Trading places


Last week consultancy and software provider ABS announced that it has set up a dedicated OP division which will launch the company’s software into the open realms of OP manufacturers and distributors in the UK.

Until now, ABS’s electronic trading initiative, Intelligent Document Exchange  (IDE), has been solely available for manufacturers and dealers that go through Spicers. But Andy James, director of ABS’s new OP division, believes that with the high demand he has seen, it makes sense to make the product available to the UK’s OP division as a whole. 


He explained to OPI+: "Now we have an understanding of the OP business dynamics, we are seeing a real need among Spicers’ manufacturers as we get them adopted onto the system; they want more e-trading with their distributors. The idea of a market sector-specific solution has been discussed in the OP sector for some time and along with Spicers we believe we are well-placed to make the vision a reality."


ABS’s IDE allows manufacturers and distributors to exchange data relating to transactions, orders and prices. For manufacturers, it offers efficiency of delivering clean orders and a closer customer relationship; for dealers, it provides supply chain visibility, a smooth account-payable process and increased operating efficiency.


But the real benefit of the system compared to other dealer systems such as ERP programmes, said James, is the trading partner adoption and connectivity that it offers. "At present Spicers works with each manufacturer to integrate the systems and we plan to spend time with trading partners to get as many of them as possible on board… It’s about independently connecting companies."


At present, Spicers’ top 30 manufacturers – representing 70 per cent of the wholesaler’s purchasing – use the ABS system. This number is what James describes as a "sensible balance of investment and a good starting point". The plan is to build a portfolio of as many manufacturers as possible and roll it out to the top 20 or 30 distributors across the UK industry.  


ABS is already working with other wholesalers and contract stationers, although it would disclose no names.


As well as having a big impact on the UK’s OP industry, James also expects the newly-created OP division to have a big impact on the company itself. "We expect the OP division to stand up on its own, and with the right marketing and sales prospects, the division should have a big impact on sales and revenue over the next three years," he said. "We expect it to start slowly and build momentum as trading relationships grow. Next year will be about finding a few key partners and year two and three will be about significant rapid growth. "


ABS is currently offering a free workshop to discuss the current and future status of electronic trading activity. For more information, visit: