By Ruth Richter • January 17, 2017

Blog|Small Sales Team with a Giant Presence

VP of Sales Meets Goals by Embracing

E-commerce Integration

E-commerce has leveled the playing field for small businesses. Companies don’t need to be industry giants 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 online presence, the right back-office software, and e-commerce integration, businesses can succeed in capturing their share of the e-commerce explosion.

Expand Revenue with E-Commerce

E-commerce is 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. And e-commerce sales are expanding beyond traditional retail products to specialized business-to-business offerings.  To expand their customer bases and revenue, businesses can design an online site that reaches a specific audience. With an easy-to-shop website, businesses can expand worldwide and reach new customers quickly.

One small company that has seized the opportunity is 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 a regional supplier of plumbing and electrical supplies to selling around the world.

Provide Instant Credibility for the Sales Force

E-commerce and online systems can boost a company’s sales force activities. Using web applications integrated with back-office systems, Palmetto Part’s sales have flourished. Bill Meany, VP of Sales, explained, “Because our systems are integrated, [the ecommerce platform] is a natural extension of what we do. It looks and feels the way the rest of the Sage 100 system works.”

The integrated e-commerce system is a great tool for Palmetto Part’s sales force. The outside sales team use 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. “When our sales reps walk into customer facilities, they have instant credibility,” he said. “Our website is impressive and it gives the customer confidence in us. If they want something, they can just log in and find it.”

Improve Customer Service

When the back-office software is tightly integrated with the e-commerce system, it gives existing customers self-service access to product orders and account data. With access comes the ability to update existing information about accounts, check order statuses, and view order history, 24/7. They do not have to wait to call customer service during business hours to check on this information. If customers frequently call the office to ask for information, enabling this access can be a great time-saver for the internal team. More importantly, it’s expedient and convenient for customers. 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.”

The Sky Is the Limit

Under the name FD Supply, they created and launched a business to consumer website where anyone, anywhere in the world, can order 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 have 15 employees.”

As a result of the new market place, FD Supply has grown internationally to locations all around the world. Through their internet presence, the company sold 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.

Support Growth with Integrated Systems

Managing an internet-based sales effort can be challenging on a good day, but with the right tools running behind the scenes, e-commerce 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. The challenge of keeping up with data entry, managing inventory, and communications with the customers is not where you want to put your time and investment, advised Meany.

“We are certainly grateful that we chose the right integrated e-commerce technology and team to provide us our seamless back-office and e-commerce 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, the system works smoothly regardless of volume,” Meany concluded.

*This article first appeared in the Bellwether Magazine. Get more details by downloading the complete success story.

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