eCommerce website for horticulture wholesale grower integrated with Sage ERP
B2B eCommerce website enabling Skagit Horticulture to sell wholesale to a variety of customer types including large garden centers, nurseries and other businesses. eCommerce website is integrated with Sage ERP to automate sales orders and inventory, eliminating overselling of products and the need for full-time staff to manually coordinate and enter sales orders.
Skagit Horticulture is a wholesale grower operating greenhouses, container yards, and open field production centers in both Washington and California. These unique climates offer optimum environments to propagate and grow plants where they perform best. Whether you need annuals, perennials, grasses, ground covers, or roses, Skagit Horticulture has you covered from start to finish.
Complex ordering requirements and sensitive shelf lives
With a unique industry like horticulture comes unique challenges - especially when selling and shipping time-sensitive, live plant products.
Skagit Horticulture sells to a wide range of customers with different buying behaviors. Some make a relatively smaller purchase once per year, while others make many larger, planned purchases all year long. And when it comes to live products like plants, planning and forecasting inventory is particularly tricky.
"There's a challenge we run into with anything software-related in our industry, which is that we have to account for the expiration of our products. There's a relatively fast rollover period on our shelf-life. It's not sitting in a warehouse waiting to be offloaded or shipped at some point," says Katie Miller, Retail Ready Program Manager at Skagit.
All these challenges made sales order management difficult, and led to overselling products that were out-of-stock or already promised. To manage sales orders, Skagit had a full-time team of people whose primary job was to coordinate, correct and enter orders properly.
From a technology perspective, the company had recently integrated Sage as their ERP to help manage their business complexity. They were now looking for a solution to their selling problem - a website that was fully-integrated to allow customers to confidently and accurately place orders online, without help from a sales rep.
Industry expertise and integration skills prove to be the right match
After evaluating a handful of eCommerce vendors, the decision to go with Dynamicweb came down to the integration skillset and capabilities needed to translate their complex selling requirements on a front-end, customer-facing website. Dynamicweb already had experience with complex eCommerce implementations in the horticulture industry, which reduced the implementation timeline and cost.
"We really felt like their knowledge and understanding of the industry and the business was there. Having somebody that was familiar with the industry was a huge help," says Katie.
Dynamicweb already had a ready-to-go demo environment tailored to horticulture needs, and was able to showcase a strong proof of concept early in the project.
Ultimately what Skagit needed was the ability for horticulture customers to be able to edit orders right up until the date they are planted in the ground. And since their customers included large garden centers and other businesses, they needed to support multi-step confirmations throughout the buying process. And because of the sensitive expiration dates of their products, inventory and sales orders had to be tightly managed against those parameters.
Dynamicweb provided both the B2B eCommerce platform and the industry experience that Skagit needed to achieve their vision, and completed the implementation in a fraction of the time that would have been required from other platforms.
Tightly-integrated eCommerce empowers both customers and employees
Skagit now has a fully-integrated eCommerce website where customers can login, submit their order, and it's in Sage immediately. Skagit sales staff are now using their time to improve other areas and tools for internal analysis, including improving sales training and processes for staff instead of just inputting orders.
Because sales orders are now automated through the Skagit website, their full-time staffing needs for manually entering sales orders was reduced by 60%. Plus, they no longer have to onboard and train additional sales staff during busy seasons.
Customer satisfaction has gone up thanks to the new streamlined and integrated ordering experience. Customers can now plan and place orders with confidence knowing that inventory available-to-promise is updated in real time. Plus, customers are now more educated during the buying process with all the product information and images they need at their fingertips. Rather than ordering from a line of text on a spreadsheet, they can now easily research their products and even manage multiple orders at once.
With their eCommerce solution up and running, Skagit continues to fulfill their vision of not being just a farm, but a great company to do business with in the 21st century.
"Customer satisfaction has gone way up. When things are going well, we hear from our customers less. And in this case, that's a good thing!" - Jeremy Myrick, IT Manager, Skagit Horticulture