DataSpan Case Study by Exact Macola Manufacturing Pro ERP
About The Company
For more than 35 years, DataSpan, a division of MRI, has provided the highest quality computer storage, business products and data center services available. They have worked closely with more than half of Fortune 1000 companies worldwide, as well as many start-ups and government organizations to optimize how they store, access and protect data, and integrate tomorrow’s technologies with today’s trusted solutions. DataSpan has a strong commitment to superior customer service and has built a solid reputation as a premier value-added reseller in the industry. The company, which since its inception has focused on innovation, initially engineered groundbreaking solutions including 100 percent Certified Tape and RFID Tape and Asset Tracking.
In addition, DataSpan became the first in the industry to achieve SAS 70 certification. DataSpan helps its customers save money, manage risks created by regulatory compliance, protect vital data assets and meet emerging business continuity challenges. They bring both a sophisticated global technological approach and a hometown set of values to every customer relationship, making them a trusted partner to all of their clients.
DataSpan, who has been an Exact Macola customer since June of 2006, determined that in order to continue its growth among the Fortune 1000, it required technology that allowed them to shift the focus from issues such as system maintenance and repair, to opportunities such as customer retention and corporate growth. As part of that shift, they knew they needed an eCommerce cart platform that would integrate with their Exact Macola ERP solution seamlessly managing order status, order history, customer items, pricing calculation methodologies, custom price plans, tracking, automatic synchronizations, and products. The adoption of the right eCommerce solution was critical to ensuring they could fully support the fundamental company goals of attracting and keeping customers. “Our prior cart platform had numerous integration and synchronization issues, which caused us to spend far too much time correcting issues and fixing synchronization issues,” said Don Wilcox, Director of eCommerce, DataSpan. “Unfortunately, many were also customer facing, so this restricted us with customer retention and stopped us from pursuing our new customer acquisition program.”
Rather than managing separate databases, DataSpan also wanted to have tight integration with reliable synchronization so that transactions and data changes could flow smoothly between the two, making it a better customer experience. Another key business challenge that DataSpan faced was the integration of its distributor costing for the thousands of drop-ship products that it offers. The prior cart platform did not allow them to easily incorporate fluctuating pricing from these distributors. Again, stale costs held them back from pursuing their new customer acquisition programs.
Determined to move forward and drive company growth, DataSpan compared three eCommerce cart platforms, and ultimately chose Exact eCommerce due to its tight relationship with Macola, as well as its more robust and automated synchronization. Solution Allows Shift from System Maintenance and Repair to Customer Retention and Growth Objectives
Today, with Exact’s eCommerce and Macola business solutions in place, DataSpan is focusing more on high-level business goals such as customer retention and customer acquisition plans rather than time consuming challenges like system maintenance and repair. “We have been able to increase the usefulness of our eCommerce Web site to attract and keep customers. This allows us another avenue to do business with our customers in a manner that they want to do business with us,” said Wilcox. “Increased flexibility also allows us to focus on more strategic aspects of our online sales and marketing campaigns, as well as providing better transactional processing abilities on the back end.” Today, customers can better manage their own order history, reprint invoices, check order and shipping status, and other tasks that used to require time of DataSpan’s CSR staff. This makes it quicker and more efficient for both customers and CSRs.
In another competitive advantage, the Exact eCommerce platform allows the company to manage many of its eCommerce tasks through the native functionality of the Macola ERP system, and have them flow as a natural extension to the organization’s eCommerce Web site. This approach frees up time to manage more strategic aspects such as pricing strategy, marketing, and other higher business functions.
Benefits & Results
One of the immediate and most gratifying outcomes of DataSpan’s Exact eCommerce implementation is the fact that existing customer satisfaction has increased. DataSpan’s most active customers, who were transitioned from the prior system to Exact eCommerce are far happier, and this satisfaction can be measured in revenue. In just one month since the transfer, the company increased its online revenue to more than $208,000 as compared to an average of $67,000 per month in the prior six months. New customers are also benefiting from the newly implemented Exact eCommerce system, as it is easy to understand and navigate. DataSpan’s transaction and revenue volume increases reinforce the fact that customers’ comfort level out of the gate with the new platform is much higher. DataSpan is now able to provide product data feeds to the various comparison shopping engines, as well as having its site organically indexed by the various search engines. Its product search, category navigation, and menu navigation elements are fast and easy to understand for first-time customers and gets them to the product they are looking for in the fewest number of clicks.
Also, integrating product strategies such as highlighted products and related products are important in that they help customers easily see and navigate to the logically related product. “This type of merchandising makes it far easier to know about and add additional items to their cart, thus increasing sales, increasing customer satisfaction, and decreasing the amount of time required searching for products,” said Wilcox. In addition to the immediate ROI from which DataSpan has benefited, the eCommerce implementation team was rated very highly. “They addressed our issues and needs in a clear professional manner. They uncovered implementation issues within our Macola configuration and helped us solve them,” said Wilcox. This hands-on approach resulted in a solid system that runs as expected and allows DataSpan to focus on the more strategic aspects of its eCommerce initiatives.