B-Commerce Case Study

Running Bare: Leveraging Retail Experience And Integration To Succeed in B2B

Background

Running Bare is a leading Australian sportswear retailer who dress women of all shapes and sizes in premium activewear. As ecommerce specialists, Solutionists were enlisted to build their successful B2C online platform in 2012. To ensure that results stay maximised and growth remains consistent, the two companies continually work together to optimise the online experience. The web store is integrated with their ERP system, which means customer data, sales data and stock holdings are real-time. The site also adopts a responsive design to create a high-quality cross-device online experience that feels familiar and intuitive to its users – helping the platform to achieve its ongoing success.  

However, processes for their B2B venture were still based around manual procedures, causing inefficiencies throughout the wholesale buying experience. Spreadsheets were widely used for order forms and product catalogues, and orders were keyed in manually by customer service representatives. Too much valuable time was taken up with tedious administrative tasks and a seamless online experience for their wholesale customers appeared to be lacking.

With the success of the B2C online store, Running Bare approached Solutionists to discuss how a B2B online solution on the MaxCommerce platform could streamline the wholesale buying process, improve customer experience and business productivity. Solutionists conducted extensive analysis to gain insights into daily business challenges so that key requirements could be defined and a B2B solution could be crafted, which would reduce administration time yet accommodate the different buying behaviours that were unique to Running Bare’s wholesale customer. 

What We Did

The objective was to provide an ecommerce platform that would leverage the B2C customer experience, and operate alongside the existing ERP integration, to provide wholesale customers with a seamless online shopping journey, thus eliminating manual processes. Several key functions were identified that the solution would have to accommodate.

International Market

The wholesale website would need to support multi-currency and associated tax calculations for it to realise global growth opportunities. At the time, the retail site supported both AUD and GBP but for the wholesale platform it was important to future-proof by enabling customers to purchase in their local currency.

The Solution

To accommodate US customers, the USD currency was added. A standard admin feature was applied to make it easy for Running Bare to add and manage access for their US visitors.

The master currency supported in the ERP system was AUD, so the solution was to automatically convert the order amounts from USD into AUD via the integration between the B2B website and the ERP. This meant orders would not have to be manually converted and keyed into the ERP system, saving time and costs.

Stock Requirements

The Running Bare wholesale business model had three types of wholesale products available: items available for immediate delivery, indent items made specifically for a customer, and overs (items available for purchase after scheduled deliveries are completed). Each product type would require different stock rules that the front-end user experience would have to reflect.

The Solution

To accommodate the different wholesale product types, stock rules were implemented, which would automatically take care of stock availability and show or hide products from the front-end accordingly. Due to tight integration with the ERP, stock holding would be in real-time to minimise the risk for human error as the system would not allow items to oversell and disregard actual stock on hand for items which were made to order.

Browsing Experience

A seamless shopping experience was just as important for the B2B online solution as it was for the B2C site. Browsing through the various product types and collections would need to be uncomplicated and product images would need to showcase the colours, fabric and prints. 

The Solution

Products were categorised not only by product type and brand but were also customisable by collections familiar to the Running Bare wholesale customer, allowing for trouble-free browsing and selection.

Since it was important to promote each product’s bright colours, patterns and material, catalogues were designed using the B2C layout with clear-cut product imagery. Instead of listing each colour as a separate product like on the consumer site, the wholesale solution was configured to show colour swatches to promote available colourways by product. This visual presentation allowed for quick scanning of the wholesale catalogue to speed up the online buying process.

Scheduled Delivery by Product Variant

Wholesale customers often placed orders at the start of a season and arranged delivery for later in the year, meaning monthly deliveries were not uncommon. This was a unique B2B requirement that the platform would have to support.

In line with the B2C product range, product characteristics for wholesale were limited to size and colour, however, a traditional B2C selection interface would not allow for bulk ordering by month, so a more traditional B2B order form needed to be developed without any visual appeal being lost.

The Solution

As delivery by month was important for wholesale, the front-end selection interface was formatted in a way that would enable customers to choose large quantities across sizes and colours by month. The shopping cart and the checkout were also modified to support the same effortless layout and accommodate large item quantities.

B2B Payments

While online payment options were crucial for the Running Bare B2C website, these aren’t relevant to a wholesale customer, so the wholesale checkout and payment process called for an alternative payment method.

The Solution

The B2C payment options were removed and replaced with an “on account” payment method commonly seen in the B2B online space. 

Agent Login

Allowing sales agents to have access to the platform enabled them to place orders on behalf of customers and assist them with the online ordering process. Running Bare would therefore need the ability to manage access for their sales agents easily. 

The Solution

The front-end was modified to enable sales agents to log in and checkout on behalf of their customers anywhere at any time. To ensure Running Bare had full control over access levels, they were given the ability to manage and add new agent logins and associate customers with each login through the admin interface.

The Results

The Running Bare B2B site offered wholesale customers an easy-to-use online ordering system, which leveraged the B2C integration, processes and customer experience, and yet distinguished itself from B2C through features unique to the wholesale buying process.   

Knowing that orders would flow through to the ERP system automatically, sales agents quickly saw the benefits of placing their orders via the online platform. The first season saw an uptake in online ordering and online sales on the wholesale site have continued to grow, making it an integral arm of the Running Bare wholesale business.

Ecommerce Manager Jacqui Smith was pleased with the outcome:

“Running Bare has been working with the Solutionists team for over 5 years on various ecommerce projects and site builds. Their strong understanding of the integration of our production management systems and knowledge of the variations between the retail and wholesale buying channels, help to make the creation of this site from brief to development to build and testing the most seamless project that we have undertaken.”


author:

Sina Braeuning

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