Case Study: Business to Business Web Site – Sullivans
Originally established in 1972, Sullivans, Inc. has grown from a single regional warehouse in Hanson, MA to a nationwide network with distribution facilities in Bessemer, AL, Hanson, MA, Flower Mound, TX, and Sparks, NV. This carefully planned expansion has enabled Sullivans, Inc. to become the world’s largest distributor of HJC Helmets and Joe Rocket Motorcycle Accessories.
As warehouse locations and delivery performance increased, dealer demand for more flexible order placement also began to rise, with many dealers requesting after hours and weekend access. As a result, The Integrated Solution Group, Inc. (ISG) was contracted to design, develop, and implement a business to business web site that would allow Sullivan’s dealers 24X7 order placement capabilities.
- Develop eCommerce web site showcasing all products with pricing and availability.
- Provide dealers 24 hour, 7 day a week access to place product orders and check stock.
- Display product availability by warehouse and allow dealers to select shipping warehouse.
- Create Specials page to allow merchandising of close out and discontinued items.
- Integrate web activity for automatic update into existing Order Entry module and allow review/acceptance of web orders.
- Provide extensive product detail on web site to reduce dealer information requests.
- Provide security to restrict web catalog access to wholesale dealers.
- Build user maintainable web site.
Phase 1: Requirements. The first phase of the project involved a detailed analysis of Sullivans, Inc. eCommerce requirements along with a study of available software interfaces. This information was combined with dealer requirements, evaluations of existing product information (catalog graphics and product data), and Sullivans, Inc. personnel capabilities to create the project plan and requirement specifications.
Phase 2: Evaluation. ISG conducted an evaluation of available eCommerce web software including hosted solutions, software packages, and web construction kits. This phase involved meeting with several vendors and validating the features, functions, performance, and cost of the products. Conclusion of phase 2 included an extensive product review with Sullivan’s senior management. Database platform, capacity limitations, hosting requirements, source code availability, licensing requirements, ease of use, vendor support, and overall cost were all evaluated. Based upon ISG’s recommendation, the decision was made to license a Windows Server based eCommerce web package written in Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP)and utilizing Microsoft’s Sequel Server database. The product was acquired with a perpetual license and full source code, thereby enabling ISG to customize the software to Sullivan’s requirements.
Phase 3: Building the web site. To facilitate configuration, implementation, and testing, ISG installed a Windows 2003 Server at Sullivans, Inc. and in conjunction with Sullivans, Inc. personnel, installed and configured the eCommerce software. ISG then built a custom interface to Sullivans, Inc. legacy system to allow import of all necessary product data. To help speed deployment, ISG developed additional software to merge catalog graphics and product data to create import files that allowed posting directly into the MSSQL database. ISG also trained Sullivans, Inc. personnel on all aspects of catalog configuration and maintenance, as well as creation and insertion of HTML product information pages.
To conclude the project ISG developed FTP scripts to transport orders, integration software to accept and import orders, notification systems to alert sales personnel of orders pending review, and all software necessary to update customers, products, and inventory on the web site.