For Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holdings, today is an extremely busy and lucrative day because the company he founded 15 years ...
Its old e-commerce platform couldn’t handle the complexities of selling golf products.
After struggling to upgrade its e-commerce sites on its former technology platform, Edwin Watts Golf Shops LLC has increased site functionality and sales with a new Internet-hosted platform at about half the price of its older system, says Robb McCarter, director of e-commerce.
The retailer, which operates three e-commerce sites and more than 90 stores, labored strenuously a couple of years ago to upgrade its former e-commerce platform from a major technology vendor the retailer didn’t name. Edwin Watts “spent four years and over $1 million trying to get it right,” says McCarter, who was hired in 2011 to address the retailer’s technology issues and help increase sales.
But even with all that work, the retailer was still unable to address one of the core needs—presenting golf clubs in several dimensions, he adds. “Most retailers only have to deal with three or four product dimensions, such as color, size and gender,” McCarter says. “But golf clubs can have five or even up to eight dimensions—gender, loft line, flex, the length of the shaft and the degree angle on irons.”
The retailer, which manages some 180,000 product SKUs, shopped around for another e-commerce technology vendor, and decided to go with UniteU Technologies Inc., which offers a software-as-a-service platform that McCarter says provides better functionality at about half the price of his former platform. The retailer can now display its products in eight dimensions if necessary, he adds.
“We have more accurate product listings on our site now, and see more of our products in a feature-rich layout, with multiple images and videos,” he says.
Edwin Watts went live with UniteU in October 2011 after taking 96 days to deploy it at a cost of about $260,000, he adds. By comparison, he figures other platforms could have taken a year or more to deploy at a cost of $1 million or more.
The ongoing cost of subscribing to the UniteU SaaS platform, which the vendor hosts and Edwin Watts accesses via a web connection, is about $240,000 per year, less than half of what he expected to pay for licensing and maintenance of other platforms, McCarter says.
Edwin Watts has also deployed within the UniteU platform the LiquidPixels image management application, which enables the retailer to deploy a single product image and have it automatically resized for each display. Under a prior system, the retailer had to load multiple image sizes, including large, medium and thumbnail to accommodate multiple displays.
It also uses Spring Metrics, an online analytics and marketing application integrated with UniteU that displays online promotions—such as 5%-off coupons that slide out from the side of a web page after a customer spends a certain amount of time on the checkout page. Deployed about six months ago, Spring Metrics has helped to increase conversion rates, McCarter says, though he did not provide details.
Overall, however, the retailer’s new e-commerce technology led to a 28% year-over-year increase in web sales last year to $10.4 million, McCarter says.
Edwin Watts is No. 683 in the Internet Retailer Second 500. Web sales account for about 10% of total sales, the retailer says.