eBiz: How Three Companies Are Doing It

Every business wants their products to sell and the business to grow. Why then is supporting growth often the biggest stumbling block to success? Many times the answer is that the supporting systems cannot stay abreast with added demands caused by the growth.
As orders and customers increase, service and satisfaction can fall off dramatically if order management is not integrated with the other enterprise systems. However, if the supporting systems are architected to handle the synchronization of inventories with all sales channels and order management, then growth can be accelerated.
Three diverse companies, all facing similar growth roadblocks, found a comprehensive, affordable solution from Boca Raton, FL- based MainStreet Commerce. By integrating their company’s operations into MainStreet’s BusinessFlow multi-channel order management system, these companies improved the buying experience for their customers. As a result, sales grew.
Although this case study comes from MainStreet Commerce, take the time to read/print this article and see if YOUR business is going through anything similar to the businesses below. Are you a candidate for an e-commerce solution?
If so, there’s several options from IBM, Icode and many others.
Ex Officio
Ex Officio had been running on Microsoft Commerce server for years and was faced with an inflexible Ecommerce offering and disconnected systems. The company had a new ERP system that needed to be integrated, a Website with dated content, and order management needs that required solid workflow. “To keep growing, we needed to make a change,” said Chad Luellen, E-Commerce Manager at Ex Officio.
Ex Officio is one of the nation’s most successful brands of outdoor apparel. Since 1987, the company has distinguished itself as an innovator in the field with its use of new fabric treatments coupled with new protective materials. As a part of K2 Inc. and formerly as a part of Orvis, Ex Officio has continually introduced clothing to the market that is durable, smart and fashionable. “We needed a solution that could be implemented within three months, and we needed it to allow us to get things from the drawing board into the market easily. We evaluated IBM WebSphere along with several other alternatives.” Ex Officio finally selected BusinessFlow. Ex Officio’s long term objectives are materializing within BusinessFlow,” said Mr. Luellen. “We are able to define new customer data that we want to capture, introduce new offers to customers, and track critical order data that is fundamental to shaping our bright future.”
Ex Officio likes that BusinessFlow integrates all of their sales channels and has the flexibility to capture information that is important on every order and each customer. There is communications with customers at every step of the order process. BusinessFlow makes inventory selectively available to all sales channels and allows for easily creating and activating promotions. This flexibility has created better decision making, happier customers and higher profits for Ex Officio. Regardless of how Ex Officio customers contact the company, they interface with one order entry system that reflects all of the company’s business rules and procedures, ensuring an efficient and satisfying buying experience.
Ex Officio today is an integrated enterprise. BusinessFlow provides complete order management from the time inventory becomes available for sale through the sale and customer service. “BusinessFlow maintains a two-way dialogue with our ERP system using EDI standards and our customers have visibility into their order status,” said Mr. Luellen. “Our inventory and order management is tighter than ever with BusinessFlow. We are able to keep track of what inventory is moving well and what inventory needs to be managed carefully for turn.”
Mr. Luellen added that, “Our Website is up to date. Styles and sizes that are not in stock automatically disappear until that inventory is replenished. Overall, the labor savings from automation has well exceeded our expectations. Plus, our development and IT costs have dropped because we are now easily able to make changes to our Website using a combination of BusinessFlow and DreamWeaver.”
LS Motorsports
The experience has been similar with LS MotorSports, one of the largest wholesalers, distributors and retailers of scooters, ATV’s, motorcycles and dirt bikes in the USA. LS MotorSports chose BusinessFlow for better inventory control and automated order processing across multiple sales channels. “Our company’s growth accelerated dramatically when we upgraded to BusinessFlow,” said Jonathon Solo, Chief Operating Officer “Our entire operation, from procurement through fulfillment and customer service is managed in BusinessFlow. Our operations are automated, our employees are productive, and our customers tell us how easy it is to do business with us. We are running very profitably on MainStreet.”
LS MotorSports was running on several disparate systems that were disconnected and labor intensive. As the company grew, order management became a very taxing process with each sales channel generating different file formats and each sales channel requiring different support levels. The company’s back end systems had become expensive to support. Systems were crashing frequently, and scalability was becoming an issue. Inventory management was being done with significant trouble as new item types and services were not supported by the technologies in use. They recognized that growth required a new way of managing their operations. “When we implemented BusinessFlow,” said Mr. Solo, “we looked at every one of our business processes to determine how to improve them by leveraging what BusinessFlow brings. Out-of-the-box, BusinessFlow is powerful. Way beyond that, we have used BusinessFlow’s configurability to re-engineer our company, automate what used to be painstaking, labor-intensive parts of our business, and sew together systems that used to require our development team’s energies on a regular basis to maintain communications.”
Mr. Solo knew that several key issues would need to be addressed in the solution. “Beyond features and functions, I needed software that would flex to meet my operational requirements,” said Mr. Solo. He was looking for a solution that would make for easy data accessibility to port information across systems and across his extended organization. “I needed true enterprise-ware,” said Mr. Solo. “Being able to configure the software to meet my needs, managing the workflow effectively, integrating with suppliers and shippers, being able to define what data I want to capture, when, and how to use it – these were all critical to finding the right solution for LS MotorSports. It took us awhile, we evaluated everything from Microsoft Great Plains to SAP to custom coding a solution”
“Our operation is complex,” said Mr. Solo. “Having all of our sales channels and inventory and order management synchronized in real-time by BusinessFlow fueled our growth tremendously. As a distributor, the level of service and access to valuable information that we provide our dealerships through BusinessFlow has made those relationships expand and made them profitable. They tell us how easy it is to do business with LS MotorSports.”
ACOM knew that to increase their growth rate they had to find a way to make it easy for their customers to do business with them. Ecommerce has given great power to buyers and ACOM was faced with a system that was limiting their ability to reward their loyal customers and too rigid for timely promotions.
ACOM is a 21 year old, national single-source provider of printing supplies, document and secure payment processing software and services company based in Long Beach, CA. They have a wide product line and a base of 5,000 customers. ACOM’s executive team decided that their repeat customers deserved more. They had clear ideas on how to improve the buying experience, but were challenged with their Order Management system’s ability to recognized loyal customers and its inflexibility in providing incentive pricing. Also, their customers had little access to their orders once they were placed.
At ACOM, the focus is on the customer. “We wanted to improve our customers’ experience and had ideas as to how to make it easier to do business with us,” said Mr. Church. “Our repeat customers deserved more. The challenge was to create an environment where special pricing could be offered, customers could get access to their order status, and finding the right product would be simple and intuitive. We also needed to integrate our accounting system into the order management process and introduce automation into our supply chain. We are in the software business ourselves and we took a hard look at a variety of software options including building the solution ourselves. Our discovery and due diligence process led us to MainStreet. Not only have we achieved all of our objectives, we are now well on our way to expanding the business further based on the flexibility of BusinessFlow as a platform.”
Mr. Church said, “We now have an automated order management process that includes supplier integration and fluid communications with our customers. This has translated into higher satisfaction for our loyal customer base and an increase in the number of new customers that place repeat orders.”
BusinessFlow enables ACOM to define what information is important to growing the business. “The flexibility of the solution allows us to architect what information we capture on every order and for every customer,” said Mr. Church. This has enabled us to make better decisions that have improved both customer satisfaction and our profitability.” Fluid communication with customers is a priority for ACOM. “The order management process in BusinessFlow keeps customers apprised of the status of their orders,” said Mr. Church. “In addition, the automation of customer communications in BusinessFlow has helped us to increase customer touch points and provide valuable information that helps to build strong relationships.”
ACOM’s management team had a clear vision for what they wanted to achieve in terms of merchandising products. “Given the breadth of our product line, we had a specific merchandising strategy that we wanted to follow and BusinessFlow supports it very well,” said Mr. Church. “The ecommerce environment is highly customized to reflect feedback we gained from our customers and we are easily able to introduce new products without having to endure the long cycles and gyrations that used to be a part of the process.”


About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Anonymous

    I have to say we recently purchased Mainstreet’s BusinessFlow and have been very unhappy with Mainstreet. BusinessFlow seems like a great system but still has a lot of tweaks and bugs to it. Mainstreet was of hardly any help, it took a week before our support requests were answered. The company is small and has some good ideas, but doesn’t have the muscle to back its product. There are no helpful guides to this product whatsoever, so if you buy this product be willing to purchase a lot of support.

  • Anon

    We purchased businessflow this year too and were totally dissatisfied with Mainstreet Commerce. We have spent at least 3 times more than what the software costed us in having our own people support it, then to support all the customer service issues we had. They claim they have world-class programmers, but the system is far from world-class. It has so many bugs in the system, a system free shopping cart could do better than this $15,000+ system. Their tech support is horrible, you will not receive a response for at least 2 weeks and pretty much everything goes through one person, Mike. They screen their calls and ignore your phone call, their phone system makes you say your name when you call, then it transfers you so that they know whose calling. I strongly suggest to avoid this company.

  • http://www.mainstreetcommerce.com mainstreetcommerce

    A note from MainStreet CEO Michael Sandler. At MainStreet, we are quite proud of our software package and our dedication to professional services and support.
    There are however absolutely legitimate concerns and a heavy dose of truth in the delays as professional services has been very busy. When project work has been requested, slotting has been sometimes 4 or 5 weeks out. Acknowledging is hopefully a strong indication that there is a
    sincere desire to improve. During the past few months, the company has been working hard to correct and improve this and make more resources and documentation available. This has involved implementing a support portal, providing 2 hour “hot topic” conference call sessions, and beefing up support for third party developers who can do implementations of BusinessFlow.
    To give further insight into changes at MainStreet …
    Pricing change…we eliminated the up-front license fee for hosted deployments so that companies feel comfortable trialing BusinessFlow. It is $950/month subscription with no per user and no per module fees. Users may cancel their subscription if they wish. While this is a sign of our confidence in our software, it also acknowledges that because BusinessFlow is complex, it may require trial for a company to thoroughly evaluate how they will operate on the system and determine their use of the SDK to customize BusinessFlow for their company. Although BusinessFlow is standards based, there is most definitely a learning curve for a developer using the SDK and companies need to accurately scope their deployment. When a subscription starts, professional services are not included in the $950 as some companies do not require any assistance and therefore do not need to pay for assistance. So, we have not bundled it.
    On deployments…we have been investing very heavily in the usability of the SDK to support third party developers. This is critical to our ability to scale and is consistent with the core values of the package – open and flexible. We are also working on our project management process whereby we require more definitive specifications if MainStreet engineers are to be used for a project. Because the software is flexible, in times past, we have used that flexibility to craft solutions for clients through our professionals services without having a detailed specification. While we would like to continue that creativity in our engineering, driving more clarity into solution specification will be good for the client and good for MainStreet to define success and reach it.
    These changes and genuine efforts are part of our investment and commitment to the continued success of BusinessFlow and the BusinessFlow community.
    Best Regards,
    Michael Sandler
    MainStreet Commerce
    800-595-6246 Ext 85

  • SMTK

    If someone needs any help implementing Mainstreet SDK with customized options, please let us know. We can help you.