Case Study: Online Lubricants Limited

Online Lubricants Limited is the leading distributor of fuel and heating oils and lubricants in the South East of England. It has grown significantly over the past twenty years since it was set up by its founder and CEO John Collings. It has been voted TOTAL Distributor of the year in 2015 by TOTAL UK Limited and it has also won  similar awards from other major fuel company’s such as Petro Canada. Through its network of third party agents it is able to supply and deliver its products anywhere in the UK in 24 hours. It operates through 3 warehouses in Essex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk using its fleet of 20 vehicles.


Online Lubricants (OL for short) specialises in emergency deliveries to its customers either on a same day basis or no later than within the next 24 hours. It is completely committed to providing its customers with exceptional customer service. To enable it to do that, it needs real time data on stock availability and pricing.

In 2011 OL’s expansion required it to expand its base of operations by opening a new warehouse. That required an update to its systems so it could account for stock at all of its warehouses and to allow it to process sales orders from its telephone sales centre call in Essex. The Company used the Sage 50 Accounting system and had done so since its foundation.  However it needed additional functionality that the Sage 50 package lacked.

OL Challenges

Commenting  on the decision CEO John Collings recalled ‘We were faced with a large number of options, we were very happy with SAGE 50 as our core accounting system and I saw no need to replace it. However our expansion into two warehouses required additional functionality that SAGE 50 could not accommodate.

Looking at the options, some of the ERP solutions we were offered were excessively complex and went beyond our requirements and although we accepted certain of our systems needed to be retired, a complete replacement would have required an enormous change management programme that would have been too disruptive. Our solution was to build our own web-based sales order processing system which integrated with SAGE 50 using the SDO (Sage Data Objects) provided by SAGE through its Software Development  Kit (SDK).

This API synchronised our SAGE 50 Customer and Product data  with our web-based sales order processing system. This was a great success and provided us with a complete audit trial of all sales orders placed either by telephone to our separate office or by tablet entered into the system remotely by our Sales Team.

The initial prototype was developed in 2011 and after its  successful initial operation, we decided to add further modules with the aim of building a complete end to end business system which complements our existing SAGE 50 Accounts system – from taking an initial  call  from a Prospect and creating a draft quotation right through to providing business intelligence data to senior managers.  We were able to update our SAGE 50 system on an annual basis with no change to the API we had developed.

How @spire Helped

We now have Prospects, Quotations, Notes, Comprehensive Search facilities, Orders, Reminders and Analytics. This has been a tremendous effort by all concerned and our business has benefited immeasurably.

Bob James

Head of Sales Bob James also commented on the success of the @spire implementation.

‘Before the @spire system was implemented it was difficult to get an overall feel for our future sales performance. Now we are able to produce profitability reports by customer and by product, to create Sales funnels for our Prospects and Customers and to produce consolidated forecasts all within one system. It has provided huge leverage to our historical  SAGE data and has given us a platform to manage our operations  for the future.’




@spire Now Available to All Users of SAGE 50 2012 and Upwards

Following  the success of the OL project , the decision was taken by the Online  Group to develop a generic version of the @spire product and to sell it to other SME’s that used the SAGE 50 Accounts system. It is compatible with all currently supported versions of SAGE 50 Accounts – from 2012 to 2015.  Compatibility with the SAGE 50 2016 is currently under development.


@spire is now available to all users of SAGE 50 2012 and upwards. To initiate your free 14 day trial, please complete the contact form on the website and someone will contact you.

As a first step, click on the link to the Demo site- which uses the standard SAGE Demonstration data – to see just some of the many features @spire can provide.