Creating Opportunity through Innovation

How we used the past 12 months to improve our service through technology

Like most Irish businesses the past 12 months has created several challenges for Lites Group. The crisis has also created opportunity and forced us to innovate.

Changes in our business have been forced in several ways and the crisis has provided us with more time to think about what is important in our business. In the early days of the crisis the initial shock evolved into a new routine of finding new ways to keep our team busy. For the first time, probably since our early days, we had the time and space to consider the bigger picture and our overall value proposition.

The COVID crisis has proven to everyone that our worlds can be thrown upside down overnight. The biggest change which has occurred in our business is a mindset change. We now understand that we cannot take anything for granted. Now more than ever our business has to mirror our client’s business model, understand potential risks and has to be agile enough to adapt to changing client requirements. We have experienced massive growth in Grocery and our FMCG customers have had unprecedented demands placed on them. We have also seen customers in the on-trade having to do the unthinkable and shut their doors indefinitely.

We made the decision early in the crisis that our only route through was Innovation. We have also been very lucky in some respects as our FMCG merchandising services were still extremely busy and this has allowed us to road test some of our new systems and processes in-field.

Lites Group has always had a focus on technology. We have an in-house software development team who built our proprietary software LitesDirect.  LitesDirect is an application which allows us to manage all our activity centrally. Client reporting right through to field staff payments are managed through our system. Our system was initially developed 10 years ago however we have focused a huge amount of energy into development over the past 12 months.

Several areas where identified as opportunities for improvement

  • Creating an improved platform for capturing feedback from the field in- real time.

As our clients were restricted from store visits our team increasingly have become the eyes and ears of trade marketing and brand teams. All our client activity is GPS tracked and feedback is captured real-time from stores. Over the past 12 month we have introduced an improved UX for staff to make the data-capture process more user friendly. We have introduced an intelligent question builder which allows us to report only the most relevant detail to our clients. We have also enhanced the photo capturing process from the field. Our client reporting portal has become the go to location for many clients gathering information on trade developments.


  • Improving the ability to communicate through our Field staff app.

LitesDirect is the first port of call for our field staff for all of their Lites communications. When our offices closed in March 2020, we had to quickly devise new ways of reaching out to our teams. We built and implemented a messaging function which allows us to push messages out to staff directly through the LitesDirect app. We can communicate schedule and brief changes very quickly. We can track if staff have read and understood changes to their working day. During the past 12 months we have had to deal with many unforeseen changes and this tool which allows us to communicate changes quickly has been invaluable.



  • Improving our on-line training capability.

The past year has seen universal adoption of online meeting software. We have embraced this technology and rolled-out online access to all our staff briefs. Staff can access all their briefing documents through LitesDirect. We have also created video briefs and created a virtual Lites induction. All these measures have improved access to training and allowed us to save time for our clients, our back-office team and our field staff.


  • Improving contact flexibility and adapting to life without an office.

 Our in-house team have all completely migrated to Teams. Our PBX is now virtual and all members of the team can be connected remotely to reception through Microsoft Calls. This has given us a whole new level of flexibility. Clients and staff can seamlessly contact our main reception and speak to any member of the team. Our team have had to deal with working and schooling from home whilst some will be rushing to get back to normal, our new ways of working will provide the flexibility for improved work-life balance.


The additional time afforded to some clients has provided us with the time to work with them to develop tailored technology solutions which has allowed them to drive efficiencies and improve work-flows in their businesses. Some of these projects have included;


  • Sales teams gamification- we developed a simple tracker on LitesDirect which rewards POS placement compliance.


  • Improved territory management and journey planning- we have gone through a process of mapping and geolocating customer outlets. This process was all carried out through LitesDirect.


  • Bespoke on-line training material- we developed and rolled out a portal to train customers on New Products and POS. Like our field staff training it tracks training compliance and greatly enhanced our clients’ lines of communication.


In summary the past twelve months have focused all our attention on improving processes within our business. Our underlying commitment to technology has paid dividends this year. We have always had the mantra – ‘how do we make our services better, faster and more cost efficient’ we have now added ‘how do we make our business more agile’.