February 25, 2014, 12:41 PM

A compressor manufacturer faces the pressures of selling online

With new software for managing its back-end production as well its customer-facing web site, CMP Corp. is cutting manufacturing time and costs while also offering an online product configurator and faster order fulfillment, the family-owned compressor company says.

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A family-owned manufacturer of compressors for refrigeration units and heating-ventilation-air-conditioning systems, CMP Corp. is investing in its customer-facing e-commerce site and web-based back-end business operations software to sell more products online and better compete with faster production and fulfillment, the company says.

CMP sells more than 1900 products online through its e-commerce site at CMPCorp.com, with customers across 95 countries ordering replacement parts for compressors. In the past year, however, it has stepped up its online game with a new e-commerce site that supports self-service ordering of customized compressors as well as individual parts, reducing the time it take customers to place orders and freeing up customer service representatives.

The new e-commerce site, based on the SuiteCommerce software from NetSuite Inc., features a product configurator developed with NetSuite-certified technology providers Centricity Systems, which provided software coding for the configurator, and web design firm Intente. The configurator enables customers to customize a compressor based on their needs within minutes, helping to expedite orders without tying up customer service agents, says Adam Harper, CMP’s director of administration. “The online configurator is a huge competitive advantage for us,” he says.

Sign Up for B@Becnews for FREEAt the same time, he adds, new software CMP has deployed from NetSuite is helping to streamline its back-end production processes, which enables CMP to expedite the availability of items customers want to order while also reducing the manufacturing costs, Harper says.

In addition to deploying NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce for its customer-facing e-commerce site, CMP is running NetSuite’s Manufacturing Edition software as part of its back-end business operations software, which also includes applications for financial accounting and inventory management.

Harper says CMP chose NetSuite over other software systems for two main reasons. For one, CMP wanted a completely cloud-based software system hosted outside of its own facilities on the Internet that it could access anywhere from web browsers, and without having to maintain as much in-house technology that could get knocked out during a storm. CMP lost much of its data center capacity as well as other technology during a tornado several years ago, so when it was ready to upgrade its e-commerce, manufacturing and financial software, it wanted to mitigate such risks by using software based “in the cloud” outside of its own facilities.

The second reason CMP chose NetSuite was the extent of data reports its business managers can easily pull from the software without relying on the I.T. department, Harper says. The reporting has been particularly helpful in streamlining production processes, he adds. For example, when workers use lathe and drilling machines to forge parts of compressors, multiple steps of the process are recorded in the NetSuite software. If a part that is expected to take 30 minutes to make actually takes 45 minutes, CMP can pull reports from the software to see which steps during the manufacturing process took longer than usual. It may learn that a machine was temporarily down for maintenance, or that a worker used the wrong drilling equipment.

Since it started using the Manufacturing Edition software a year ago, CMP has realized such benefits as slashing the average time to make crankshafts, resulting in a 25% reduction in the cost of producing them, Harper says.

By making such improvements in its manufacturing processes, CMP can better support its online orders, he adds. While the new e-commerce site and online product configurator provide for easier and faster ordering by customers, CMP also relies on its improved manufacturing processes to ensure that customers’ desired items are ready to ship. “When a compressor goes down, a customer needs a new one immediately,” Harper says.

The ability to process orders faster is helpings CMP reach its goal of providing deliveries within a few days to a broader region from its base in Oklahoma City. If customers have to wait more than four days for delivery, they usually opt for a supplier closer to them, Harper says.

In the meantime, CMP is hoping that the new e-commerce site and product configurator will support its goal of increasing sales of full compressors as well as individual parts to international customers. Many large customers overseas, Harper says, may buy multiple compressors in single bulk orders if they can more easily customize what they need. While shipping a single compressor overseas is not likely—a single compressor can weigh from 800 to over 1000 pounds, costing too much in freight—shipping a dozen or more in a single load could take advantage of lower freight costs per unit shipped, he adds.

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