When Michael Recht started his business in trims and accessories in 1950, he delivered his goods personally, by tram. Next, he bought a small van, which served as his office, warehouse and despatch depot. Today, M.Recht Accessories has warehouses, sales representatives, and agents throughout Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. From buttons, zippers and fasteners to ribbons, safety pins and scissors, M.Recht Accessories has everything a clothing manufacturer could ask for.
Now the company is taking the next step into new territory, in more ways than one. The company identified an opportunity to expand into the consumer market of home sewers and sewing hobbyists, by doing business on the Internet. Known for the quality of its products and services, M.Recht Accessories went looking for a quality e-commerce solution. The company already relied on the Progress-based Commerce@Work from systems integrator, IT Smart, for its back-office functions.
It chose web applications that would easily integrate with that software: Progress-based Rose ERP from Wild Rose Information Services.
“We’ve used INFOR’s Commerce@Work for nine years, and it has been an extremely reliable system supported by the underlying Progress database,” said Russell Gecelter, IT Systems Support Manager at M.Recht Accessories. “The Progress technology is incredibly reliable and easy to use, so it really made sense to look for another Progress application for the website.”
After exploring its options, M.Recht Accessories turned to Wild Rose Information Services, which was established in 2004 by Mike Arnold, a former consultant with Progress Software. The Rose ERP application offered a highly customized solution with the ability to showcase products in a multi-tiered structure, take orders and accept payments online.
“Since Rose ERP is written in Progress, it affords the same levels of reliability and quality we have come to expect from our IT systems,” said Gecelter. “It gave us an affordable infrastructure to establish the retail website and we were able to use our existing SonicMQ software for the messaging service, which was very easy to integrate and delivers an instantaneous response. Rose ERP fits seamlessly with the rest of our Progress architecture to give us real-time processing and transactional capabilities,” he said. M.Recht Accessories worked closely with Wild Rose and IT Smart to implement the new system and develop various interfaces to enable seamless communication.
“One of the biggest benefits of the Progress approach is the way it provides a secure and direct communications channel through the firewall to the database, alleviating the need to run a second database outside the firewall and enabling the company to have a single source of truth,” said IT Smart’s Brian Nally. “This saves M.Recht Accessories administrative overheads while ensuring real-time access to pricing and stock details.”
Enforcing Business Rules
The Progress technology has allowed M.Recht Accessories to establish separate business rules and unit pricing for home-based consumers from clothing manufacturers and retailers, enforcing them automatically through the website.
“We normally require our trade customers to purchase packs of 1,000 buttons, but allow consumers to buy as few as ten buttons at a time,” Gecelter explained. “The system identifies whether they are a retailer or wholesaler and applies the appropriate requirements and pricing to the transaction.”
The new website went live in September 2008 and is currently averaging 40 online orders a month from consumers, while a growing number of the company’s wholesale clients have also started purchasing online. They are provided with a unique login which identifies them and ensures they receive relevant pricing on their purchases.
As a long-term wholesaler, the company currently has low visibility in the consumer market and is taking steps to build awareness amongst its new target market.
“We’re about to start our first advertising campaign, with a special offer to readers of a leading patchwork and quilting magazine, so we hope that will start to build more traffic to the website. The fact that people can visit our online store 24 hours a day, see all our products and purchase them in small quantities that they can’t buy anywhere else should combine to make us a convenient and appealing prospect,” Gecelter said.
“We’ve already had people placing orders at midnight and some orders have come in from overseas, so the market opportunity here is enormous.” As usage of the website grows, M.Recht Accessories is also planning to enhance the functionality to allow customers to track the status of their orders and view their sales history.