Act Now, an organization in Cornwall promoting broadband to business, have used us as a case study in ecommerce. We’re flattered, so thanks guys!
Below is a copy of what they’ve said.
In 2004, Kurt and Lucy Jewson left their jobs to focus on creating a new business, inspired by their baby’s bottom.
They used washable nappies rather than disposable for their baby, Tom, but because cloth nappies are bulkier than disposable, they struggled to find clothes large enough around the bottom to fit. The number of comments on internet forums from parents in the same boat convinced them there was a sizeable market for clothes that were ‘cut for cloth.’
In a leap of faith, they both resigned from well paid jobs, cashed in all their investments and established a business to supply organic baby clothes that would fit over cloth nappies.
The first website http://www.cut4cloth.co.uk/ went live in June 2004, but was a disaster. Kurt says: “It did not work properly and did not even feature in the search rankings. We had gone to a web company run by a friend of a friend– but it simply did not work out. We scrapped the site and started again. The next site was great and worked perfectly straightaway. It goes to show it is absolutely vital to make sure you have the right web designer on board. Our position on the search engines went from page 33 to the first page almost overnight.’
Although the website was working well, the orders it was generating had to be processed manually.
Kurt says: ‘It was a laborious process and as our level of business started to grow, it was clear we needed to move to an automated system. We needed software that would link our back-end systems with the website.
This coincided with the business rebranding itself as Frugi (Latin for ‘fruits of the earth’) as the original brand name ‘Cut 4 Cloth’ tied the business too closely to babies in nappies and they wanted to extend the business into organic clothing for older children and mothers.
This meant that a new website was needed to establish the new brand name and deliver the level of automation that was increasingly required.
“A Cornwall based company, IT West, offered to develop a bespoke software system for us on the condition that they could subsequently use the template for other clients. We seized this opportunity to be ‘guinea pigs’ as it meant that for an affordable price we could achieve a level of automation that would normally cost upwards of £60,000 and was normally only available to companies far larger than us.’
The new website http://www.welovefrugi.com/ went live in January 2008.
Kurt says: ‘Using software called Mamut, the designers developed a system to link the website to our ordering and stock control systems.
‘This means that now if a customer wants to order a certain item, they will see immediately if it is in stock and if not, when it will be in stock. They are told this prior to making their credit card payment and confirming their order. Previously, they would have had to make their order and then we would have had to manually check if it was in stock and if not, we would telephone them. Of course, if they had already paid and then wanted to cancel, this caused inconvenience for the customer as well as tying up our time. So the new system is fantastic. It is a real time saver for us and improves our customer service.
‘As well as linking to our stock control, the linking software means that we have information about all orders pending, complete orders, back orders, payments taken and so on – everything is a click away. Previously, it would have taken us ages to go through all the individual orders and compile the data in order to achieve an overview. Now we know exactly where we are at ant one point.
‘The invoicing system is also automated and we can print out invoices that include a peel off label addressed to the customer, that we can attach straight to the small potato sacks we use as packing.
‘We also operate as wholesalers and with the automated system, retailers can have the benefit of logging into the site and making their order, with instant information about stock availability and delivery. Of course, they greatly value this additional efficiency as it helps them to streamline their own operations.’
Kurt continues: ‘The functionality of the automated system has made an incredible difference to the business. If we did not have it, we would need a full time member of staff dealing with orders alone. So it has brought us terrific cost savings, time savings and improved efficiency – as well as enabling us to deliver a better customer experience which is likely to lead to higher levels of repeat business and customer loyalty.
‘Now that we have achieved the functionality we wanted from our website, we are moving our focus towards further search engine optimisation.
‘We have retained the old Cut4Cloth website and are using that now for a blog and outbound links whilst we sell our organic clothing through the new Frugi website, where we are also focusing on the task of building inbound links, mainly through a combination of directories and article sites.
‘It is important to keep the momentum going with the website – both in terms of functionality and search engine optimisation. In future, we want to develop the online system further, for example through adding an enhanced discounting facility.
Kurt concludes: “Developing a fully automated website for online trading has meant we can deliver the quality of service our customers want and maximise productivity. It is critical to the business and our plans for future growth.’