The Shortis Group
The Shortis Group is one of the largest independent motor spares groups in the country, owned and managed by the family team of Richard Shortis and his father Kevin.
The Shortis Group success story began in 1963 when Kevin Shortis opened his first motorist discount store in Norwich; bringing cut price branded products to local car owners, it was an immediate hit. The group had outlets across the Anglia Region and the East Midlands and in August 2004 the group purchased Motosave Ltd, the largest independent in the North of England, with 24 branches in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Today the group has over 70 trading sites across a large portion of the country, with group sales of over £35m.
Throughout their impressive expansion, Richard has been keen to maintain their philosophy of combining personal, knowledgeable service with the right products at the right price. However, the growing proliferation of part numbers and vehicle applications soon became a problem, as Richard recalls, "It was the late 1990's and our business was growing strongly, but so was our stock profile. The growing number of vehicle models and variants meant it became increasing important to keep an accurate track of the vast number of products and parts we stocked."
The system used by Wilco at the time was MAM's previous character-based 'Trader' system. "Although still operational, Trader was being eclipsed by the new breed of Microsoft Windows-based applications" explains Richard. "As a business looking to move forward, we knew we needed to embrace this modern technology, so we began to look for a replacement."
When specifying their new system, Richard had very specific criteria "Ease of use, range of features and quality of support were our top priorities. We needed a solution that was simple enough for our staff to use, yet flexible enough to cater for our growing needs."
After researching the market thoroughly and test-driving a number of applications,Autopart was installed into the first Wilco branches in 1998. "I have to admit, I was a little jittery when the first stores were due to be implemented", recalls Richard. "It was a significant investment that would shape the future of our business." Happily for Richard, initial nerves were soon calmed as roll-out of their new software progressed throughout their branch network.
Flexibility and simplicity
"When we first saw Autopart, we were extremely impressed" recalls Richard. "The windows environment was quick and simple to use and provided instant access to valuable information directly from point of sale. There was more than enough flexibility in the software to cater for our specific requirements, yet it maintained a simplicity that our users would find attractive."
Complete package solution
However, there was more to MAM's offering, as Richard is keen to point out. "An effective I.T. solution extends far beyond the software. Product support can be a weakest point of a business, but it is here that MAM perform admirably. We were attracted by their complete package and were confident that they could supply exactly what we required."
As additional businesses were acquired, they too were upgraded to run Autopart. "When we acquired the Motosave business in 2004, one of our first priorities was to replace the computer system. By this time, we'd had some experience of running and configuring Autopart, so the whole implementation was a piece of cake."
Today, the entire Shortis Group - over 70 branches in total - run MAM's Autopart software. "Throughout our relationship, MAM have clearly demonstrated that they had the knowledge and resources to support the needs of our business" explains Richard. "Without the Autopart system, we simply would not be where we are today".