January 7, 2014, 10:52 AM

How a mid-sized e-retailer chose its first e-commerce platform

Discount Ramps sought technology that connects easily to its existing customer relationship management and accounting software from NetSuite, the retailer’s president says. Kalio’s e-commerce platform does that, and also allows the retailer to merchandise more effectively and make site changes fast, he adds.

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Online retailer Discount Ramps.com LLC, which sells products for loading, hauling and transporting all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, is launching a new e-commerce site this quarter using software from Kalio Inc. Although the retailer ranks No. 461 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and brought in more than $23 million in web sales in 2012, this will be its first true e-commerce platform,  president Bob Krolski says.

What Discount Ramps has been operating on is a patchwork web site of HTML files built by its in-house staff that connect to the shopping cart provided by NetSuite Inc., which also provides the retailer with its back-end business operations software like financial and customer relationship management applications, Krolski says. While that set-up allows for e-commerce transactions, making large-scale web site changes is difficult and time-consuming, he says. “It also limits the type of functionality that we can offer our customers, including e-commerce standards, such as wish lists and customer reviews,” he adds.

Kalio’s software is hosted over the Internet under a multi-tenant software-as-a-service model, which means all the vendor’s clients use the same copy of a software application at all times. Therefore, when Kalio makes a change to the platform—such as fixing a bug—that change is immediately updated for all clients. Similarly, when it adds a new feature, it can push that feature out to all clients so that a retailer need not wait for a bundled release of updates, which may come out only quarterly or annually, says Kim Planet, vice president of professional services and e-commerce consulting for Kalio.

The software is also easier for the retailer’s developers to work with and has built-in capabilities Discount Ramps can’t create on its own, Krolski says. Once the new site deploys, for instance, Discount Ramps’ navigation will allow shoppers to filter their product searches by various categories, and the site will automatically upsell to them.

“Our current setup doesn’t allow for customers to filter products on the category level and, although we have upsells on the site, they have to be added manually, making updates challenging,” he says. “Kalio also has built-in customer reviews, which we don’t currently have on our web site.”

The new DiscountRamps.com through Kalio will also use responsive web design, which enables it to adapt to the precise size of a shopper’s smartphone or tablet screen and change layout based on how she is holding the device. Approximately 30% of Discount Ramps’s traffic today comes from smartphones and tablets, Krolski says.

“We’re working to personalize our customers’ shopping regardless of what type of device they use,” he says. “Kalio’s on-demand e-commerce platform will empower our team to change content, merchandise and launch promotions without any of the technical constraints that we have been used to.”

Finally, with the functionality and ease of use the retailer required, Kalio also offered its e-commerce platform software at the right price, Krolski says. “Kalio was significantly less expensive than the other platforms we reviewed with equal functionality,” he says, without saying exactly what Discount Ramps pays for Kalio. According to Kalio’s Planet, the software starts at about $6,000 per month and goes up according to the size of the retailer.

Three retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide report Kalio as their e-commerce platform provider.
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