Anticipated challenges, such as acceptance by employees/customers, simply didn’t materialize. The reps didn’t ask, or need additional training, and found the system easy to understand and to use. Because the e-commerce site is constantly available, reps on the road can access information from their laptop, or a hotel room; give better service to their customers with up-to-date information on prices, and special offers; and it provides better communication between Head Office and employees.
Customers have accepted it too – bearing out the initial research done by Brad – showing increasing acceptance of online ordering and shopping.
Technically, it was a smooth transition. D’Addario did have to purchase a server (cost about $2,000), but as it ensures the security of data, (as opposed to being on an external, shared server, off-site) the company is satisfied with that purchase.
Web.Venture does provide templates, although Brad found that a basic knowledge of html is useful to enable changing of source code – for instance, to change type colour from black to red. He adds that, because Web.Venture is consistently upgraded, and is fast to respond to customer requests for certain features, increasingly more customization is possible.
Some of the specific benefits that D’Addario has found with Blue Link include:
- Increased sales: To date 10% of total sales come through Web.Venture, and it is seen as having the potential to create extra sales, outside of the ones directly generated by the reps or company staff.
- Better tracking: Orders can be tracked in real-time, and customer information is immediately accessible.
- Improved customer service: Customers can browse online, access previous orders, see any special offers, and input orders at their convenience. The company can improve customer service while enhancing orders – because the order has a manual interface just before going into final order, it allows D’Addario to add on special pricing, or suggest free shipping. For example, the office can see that an order might qualify for free shipping if one more product was added, or an extra unit added, and can contact the customer with that suggestion.
- Order tracking: more efficient ordering.
As Web.Venture is part of Blue Link Elite, integration issues were not relevant, which considerably eased the transition to e-commerce.
Due to Web.Venture’s flexibility, customers who choose to use older communication methods, such as fax or telephone, can continue to do so, while the 24/7 accessibility of the new e-commerce site has attracted new customers, and additional orders, and extends the potential customer base.
The customizing features allow D’Addario to present its unique online ‘storefront’, maintaining its image.
The implementation has been extremely successful in achieving D’Addario’s objectives of adding e-commerce functionality, providing accurate and timely information to management and staff, and ensuring secure, timely updates, and increased sales opportunities.