by Ruth Richter
eCommerce has leveled the playing field for small businesses. The internet is still a ready source of new customers and increased revenue. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, internet sales grew by 14.6% in 2015 and accounted for a third of total retail sales. eCommerce sales are expanding beyond traditional retail products to specialized business-to-business offerings. And eCommerce integration helps to make it possible.
Expand Revenue with eCommerce
Today, a company doesn’t need to be an “industry giant” to sell their products around the world. If a business wants to grow, it can, and it doesn’t need to increase its sales force to do it. With an optimized online presence, the right back-office software, and proper eCommerce integration between systems, businesses can succeed in capturing their share of the e-commerce explosion.
One small company that has seized the opportunity is Blytheco and ROI Consulting’s shared client, Palmetto Parts Company. Their online shopping site integrated with Sage 100 has allowed the company’s sales and market reach to grow exponentially. They went from supplying plumbing and electrical equipment regionally to selling around the world.
eCommerce Integration Provides Instant Credibility for the Sales Team
eCommerce and online systems can boost a company’s sales force activities. By using web applications integrated with back-office systems, Palmetto Parts sales have flourished. Bill Meany, VP of Sales, explains, “Because our systems are integrated, the eCommerce platform is a natural extension of what we do. It has the same look and feels as our Sage 100 ERP system.”
An integrated eCommerce system has been a great tool for Palmetto Parts’ sales force. The outside sales team uses their iPads to reference the online catalog. With an internet connection, they can show prospects and customers the online catalog, check availability, and place orders on the spot. “When our sales reps walk into customer facilities, they have instant credibility,” Meany says. “Our website is impressive and it gives the customer confidence in us. If they want something, they can just log in and find it.”
eCommerce Integration Powers First-Class Customer Experience
When the back-office software is tightly integrated with the eCommerce system, it gives existing customers self-service access to their product order history and the ability to manage their account data. The customer convenience is priceless because they’re not limited to “normal business hours”. According to Meany, “Our website delivers what our customers need when they need it. Customers can search for products and view their account history, invoice, and quotes.” This functionality saves the Palmetto Parts internal team a lot of time and frees them up to focus on other tasks.
eCommerce Provides Unique Opportunities
To expand their sales, Palmetto Parts created and launched a business to consumer website under the name FD Supply where anyone, anywhere in the world, can or-der parts. This new business is growing at about 60% every six months. As Meany describes it, “We can do everything within our system and we’ve become really good at it. It gives us the functionality of a billion-dollar corporation even though we only have 15 employees.”
As a result of the new marketplace, FD Supply has grown internationally to locations all around the world. Their internet presence has earned them unique opportunities such as selling drainage parts for a new cruise port in Belize. “There’s no way on earth we could ever have thought of doing that! It’s been great for us,” Meany exclaimed.
Unlimited Growth Potential
Managing an internet-based sales effort can be challenging on a good day, but with the right tools running behind the scenes, eCommerce becomes a whole lot easier. Supporting greater demand and meeting expectations of online customers requires well-functioning, integrated systems.
Trying to grow an online sales effort with separate systems takes much more effort than one would think. Meany advises that keeping up with data entry, managing inventory, and communications with the customers is not where you want to invest your time.
“We are certainly grateful that we chose the right integrated e-commerce technology and team to provide us our seamless back-office and eCommerce integration solution. It sure has allowed me the ability, as the VP of Sales, to focus on growth versus management,” stated Meany. “Our sales team works efficiently, our parts are easily found by anyone who has access to the internet, and we provide an outstanding customer experience because of the accuracy of customer data across systems and elimination of all the points where mistakes can occur. Growth is no problem, and our system works smoothly, regardless of volume,” Meany concluded.
About the Author
Ruth Richter is the Customer Experience Director for ROI Consulting, Inc, the market’s leading Sage 100 integration specialist. ROI Consulting has been maximizing Sage 100 customer’s technology investment through integration and customization since 1997. Learn more at www.blytheco.com/sage100/insynch.asp.
Article reprinted from the Winter 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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