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E-commerce solutions gain insights that boost sales

This article appears in the issue October 2015, [Volume 24 Issue 9]
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E-commerce companies are using knowledge management solutions to offer more efficient ordering, inventory management and integration with accounting and other business systems, better transparency and the ability to break down knowledge silos.

Slingshot Sports, an Oregon company that specializes in paddle boarding, kiteboarding and wave boarding products, had an e-commerce engine in place, but the solution did not enable live updating of inventory, nor did it permit the company to manage orders as they came in from retailers and consumers, says Greg Kish, Slingshot Sports’ sales and marketing director.

“Orders can vary substantially,” Kish says. “Our old system didn’t allow our retailers to see information on their sales or their orders.”

The company already had a business relationship with NetSuite, starting with the technology company’s accounting module in 2007, then added light industrial and process manufacturing modules in the next few years. So it was a natural progression to look to NetSuite again when Slingshot Sports wanted to move to a new e-commerce engine.

Slingshot Sports added NetSuite SuiteCommerce for its business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce operations in April 2013, going live with it two months later.

“We operate on a Monday through Friday schedule, but our business-to-business customers’ busy time is typically Saturday and Sunday,” Kish says. The SuiteCommerce engine enables those retailers to make purchases online and have the orders drop-shipped to them within 24 hours. “The lion’s share of our business is through specialty retail outlets. This way they can place their orders confidently and know that we have them in stock,” he adds.

Consumers have many of the same advantages in placing online orders with the new engine, according to Kish. But in addition to enabling more efficient order-to-delivery and inventory management processes, SuiteCommerce also allows Slingshot Sports to have better communication with its wholesale customers.

“They have increased access to information,” Kish explains. “We can purchase product sales information ahead of time.” That enables wholesalers to better plan their inventory needs in anticipation of sales. Additionally, Slingshot Sports can consolidate and manage all structured and unstructured product information and attributes across all channels in one location.

Because SuiteCommerce is in the NetSuite family of products, it works seamlessly with the other modules that Slingshot Sports uses, providing for more efficient business operations, Kish adds.

Cross-company insight improvement

RedBubble is another seller of specialty products that has benefitted from its move to a new e-commerce platform with enhanced KM capabilities. RedBubble is an Australia-based online marketplace for artists selling their works. Much like the U.S.-based Etsy does for sellers of crafts, RedBubble provides a marketplace for artists to sell their works, offering fulfillment, online marketing and payment processing. But the different parts of the company had no access to the data or insight that other departments might be able to offer.

“The data flow between the departments was non-existent,” says Manoj Yadav, the company’s director of business analytics. “When we reached a point where we were spending more time manipulating the data than using it to make decisions, we knew that we needed a new solution.”

In November 2012, RedBubble looked at three software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, ran trials on two of them and then selected GoodData for its extract, transform, load (ETL) capabilities and ease of use, moving to the platform in 2013.

Once he had worked with GoodData on RedBubble’s requirements, Yadav was able to handle the actual implementation himself, rolling it out across much of the organization in only a few weeks. RedBubble started using GoodData initially in operations, then added it to sales and marketing.

The company quickly saw the time needed for the monthly accounting work drop from three days to only a couple of hours, and gained more knowledge about the margins of different products. In all, RedBubble was able to combine six disparate resources of data to provide one single, comprehensive view of company information.

GoodData provided better insight into how different company decisions affected different parts of the business, according to Yadav. “We were able to bring back sales data to customer service and marketing data to sales. Different departments were able to see the impact of actions taken by other departments,” he says.

As a result, sales and marketing now produce reports in collaboration with the chief operating officer that enable the company to evaluate sales by product, country and other categories; operations and customer service overlay customer service data with net promoter scores in order to categorize complaints to locate and resolves issues; and legal and finance can now automate tracking of any suspected copyright violations and produce a variety of financial reports.

With the successes so far, Yadav expects the company to find increasing ways to use the knowledge provided through GoodData to further enhance the company’s efficiency and performance.

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