Blackburn Marine Distributing, a trusted name in the wholesale marine industry, was looking to expand their online presence and increase the capability of their website. President Bill Blackburn and Ecommerce Manager Larry Rosage share how they used Miva to transform their site and create a modern wholesale buying experience that meets the needs of their customers. To learn more, watch the video to the right or read the transcript below.
Larry Rosage: "We had an online presence but it was very limited in scope. Our website was somewhat static and disconnected. It was not connected to our backend ERP system. It had very limited options in terms of what customers could do with the website in order to do business with us."
LR: "For example...customers could inquire about parts, price and availability, but it was truncated at that point. We basically got an email that we would then, in turn, have to key into our backend order entry system. Likewise, another example: customers were unable to pay with credit cards. It was a very finite transaction that simply let us know what they wanted...[but] we had to take it from there."
LR: "Our venture into this particular project allowed us to increase the scope and capability of our website."
Bill Blackburn: "Now, whenever somebody launches their login and goes to our website, not only can they check availability and pricing in real-time...but all of that information is now passed directly into our backend system, into our computers in our offices–which is much more efficient, much quicker, much more "real-time". And we can spend some of our other time and efforts elsewhere, rather than just taking orders on the phone, or picking them up off the fax like we used to do years ago. So, [the new website] has made things much more efficient, quicker...it just flows better."
LR: "Now, rather than taking the time to enter the order which is happening automatically, our customer service reps are able to take the time to stay on the phone with customers...solving problems and leading to increased sales which is really the fundamental thrust of what's going on.
One of the primary metrics we used was the number of orders per day. So, with the use of our previous website, we were getting web-based orders at the rate of perhaps, 5 a month. We're now easily getting 5 to 10 per day with the new website. So I think that's indicative of the ease of use that our customers are experiencing...with the new website and the way it designs, and its functions, and additional features that are brought to the forefront here.
Overall, our business is experiencing about a 45% increase year-over-year. Now we know that some of that is due to what's happening in the industry in general, so it's good for us. But we can feel confident that a good percentage of that growth is due to the ability of our customers to utilize and do business with us in a much more efficient way, due to the website."
BB: "Another area of timesaving has been in our shipping process, especially with regards to parcels that we ship out via UPS. When we launched this website, it forced us to make some internal changes in how we tell our warehouse to actually ship this product.
Now it has forced us to put the shipping where it belongs–which is in the warehouse–and actually send the paperwork out to the warehouse...and it doesn't have to be seen by the internal office people any longer. That's been a huge timesaver, efficiency saver, however you want to word it."
BB: "There's a lot that happens between these systems that talk to one another...to have a modern website, there's a lot that has to happen behind the scenes. The other thing that I learned was that...although this was a significant investment, it wasn't as much as I anticipated it to be once it was finished in its initial form. And that's what I think I would pass on to others...it's been a very worthwhile project, both immediately and in the long-term–especially for the money that it involved."