Entering the 20th year of epyx
2020 is a significant year for epyx. The company will celebrate its 20th birthday later this year. Over the coming months, we’ll be marking the milestone in a number of ways but thought that an interesting way to start proceedings would be to look back at the landscape in which the company was formed two decades ago.
Perhaps the best way to sum up the degree of change that we have seen is with a single fact – in 2000, Google wasn’t yet the most popular search engine in the world but instead it was the little-remembered Lycos. This was a world in which many of the most popular online presences that we take for granted today were still in their infancy – from Autotrader to Amazon. Facebook didn’t even exist; there was no social media in the modern sense.
Early in epyx’s history, the 1link Service Network platform established itself as the company’s core product. From this distance, it is difficult to appreciate the revolution that it heralded but in 2000, if you were a company van driver and operator, the conventional process of accessing basic servicing and maintenance for your car was incredibly onerous.
Fundamentally, all contact between garages and operators was undertaken by phone, fax and even post, with all work authorised on a spoken or written basis. Every time a job changed even slightly – perhaps to account for a further fault that had been identified while undertaking a repair – everything would often have to start again from scratch.
Invoices from service providers were issued by post. Teams of people would have to manually load each one into a sales ledger and, at the end of month, the payment team would raise a cheque and post this out. It was time-consuming and massively error-prone. The upshot was that the typical invoice rejection rate was significant. Entire departments of people existed within vehicle leasing companies simply to resolve disputes.
Replacing this, 1link Service Network created a process with a single online invoice, often authorised automatically and visible to all. Electronic invoices are automatically imported through an overnight file transfer directly into the payment system and paid directly into a garage’s bank account. It represented a whole new world.
Today, the advantages are clear but, at a time where Amazon was an unknown quantity to most people, much less so. In fact, when the platform was introduced in some garages, epyx also had to install an internet connection because the customer didn’t even have e-mail.
However, within a few years, 1link Service Network was in use by nearly all major vehicle leasing companies and, of course, the same general principles had been successfully applied by the company to a whole range of processes from vehicle acquisition to remarketing, all under the 1link brand.
We’ll be talking more about the history of epyx and e-commerce in the motor industry in further posts over the next few months but, if you’ve any memories of those early days of 1link, we’d love to see your contributions below.
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