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The AM Award for E-commerce

##e-commerce--right## All too often IT products are solutions looking for a problem – only no-one wants to admit to buying something that doesn't add value to their business. Not at Epyx, however. Its 1Link service network, which went live in April 2003, creates electronic links between providers of service/repair and large fleet customers. Simply put, it speeds up the repair process, getting vehicles back on the road in less time.

Evidence of the need for this type of product is palpable from the industry's rapid acceptance of the product. Fourteen of the top 20 UK retail groups are using it, while 15 of the top 20 vehicle leasing companies have signed up.

In just 10 months, the 1Link system has secured more than 6,600 service and maintenance providers and has registered more than 1.5m fleet vehicles. Transactions total 90,000 a month (November 2003 figures), up 10,000 on September, while the proportion authorised electronically is close to 80% – double the figure at launch.

The essence of the 1Link system is to allow electronic booking and authorisation by fleet managers for service and repair work carried out by repairers. It replaces the need for fleets to employ huge departments of maintenance controllers who are responsible for authorising the work by phone and fax.

The problems suffered by the traditional method are three-fold: For repairers, getting hold of the maintenance controllers to gain authorisation can take more than an hour, whcih delays the repair process; for the controllers, obtaining the full details about the repair in order to give the go-ahead can also be a drawn out process.

Finally, once authorisation has been given, mismatching of invoices and authorisation creates a high rejection rate – in some cases up to 30%. The cost is enormous in terms of wasted resources, time and money. And it ultimately leads to customer dissatisfaction.

The Epyx system counters all three problems. It sets up parameters within which repairers have automatic authorisation, while jobs falling outside the agreed terms can be confirmed quicker through the online platform. Fleets can access their approved repairer networks through the Epyx website, which also enables electronic billing and invoice processing. Administration is reduced for fleets and repairers, while performance can be monitored and repairs easily tracked.

Epyx, which has a pay-on-use charging structure, believes fleets could save £88m a year by using the 1Link system; it estimates that a saving of at least £12 can be made for each of the 1.9m invoices raised a year for the UK's 3m-strong company car parc. In does not intend to stop with fleets, however. The company believes 1Link Service Network will transfer into the retail sector, reducing costs and speeding up the booking and authorisation process for warranty work, servicing and general repairs. But this move is unlikely to take place for a while yet.

The Epyx 1Link system has rapidly become an indispensable solution for fleets and repairers. Indeed, following Epyx's acquisition of its main two rivals – TransLease and Oasis – towards the end of last year it has essentially produced an uber system: a single e-commerce standard for the automotive repair industry.
“Epyx 1Link solves a problem for the customer and a problem for the repairer by enabling online job authorisation. It does what e-commerce solutions should do – make an existing process faster, easier and more consistent. Although less than a year from launch, 1L:ink has become a generic system in the sector and enjoys excellent feedback from its users.

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