Heartland ERP provider ups ante on back of customer goodwill

Published on the 21/02/2018 | Written by Jonathan Cotton


It’s strange to hear a technology company talk about customer service as enthusiastically as they talk about product innovation…

But it’s something of a fixation for Aussie-bred ERP solution provider Foresiight which says that, for all the ways the company might connect with its customers, nothing quite matches boots on the ground for taking the product to the people.

“A lot of software companies that provide business management software really don’t make the effort to get out of their urban environments,” says Manny Gill, former Virgin Blue Airlines founding CFO and now managing director of the Brisbane-based Foresiight. “As such, it has always been a bit of an underserved market.”

The company established roots in Australia’s rural business community in the early 90s – back before teleconferencing, Skype and remote desktop connections were a thing – with staff taking frequent road trips visiting country towns.

“We’ve certainly been welcomed by rural business owners,” says Gill. “People are genuinely thankful that you’ve made the effort to actually go to them to find out what they need.”

“While it’s easier today with more communication options and remote connectivity, nothing beats being there in the flesh for building goodwill and loyalty. Because we show them the love and provide a real person onsite or on the end of the phone, the loyalty factor back to us is strong.”

The company’s more-than-35-year history has been one of bonding with small-but-growing businesses around Brisbane and Melbourne, and throughout the regional centres.

The company specialises in working with companies in growth phase – expanding to a second location for example. That’s the moment, says Steve Williamson, Foresiight’s development manager, that a business’s needs too often outstrip the capabilities of their software.

“Generally around about that time of growth, many of the regular POS and accounting systems can’t handle the new requirements of the business, often in terms of multi-location stock and the ordering facilities that they need to calculate the right amount of stock to keep on hand and all those sorts of features,” he says. “So that’s where we sit, right in that market of growing SMBs”.

The company’s flagship product, ProfiitPlus – a business management suite with integrated POS, stock control, accounting and CRM, popular in industries such as power tools retail, automotive, hardware, landscape supply, wholesalers and importers – is what most Foresiight customers are running. On top of that core product, industry-specific modules are added providing over 300 customisation options.

The company also produces Alchemii, an ERP solution and variation on ProfiitPlus tailored specifically to the pharmacy industry.

But while a great product/market fit has provided Foresiight with an enthusiastic and loyal niche, the company has its sights set firmly on bigger fish. They recently closed a deal with specialist retail chain United Tools – beating out bigger players such as Pronto Software and Netsuite in the process – to provide their enterprise-grade business management application, Liinc.

A head office management solution five years in the making, Liinc lets users consolidate information from ProfiitPlus-equipped stores, and provides top-level control and visibility of stock and sales activity from within a cloud-hosted app.

“The individual stores all run their own software, but each store continually pushes and pulls data to and from the cloud,” says Williamson.

“Head office gets all the information they need to do their collated buying and maximise their discounts from manufacturers and they can visualise what stores are doing, looking at statistics, segmenting by region, day-on-day and year-on-year, and analysing all of that information to make better buying decisions as a group.”

The platform provides a big opportunity for a company looking to go after larger retail networks.

“Currently we’re talking to two pretty big groups – one with 75 stores and the other with around 95,” says Gill. “We’re certainly having conversations that we wouldn’t have been having 24 months ago and we’re really looking at this as a great opportunity to diversify our client base.”

“We love our SMB clients – we’ve got great relationships there – but in terms of growth, we want to get some of those bigger groups as well. We’ve made a significant investment in developing Liinc so obviously we want to capitalise on that, but it’s also an opportunity to extend the ProfiitPlus core to more people.”

Big plans or not, it always comes back to feet on the ground.

I think one of the biggest points of difference on winning that tender was our level of support and training and the fact that we go into all of these stores to do implementation,” says Gill.

“The way we look at it is that we’re a service-oriented company that just happens to sell business management software. That really is our key differentiator. And that’s what our clients love. We’re always here at any time to help them manage their business, and a lot of the big software vendors just don’t prioritise that. They promise the earth, make the deal, and then they just disappear. That’s not the way we do business.”

Foresiight is headquartered in Hendra, Queensland and services clients across Australia.


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