Bradstone International (BI), based in Wiltshire, England, handles export and licensing for the landscaping and structural products made by Aggregate Industries UK Ltd. Since 1972, Bradstone International has grown its licensee network from its mainland European origins to embrace the whole world.
Since Gloucester-based iconnet developed that first system, increasing licensee sophistication and desire for more efficient administration efficiency at BI meant an upgrade was inevitable.
The new system fulfils licensees' user-experience expectations when ordering polyurethane moulds. It meets the latest security protocols too, as well as being available in English and French, which lets licensees search the Bradstone mould catalogue faster. And, of course, the new site is responsive, to reflect today's wider mobile device use.
Margaret Presse, Bradstone International's business development manager says: 'As well as saving time, the upgraded system, which features Aggregate Industries' latest brand ID, boosts accuracy. That's because it reduces opportunities for the data entry errors that sometimes happened during manual order-entry with the old system.'
Sales administrators can also export detailed lists of product codes, descriptions, weights and prices. And recent and historical sales-histories for customer accounts. From customer order summaries to management reports, the data generated is also accompanied by images from Bradstone International's image library (another application developed by iconnet).
Margaret continues: 'iconnet were already involved with our website when we originally came up with the idea of online mould ordering. We knew them well and trusted them. They'd always been knowledgeable and professional, and did good work. It seemed logical to continue with iconnet for our first foray into ecommerce. The same applied, even more so, in fact, when we needed the second-generation site.'
Getting the new MOS right, and including sales administration functionality, promised greater speed and accuracy compared to faxing complicated orders – often for hundreds of moulds.
'Because the original mould ordering system only had the licensee-facing online shop,' says Margaret, 'the website's capability ended when an order was placed. Compare this to the new solution with its back-end costing system and ability to send order details direct to the mould shop.
'While the sophistication of the second-generation site increased, the quality of iconnet's service, and the timeliness of their communications, stayed at the same high level.
'After six-months' work, they completed the updated website and it went live, under our new new brand identity, as a fully responsive HTTPS site featuring SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology for security.'
Pushed to recall any glitches during the project, Margaret Presse mentions two things: 'One was caused by us when we had to put the work with iconnet “on the back burner” for a while at the height of our peak summer season due to the pressure on our sales team – iconnet were very understanding.
The second was the unforseen challenge of existing legacy data and the new system's inability to pick up all the embedded information. That posed an extra challenge, but the important thing is that they just got on with putting it right and soon had everything working perfectly – which it continues to do. If there was a single “Eureka!” moment in the project it was probably when we eventually turned the new system on and it worked perfectly.'
The legacy of iconnet's work is a fully functioning sales admin and licensee-purchasing tool that eliminates hours of manual data input and processing. What used to be a pure selling device is now a time-saving tool for the Bradstone team before orders go to the mould shop for manufacture.
'The measurable and qualitative benefits,' Margaret Presse explains, 'are considerable for us and our licensees.' For reasons of commercial confidentiality she's reluctant to give details – but hints at time savings 'exceeding 50%'.
'The new system definitely saves time and money for us and our licensees. There's improved administrative accuracy too. What's more, generation of matching order and administration lists reduces opportunities for error, invoice queries and payment delays – that's good for cash flow. We've also stopped publishing traditional hard-copy pricelists.
'From a customer's perspective, a better user-experience means licensees are more likely to place one large order instead of spreading smaller orders over several weeks. This helps them estimate, budget and do What if? calculations as well as placing orders.'
Margaret's team is thrilled with the transformation wrought by iconnet. But what of customers and other stakeholders? Licensees clearly appreciate the new site with its immediacy and no drawn-out phone and fax transactions. Now it's just fast, accurate, fully-documented online transactions that make buying easier than ever for Bradstone International's customers.
With the partnership well into its second decade, what does the future hold? It's no surprise to discover that another project is being planned. Margaret loosely describes it as 'something involving buying and selling products'. It's still early days and she's necessarily circumspect, but it will build on the mould ordering system. As if that isn't sufficient endorsement, she adds: 'Although I haven't recommended iconnet yet, I'd do so without hesitation.'
'I've been with Bradstone International since 1983, so I've seen iconnet's involvement from the start. Everything about them and their work is positive. It's always been pleasurable, disagreement-free and driven by shared commitment to achieve agreed goals.'
'Above all, 'Margaret Presse concludes, 'iconnet understand our requirements and have the skill to deliver what they promise. They're a key part of our team.'