Fusionsoft builds a strong ‘case’ for new Antler website

From: Fusionsoft
Published: Wed May 12 2010

Antler is a leading manufacturer and distributor of luxury travel and holiday luggage. The company has been selling luggage since 1920, when it developed leather-covered wardrobe trunks for passengers on ocean liners. Within the UK, the company now distributes its products through High Street retail outlets and own brand labels.

The business issues

Since 2007, Antler has also been involved in direct online sales to consumers through its own website. However, this soon proved to be inadequate, with several key issues emerging:

Lack of integration – The site wasn’t integrated with any of the company’s back office systems. This meant that any changes to product prices or descriptions was a very time-consuming process – as was the development and promotion of special offers. Antler wanted an ecommerce site that would be fully integrated with the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. This would ensure that most of the tasks that had previously been handled manually (such as prices, product descriptions and offers) could be automated.

Lack of control – Although the original site had its own content management system, many of the areas could still only be updated by the website developer. Antler wanted to assume total ownership of content updating. The company therefore needed a website that would enable the content to be managed entirely in-house, with less reliance on the website developers.

Lack of flexibility - Antler wanted the same website to be used by its business-to-business (B2B) trade customers as well as individual consumers. It also wanted to move away from manual fax or telephone orders and migrate to a self-service web ordering solution.

Gary Capell, Antler’s Development Director, says: "One of our highest priorities was to procure a solution that would be much more search engine friendly. We also wanted to be able to use our in-house graphic design team to design the look, feel and brand of the website. We decided that the success of the new website would be measured by whether or not it managed to triple the turnover of the previous site."

The options

Fusionsoft was invited to pitch for the development of the new website. This came as a result of a recommendation from Antler’s IT Manager, who had previously seen a highly successful project been carried out by the company. Fusionsoft offered Antler a number of options:

Content management and integration – The first alternative was for Antler to keep its existing content management system and integrate the site with Fusionsoft’s ecommerce engine, which in turn would be integrated with Antler’s ERP system. The second option was to use Fusionsoft’s content management system and ecommerce engine and integrate these with Antler’s ERP system.

Hosting – Antler was given the choice of hosting the solution in-house or using Fusionsoft’s hosting partner.

Delivery – The entire solution (both the consumer and trade elements of the website) could be delivered at once, or it could be delivered in a phased approach - with the consumer section first, followed by the trade section.

The benefits

After detailed discussions between teams from the two companies, Antler asked Fusionsoft to deliver the entire solution. The eCommerce website would be hosted by Fusionsoft, eliminating the need for Antler to invest in additional infrastructure and licenses. The hosting solution is fully managed on a 24x7x365 basis, which also removed the need for Antler to allocate internal resource to support or maintain the website.

It was agreed that the solution would be deployed in a phased approach. The consumer element of the website subsequently went live first, followed by the trade component three months later.

Fusionsoft’s approach offered the following benefits in response to Antler’s main business issues:

Integration – Fusionsoft’s ecommerce product Weblinc has had excellent references from clients. This includes examples where the ecommerce engine has been successfully integrated with AS400-based ERP systems, especially System 21 – which is used by Antler.

As Fusionsoft’s solution was designed specifically for integration with back office applications, it was able to provide a high level of integration with Antler’s processes. As a result, all of the tasks that were previously carried out manually are now automatically updated by Antler’s ERP system.

Control – Fusionsoft’s content management system is one of the most search engine friendly systems available. It delivers extremely good visibility across Google, Yahoo and Bing, providing Antler with a great opportunity for its keywords to be found on the first page of search engines.

The content management system is also extremely easy to use. This has given Antler’s team total control over all of the content input, editing and updating. The system has allowed Antler’s graphics department to design the website brand and to choose the whole look and feel of the site. It also allows the department to deploy offers and promotions straight off the home page, without needing to involve Fusionsoft.

Flexibility - Fusionsoft’s ecommerce product has provided discrete solutions for both the consumer and trade sections of the website. Each trade customer can log in and start a new order; update a previous order; view expected deliveries; view their account balance; and manage all of their orders online. This significantly reduces the overhead for managing trade orders.

The consumer and trade sections of the website (www.antler.co.uk) were both successfully implemented. Antler now manages all of its own content and graphical updates. The company’s ERP system automatically updates the website with pricing, availability, product descriptions, product sizes and specifications.

A good example of the benefits of this automation can be seen from the government’s move to reduce VAT followed later by an increase back to the original rate. Antler only needed to update the VAT rate once on its ERP system. As the website displays the prices from the ERP system in real time, the prices that appeared on the site were automatically adjusted.

The verdict

Gary Capell comments: "Within the first 12 months of the consumer section going live, we exceeded our target of tripling sales income through the website. Most of our keywords achieve a first page ranking on the major search engines, which helped enormously towards the attainment of our sales target.

"The trade site has also been a great success – partly because it is very easy to use. It’s a very simple process to turn orders into delivered products. This has taken the pain out of transactions and has encouraged our trade customers to use the site for ordering rather than using fax and telephone orders. The trade site is now also able to promote new products and slow-moving stock as well as displaying volume- related sales incentives."

He concludes: "We have been delighted with the quality of Fusionsoft’s service and the professionalism of their team. The new website will play a major role in our future sales – and its ease of use and functionality will further enhance our high levels of customer service."
Company: Fusionsoft
Contact Name: fusionsoft.co.uk
Contact Email: adam@fusionsoft.co.uk
Contact Phone: 01895 255 633

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