognises that change must come from the within the NHS itself, supported by, but not led from the centre.

That’s where Virtualstock’s The Edge comes in.

We are working with the NHS’ largest teaching hospital to transform their Purchase To Pay process, delivering control, compliance and an optimised catalogue.

The first phase will enrol the catalogues and prices of their largest suppliers, which will cover around 60% of their consumables spend. This will be followed by enrolling the long tail of smaller suppliers, allowing them to make their full ranges available.

Requisitioners and category managers will have rich product data, price transparency and product availability information at their finger tips so that they can make the best purchasing decisions.

The second phase will be to open up the platform for order management, which will give all stakeholders end to end visibility of the supply chain, order status and procurement performance.

 

However, once suppliers have loaded their catalogues these can then be exposed to any other NHS Trust that they supply or indeed want to supply. And any NHS Trust can discover new suppliers.

Virtualstock’s The Edge, delivering cost effective and scaleable change, led from within the Trusts themselves, ensuring best practice and best prices at the point of purchase.

And without IT change on the critical path.

Virtualstock’s The Edge, delivering cost effective and scaleable change, led from within the Trusts themselves, ensuring best practice and best prices at the point of purchase.

ARTICLE: Why the NHS must replicate retail

The Health Service Journal says the NHS has the greatest purchasing power in the UK but should look at the retail industry to ensure better management procedures are put in place and the significant wastage of NHS supplies is brought to an end.

Blog: The Social Shopper - social media and the ecommerce revolution

The social media giants are setting their sights on ecommerce like never before.

When you have a captive audience of billions it's a pretty obvious next step and perhaps a little surprising that Mr Zuckerberg and his chums haven't arrived here in earnest a little earlier.

Sure, Facebook did try this route before in an earlier undercooked effort, christened ‘fcommerce’, in 2011 when the social media leader convinced high profile brands like Gap and J.C. Penney to open stores on the site through their business pages.

However, those stores were all closed within a year but like all entrepreneurial organisations it looks like mistakes were learnt and the approach refined. Certainly they mean serious business now.

A recent report from BI Intelligence looked at social media’s impact on online retail through the use of embedded “Buy” buttons on social media posts and the referring of traffic to retailers’ websites and apps. It found that social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals by almost 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.

And Facebook has become comfortably the top ‘social commerce’ platform within those stats, accounting for 64% of total social revenue and 50% of total social referrals. Instagram, Pinterest and twitter are following firmly behind but no less committed to the ecommerce push and all platforms are having a significant effect on online retail as a whole.

Facebook is now making it even easier to shop direct on the platform and a cheeky hunt through its patent application filings shows that the social media behemoth just filed for something called ‘Systems and Methods for Using a Social Networking System to Purchase Products’. According to the filing this involves providing communication including information to purchase a product to a social networking system user, providing a selectable option to purchase the product from the social networking system and initiating a purchase of the product in response to a selection of the selectable option by a user. Yes we know that's a mouthful but you get the idea.

Facebook has also announced plans to enable businesses to sell products direct in a shop section on its pages and has already set about redesigning its pages to include sections for business services and retail items. The company also claims it has already helped 45 million businesses launch digital storefronts.

Not wishing to miss the bandwagon, Pinterest has also expanded its own buy buttons – which they call Buyable Pins.

Meanwhile, payments start-up Stripe has announced its new service Relay which allows companies to sell products through tweets on Twitter. Stripe already powers the Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest buy buttons.

At a Fortune magazine brainstorming session in July Stripe co-founder John Collison said shoppers on mobile will see the immediate advantage of buying on social media in a single step and that “apps that don’t have this are going to seem broken by comparison.”


So it's all go but what is this really all about?

Well, with the social media giants anxious to point out (at least for now) that they aren’t taking a cut of sales this concerted effort into boosting ecommerce is all about keeping you locked into their virtual worlds.

The social media platforms simply want to give you fewer and fewer reasons to leave. A bit like being plied with tea and cake by those grandparents that moan that they never see you. Pretty soon it’ll just be toilet breaks that will get you off there and don't be surprised if social media is looking at a way around that too. Facebook and Twitter partnering with Armitage Shanks? You read it here first.

 

..this concerted effort into boosting ecommerce is all about keeping you locked into their virtual worlds.

Press release: Virtualstock names Mills as new CEO

Global omnichannel technology provider, Virtualstock (VS) has announced the appointment of Andrew Mills as Chief Executive Officer.

Mills brings a wealth of experience as an established business leader, most recently demonstrated with Samsung in his role as Vice President of the European Enterprise Business Team. With proven success in growing companies through focused business strategy and acquisition, Mills will add outstanding  leadership qualities to VS and oversee  the strategic direction, expansion and operation of the business.
 “The board is thrilled that Andrew will be joining the team,” said Ed Bradley, Co-Founder of VS.“ Andrew shares our values and our focus on innovation, and we look forward to benefiting from his valuable insight”
“ VS is at the forefront of emerging technologies that enable businesses to create new ways of working in the digital world,” said Mills. “ I am delighted to join such an innovative and forward-thinking organisation and to have the opportunity to be a part of the company’s continued success”.

 

ABOUT VS 
Virtualstock is a disruptive, British software company at the forefront of today’s technology revolution. With a decade of cloud expertise, VS deliver radical solutions, enabling organisation’s to plan, grow and achieve their most ambitious missions.
VS’s game changing approach challenges the costly and time-consuming process of traditional systems integration. Utilising agile, open source technology, the VS team has developed a unique way for information to flow between any set of fragmented systems, without disruption to any existing IT landscape. Data is seamlessly collated, enriched, mapped and validated, allowing only trusted, reliable information to be deployed across the enterprise.
For further information, please visit www.virtualstock.co.uk
ENDS ******************************************************************************

 

For further information please contact;
carolyne.turnbull@virualstock.co.uk
07590541928

 

Article: IBM Global Business Services' Liz Henderson pinpoints VS as trailblazer in new blog

Data management expert and member of the IBM Global Business Services team Liz Henderson has long supported an initiative for exchanging product related data, based around standards, electronically between trading partners. In this blog she reveals how this initiative has gone to another level in the ways business can improve its connection with its suppliers and customers describing the VS solution as one that can "consume data from any system, in any format and output that data to any other system, in any format, in accordance with data owners unique set of business rules".

 

(The VS solution can) consume data from any system, in any format and output that data to any other system, in any format, in accordance with data owners unique set of business rules

Blog: Black Fridays and White Christmases - why the past holiday season was so revealing

This Christmas was a particularly crucial one for retailers as a fully embraced Black Friday came onto the scene as both friend and foe.

The tent-pole discount day in the US retail calendar produced some remarkable sales figures as well as a Christmas headache for some retailers that went far beyond the Boxing Day ones of too much the night before.

Barclaycard reported an online year-on-year sales rise of 37.5% for its highest spending day on record while WorldPay said transactions were up a whopping 124% - and these figures would have been boosted even further if numerous retail websites hadn’t creaked and cracked under the pressure.
Despite the sterling Black Friday figures, the event also caused issues for retailers more accustomed to the carefully forecast build up of sales running up to the Christmas period as the big discount day created something of a false dawn for many and took the edge off of Christmas sales as spending was brought forward by a month and at much lower margins for retailers.
Overall, the festive period did bring notable success stories however in particular at John Lewis where another highly publicised festive ad campaign with a tear-jerking penguin found a place in the hearts and minds of the British public. Hot off a stellar Black Friday – which produced its best ever week of sales – the retailer’s like-for-like sales rose 4.8% for the festive period.
Elsewhere, House of Fraser saw its private label items energise like-for-like sales by 8% and Debenhams saw online sales grew by 28.9% in the four weeks to January 10. Asos was another big winner in the UK as sales grew by 27% in the six weeks to January 9.
On the grocery front, things were a little different with Morrisons coming third in the supermarket battle with Sainsbury’s and Tesco – which reported better-then-expected Christmas sales. Morrisons saw a 3.1% drop in sales for the period, which proved to be Dalton Philips last as CEO. Over at Marks & Spencer an online sales drop of almost 6% was recorded as its new hi-tech distribution centre had a tough time dealing with Black Friday.
Across the board though the Christmas trading period helped to make 2014 a statement year for ecommerce as online sales grew by 14% to £104 billion for the year, according to trade association the IMRG. In 2015, the market is expected to grow by a further 12% to reach £116bn online.

Video: Connecting with the customer through retail innovation

GS1 UK video of Nick Lansley from Tesco Labs, John Gillan from Google and GS1 UK’s own digital team sharing insights on the theme of 'Connecting with the customer through retail innovation’.

 

 

 

ARTICLE: The march of the mobile internet

VS Deutschland head Manfred Siegl addressed the march of the mobile internet, the 'internet of things' and its effect on retail efficiency in an article for German magazine ECIN (German language).

VIDEO: VS at the Ecommerce Awards 2014

The VS team were out in force at the Ecommerce Awards at the Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on Wednesday October 1st. VS were finalists in the Innovation in Ecommerce for Logistics/Delivery

 

ARTICLE: Channelinfo highlights VS awards finalists success

UK business magazine Channelinfo highlights VS' success in being named as finalists in three different awards ceremonies - the Retail Systems Awards, the Retail Week Supply Chain Awards and the Ecommerce Awards for Excellence.

VS chninfo W

Business Matters talks to Ed Bradley about life as an entrepreneur

Business Matters magazine spoke to VS co-founder Ed Bradley about his business inspirations, building The Edge software and lessons learnt throughout his career

 

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Report: Stockbroker hails VS performance for key investor

Stockbroker Beaufort Securities has highlighted the growth and continued high performance of Virtualstock for its key investor Legendary Investments. You can download the full report below.

beau

VS's Ed Bradley writes for The Times technology supplement Raconteur

VS co-founder Ed Bradley was invited by The Times newspaper to write a piece on updating legacy systems and creating a more efficient organisation through cloud technology for its Raconteur technology supplement. Download the full issue of June's Raconteur below (Ed's article is on page 13).

 

VIDEO: VS co-founder presentation at Internet Retailing's Jumpstart Revolver event

VS co-founder Ed Bradley addresses the Big Data issue with his 'Drowning in Data' presentation at Internet Retailing's Jumpstart Revolver event.

 

Article: Essential Retail covers launch of new VS and wnDirect partnership wnOptimise

Essential Retail covers the launch of wnOptimise - the partnership between VS and international logistics specialist wnDirect - in its feature 'New direction for international retail supply chain'.

wnOptimise heralds a new era in international delivery logistics and simplifies the e-commerce global supply chain.

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VIDEO: ASOS named VS Retail Technology Leader of the Year Award at Retail Week Awards

VS co-founder Ed Bradley presents ASOS CIO Peter Marsden with the Virtualstock Retail Technology Leader of the Year award at the BT Retail Week Technology Awards

 

 

 

Blog: VS co-founders address G-Cloud concerns on PublicTechnology.net

From PublicTechnology.net: Peering through the G-Cloud

VS co-founders Ed Bradley and Tim Ingham believe the recent furore over council G-Cloud spending could help open up more contracts for small and medium enterprises.

PublicTechnology.net invited them to write an exclusive opinion piece which you can read here.

 

G cloud

 

The hope must be that this latest furore will provoke action on both sides and the public sector market can be fully opened up for the innovative and progressive SME community that this country is rightly proud of.

Press Release: VS technology now available for the public sector

VS have been accepted onto the UK Government’s G-Cloud 5 framework! This means Public Sector organisations can join the likes of Tesco in benefiting from our innovative solutions.

 

 

ARTICLE: Retail Technology Review covers VS's Little British Battler status award

From retailtechnologyreview.com: Retail software company named in elite group of UK SMEs punching above their weight.

LBB logo

The Little British Battler (LBB) initiative that champions UK SMEs who are successfully competing against bigger, more established companies in the IT and software space has named Virtualstock (VS) among its elite honourees.




We feel the larger players have been coasting by on their perceived brand security … But in the economic times we are now all working in it's simply not good enough to be playing the same old game. It's a time for innovation and creative agility in software and it's about providing transparent and tangible bottom line benefits for your clients.

ARTICLE: VS given Little British Battler status

From Channel Info: Virtualstock given Little British Battler status

The Little British Battler (LBB) initiative that champions UK SMEs who are successfully competing against bigger, more established companies in the IT and software space, has named Virtualstock (VS) among its elite honourees.

Founded by entrepreneur team Tim Ingham and Ed Bradley, VS's The Edge solution seamlessly connects with any existing set of systems and platforms, giving total control of business critical data, without any interference to existing systems. In the current world of 'Big Data' efficiency, The Edge has provided a rapid and flexible alternative to traditional unwieldy systems integrations.

To read more follow the link below.

We feel the larger players have been coasting by on their perceived brand security … But in the economic times we are now all working in it's simply not good enough to be playing the same old game. It's a time for innovation and creative agility in software and it's about providing transparent and tangible bottom line benefits for your clients.

Award: VS gain sought-after Little British Battler status from Tech Market View

From Tech Market View:

Virtualstock is a ten year-old Little British Battler which was born out of its founders’ frustration with the poor information up and down the supply chain in the office supplies retail sector. To solve the problem co-founders Ed Bradley and Tim Ingham spent a number of years using open source technology to develop a cloud-based product that takes data from any location in any format and outputs data to any system and any format in accordance with the data owners’ business rules.

To read more follow the link below.

Article: One view. And then what?

Mike Harrison, Chairman of VS was asked by Internet Retailing to explain the system requirements to allow instant amendments at any point in the product journey. You can read the article here.

 

Predictable shopping habits of old no longer exist.

Article: The challenges of drop-ship

Opinion piece by Carolyne Turnbull, Director of Marketing & Communications at VS, on the challenges of drop-ship, featured in May's edition of OPI Magazine. Article requires membership.

 

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