The Bechtle.com portal (previously known as bios®) provides a single customised web portal for the entire Merlin organisation and is now used by over 16,000 customers Europewide. The portal is unique in that it carries out a huge reverse auction daily, processing over 500,000 supplier product prices to determine the best possible purchase price on every one of the 80,000+ products in the system. This guarantees that Merlin’s prices, based on a corporate level cost plus basis, are always extremely competitive and that every price drop is passed on to Merlin directly from the manufacturer. Where Merlin has special-price manufacturer framework agreements in place, these are fixed to override pricing in the portal and checked and updated monthly to ensure best value for Merlin.
The portal acts as a complete purchasing tool for Merlin and has administrators and multiple users, all set up with different rights and access. Authorisation Workflow enables Merlin to approve equipment at different management levels, therefore retaining control of IT Hardware and costs whilst delegating responsibility where appropriate.
Bechtle.com can store multiple invoice and delivery addresses and lock down users ability to ship equipment outside of Merlin’s approved delivery locations. It also allows Merlin to standardise on certain product lines and restricts product sets to only those approved by Merlin. The Saved Baskets feature also allows regularly ordered products to be quickly loaded into the shopping basket at the ‘live’ price.
Merlin have benefited hugely from consolidation and streamlining of suppliers and according to Chris Dare, IT Director for the Merlin Entertainment Group Attractions, “Bechtle.com has completely transformed the way we purchase IT and cut at least 20% of backoffice cost from the business, which is considerable”. Some of the benefits to Merlin come in the form of streamlined internal finance procedures, reduced paper administration and duplication of work and improvements from electronic ordering resulting in faster turnaround in delivery.
The system also provides full authorisation and tracking on 35+ users ordering activity from over 12 different Merlin entities. Within the IT team there is a reduced workload as Bechtle’s pricing is very competitive and eliminates the costly exercise of chasing around multiple suppliers quotes on low value items. Chris Dare sees this as crucial to the focus of his team, “using Bechtle.com has freed up time and allows our energy and focus to be put into managing our IT infrastructure and give our users the tools they need to manage their operations successfully. It is also a key factor that Bechtle provide Merlin with a professional and knowledgeable account manager and technical team in the Bechtle office to help us work on bigger projects and suggest alternative products and solutions where appropriate.”