Company: Ideal HardwareCustomer: CrimsonwingSubmitted by: FieldworksComputer distributor, Ideal Hardware is successfully fighting off competition from dotcom upstarts by enabling both resellers and their customers to log on and buy through personalised web sites.

To avoid the logistics problems that beset so many dotcoms, Ideal’s Internet product ordering and merchandising system, BORIS, has been integrated with existing back end systems by integrator, Crimsonwing so that orders can be fulfilled quickly, accurately and as importantly, profitably.When an Ideal customer logs on, they are greeted with their own personal pages and catalogue, which makes choosing and ordering quick and easy. Previous shopping lists make ordering even easier. However, for those customers who want to browse, product comparison, availability and search are available, based on either specifications or manufacturers.From the customer’s point of view, customer specific electronic pricing, balance of accounts, including available credit and limits are all viewed in real time.

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For Ideal, because BORIS is fully integrated into its ERP systems and call back and contact management system, full history of customer purchases for the last three months, product back order status reports and order tracking are all available.Ideal Hardware was looking for a more innovative Internet solution because, like any company in the PC business, it has become vulnerable to competition, not just from within its sector, but from a rash of new entrants for whom cost and resources are no longer barriers to entry.Ideal therefore knew that it had to adopt new ways of doing business not simply to keep pace but to find a competitive differentiator, not just finding new systems to automate current processes but also offering its customers a more convenient way to do business.Karl Harris, Ideal’s head of e-commerce business development explained, “Some customers may never order via the web, but if they use the online service to search for product information, track their orders, view their account information and proof of delivery, that is still a success. You can still save time and money by cutting down the number of calls to the call centre, making the ordering process less frustrating.

That way we are still adding value to our customers.”Using e-commerce package, enfinity from Intershop, Crimsonwing combined the Ideal product catalogue with web pages particular to each Ideal customer, enabling them to present an instant on line catalogue ordering service to their customers in turn. The solution also works the other way around, providing resellers with a quick way to find the best price for PC and peripheral supply.Paul Davis, Crimsonwing’s e-business manager explains how Java enables Ideal’s different applications to work seamlessly together. “With Java bringing everything together, resellers can re-order on line without any manual intervention.

Java programming enables them to request quotes from all distributors, not just Ideal, and the system will apply logic to pick the best supplier, not just based on price but any criteria they choose.”Crimsonwing is currently using Java to add licensing agreements so that Ideal’s customers can place licensing orders directly into BORIS. Once they are connected to the ERP system purchase orders are generated automatically. BORIS also frees up resources and cuts down on admin, allowing Ideal’s sales personnel to concentrate on selling and negotiating on the higher margin products. Call back features are integrated into the online service, so customers can still choose to order by telephone, web or fax.

Using Intershop enabled Ideal to make savings approaching £1 million compared to other solutions, even taking into account Crimsonwing’s integration fees. Davis explains, “In a new market where there are many different vendors all claiming to offer the same solutions, resellers can get confused over which one to pick and they are forced to take a great deal on trust.” Crimsonwing’s advantage was that it has a string of high-profile customers, all referencable, and was working with a well-known package with a strong track record.