THE LINK BETWEEN MANUFACTURER AND CUSTOMER
Traditionally Solar has been a technical wholesaler in the area of electrical engineering, plumbing, heating and ventilation technology. With no less than 350,000 unique items, of which 60,000 items are in stock in the distribution centres in Alkmaar and Duiven, they form an important link between the manufacturer and the customer.
Since 2014 Olav Vissers is Vice President Supply Chain at Solar. He tells about an important strategic change that was implemented recently. “We are in the middle of a transformation in which we change from a technical wholesaler into a sourcing and services company. Instead of selling for the manufacturer we put our focus on procuring for the customer. By doing that we will be guided by the fast changing wishes and needs of the customers. How can we solve things for them? We have to adjust our service offerings to that.”
Crucial role for the driver
On 15 October 2015 Solar closed a renewed 5 year contract with GVT Group of Logistics. In the large national distribution network, of which Greuter and HSL are also a part, no less than 350,000 drops are made for Solar each year. “Together with the GVT Group we have started a transport optimisation project, in which we have abandoned the dedicated transport solution in favour of a semi-dedicated solution”, Vissers recounts. “This means that other cargo can be co-loaded by GVT, improving the efficiency on certain routes. We already had excellent rates, but now they are even more competitive. This is a win/win situation for both parties.” Also within this new concept the driver, delivering the goods at the customer, plays a crucial role. “Do not underestimate that role. A driver is the visiting card of Solar and determines in that “last mile” the service experience and customer satisfaction to a large extent”, according to Olav Vissers.
Control Tower function
Solar has some exciting plans for the cooperation with GVT Group of Logistics. “Using our partnership we want to enhance our control, for instance to improve the visibility of the products in the chain”, says Vissers. “In our industry this is an area still in the early stages of development, on the basis of their experience GVT can give us sound advice. For instance, they are able to send a customer a text message advising them of the correct delivery time. Our systems are also being prepared for that.”
There are more challenges Solar wishes to tackle together with GVT Group of Logistics, like reducing the number of empty-truck-kilometres and the introduction of home deliveries for the ever expanding B-2-C market. “We brainstorm about this with GVT and they come up with good ideas. It is a company with a pragmatic approach, a hands-on mentality”, according to Vissers. “They are easy to contact and they react quickly. In the past I have worked with huge transport companies. If I had a problem there was no point in trying to reach them after hours in the evening or in the weekend. I can always ring Wil or Stan, which is great. I am confident that we will be able to expand our business together, to improve and realise further growth.”