A Forrester report points out challenges faced by some business-to-business firms working online.
After a successful build-your-own-bag service at its own site, bag manufacturer Timbuk2 is sharing its software with eBags so shoppers can design and order its custom messenger bags without leaving eBags` site.
Since launching an e-commerce site in late 2000, custom-bag manufacturer Timbuk2 has seen web sales rocket from zero to 50% of its sales, vice president Jordan Reiss tells Internet Retailer.com. That figure could climb higher fast with the launch of the San Francisco-based bagmaker’s “Build a Bag” feature on eBags.com in February.
Timbuk2 already had developed a Flash-based program linked to its own e-commerce system that lets customers order messenger bags, laptop sleeves and commuter bags in a variety of sizes and colors and with extra features. And eBags already was selling Timbuk2’s ready-made bags on its site. Now, eBags has integrated Timbuk2’s software into its own system, allowing shoppers to design their own messenger bags online without leaving the eBags site.
“Some bike shops with web sites offered ‘Build a Bag,’ but to do it they had to link shoppers to our web site. That made it a kind of a non-starter for retailers like eBags, so we developed the software as a plug-in application that we could give to our retailers around the world,” says Reiss. “As a retailer, eBags has more marketing dollars by a factor of 1,000 than we have. So for them to increase our brand awareness on their site is a great deal for both parties.”
Reiss adds that while the company hired an-in-house development team to write the e-commerce Build a Bag application, it was still a relatively “low-budget” project. The company’s larger investment -- and a key to fast turn-around on web sales -- has been in custom manufacturing machinery and processes, which it’s spent millions to develop over the past several years. “The ability to turn out a single bag in 20 minutes is what enables us to sell on the web effectively,” Reiss says. In addition to its e-commerce operation and partnerships, Timbuk2 products are in approximately 1,000 dealer locations throughout the world, with the bulk of those outlets in the U.S.