Builders Discovering Benefits Of Web
Internet-savvy builders are using the web to gain vast improvements in time management, accounts accuracy and business efficiency, according to Carters Building Supplies Manager - Building Applications, Mike Lambert.
"We have been the first to go on-line with a fully e-commerce enabled website for our customers," he says. "And while our customer-base is not generally the most IT proficient, they can see the benefits."
About 10% of the customer base has 'seen the light' and uses the website constantly. Kiosks in every store enable Carters staff to demonstrate the site whenever customers (typically builders and developers) express interest. Large customers have been introduced to the website individually, and there has been real interest.
The Carters website enables its customers to track stock, order supplies, get immediate quotes and check their accounts in real time, 24 hours a day. "For our large customers, it means immediate access to their account information and its accuracy and timeliness is the benefit. For smaller building companies, the Carters site enables them to build all day, and do their supplies ordering, accounts and quotes at night," he says.
Unlike most e-commerce sites, the Carters site uses the same database as the company's back-office system. "Initially we tried to use separate e-commerce modules, but with complex business rules, it was very difficult to transfer data efficiently between the two systems."
Fortunately Quanta Systems. (a member of the Infinity Group) who supplied the Carter's Distribution System were developing an e-commerce module. The module would integrate seamlessly with the back office and Carters began a development partnership with Quanta.
Quanta and Carters worked together, in a win-win situation. For Carters, it meant being the first in its market to provide real-time e-commerce facilities for its customers - something Lambert regards as a huge advantage.
With Carters help, Quanta has developed a module it can now sell to other service-oriented customers, who can use Carters as a reference site.
The system was designed to be fast and easy to use, and has been working perfectly for almost a year. "Attaching an e-commerce module to the main package has created a seamless operation from front office to back with no data transfer required," says Pav Kandiah - Senior Sales Consultant for Quanta Systems.
With more than 700 users on the system, and around 1100 customers accessing the website, the design was deliberately robust. Yet it took just six months to have the full system operating, something Pav attributes to the quality of the relationship between the two parties.
"With trust, good listening skills and constant communication and revision, we were able to provide Carters with a competitive advantage, on time and certainly within budget," she says. "E-commerce is becoming the norm, and our experience with Carters means we can build an excellent system and customise it exclusively, for both large and small operations."
For more information please contact:
Pav Kandiah - Quanta Systems Tel: 09 302 3769
Mike Lambert - Carters Tel: 09 272 7200
Janelle Vergis Red Letters Ltd 8 Hamish Place Pakuranga Auckland Ph: 576 5663