January 6, 2010, 12:00 AM

Tool King rebuilds its e-commerce site on an open source platform

To focus on its core competency of selling tools, Tool King has traded its strictly in-house web site technology environment for the Magento open source e-commerce platform.

Tool King LLC has traded its strictly in-house web site technology environment for the Magento open source e-commerce platform. “This allows us to focus on our business goal of selling more tools instead of developing software, which isn’t relevant to our business,” director of e-commerce Ben Skigen tells Internet Retailer.

Open-source software has freely available source code that is open for development by a broad community of developers.

Tool King, which recorded an increase in web sales of about 5% to $25.4 million in 2009 from $24.2 million in 2008, is No. 320 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

The retailer expects to save hundreds of thousands of dollars compared with what it would have cost to develop its own new platform, Skigen says. He also expects that the Magento platform, which was deployed for Tool King by Denver-based web site design firm Unleaded Software Inc., will operate at a much higher level of performance compared to a site developed in-house.

“Building a site from scratch in-house is literally reinventing the wheel and requires a huge amount of time and resources to do correctly, if you can even do it correctly,” Skigen says. “Magento is a solid platform that is flexible enough for our needs, but strong enough to compete with much more expensive e-commerce solutions.”

As Internet Retailer reported last fall, Tool King decided to go with a new web site platform developed with the PHP programming language, which supports a high level of flexibility in web page design and functionality, Skigen says.

It later announced that it had opted to go with the Magento Enterprise Edition, which is written in the PHP programming language under the Zend application framework. Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform originally developed by Varien.

The Magento enterprise edition integrates with Tool King’s Microsoft Dynamics back-end ERP system, which includes accounting and other applications. The retailer’s information technology staff worked with Unleaded Software to set up Tool King’s product catalog in the new Magento platform.

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