April 15, 2014, 1:46 PM

How Eco-Bags packs in more B2B and direct-to-consumer sales

The reusable bag manufacturer and retailer says its new e-commerce platform has helped it expand sales to more than a dozen countries in Europe and Asia.

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Back in 2005 Eco-Bags Products Inc., which manufactures and sells reusable bags, was at a crossroads. Resource-constrained, but hoping to grow sales, it needed to simplify the way it ran its business online.

The company had been using Intuit Inc. QuickBooks accounting software, but the program was incompatible with one of its fulfillment applications. Looking for a simpler, more expansive tool set that it could use to bolster its online presence and grow both its  business of selling to other companies as well as directly to consumers, Eco-Bags Products turned to the mid-market version of NetSuite Inc.’s SuiteCommerce e-commerce technology platform.

“NetSuite offered the flexibility to run different channels simultaneously so that there’s no juggling,” Eco-Bags Products CEO Sharon Rowe says. That means both its B2B and direct-to-consumer sales flow through the same system.

About two years ago, the retailer’s B2B sales suddenly began to skyrocket (Rowe declines to give an exact percentage increase), which she attributes to B2B buyers becoming more willing to buy online. But the B2B buyers were not all alike, and Eco-Bags wanted to offer different types of pricing for each type. Those buyers include retailers, distributors and promotional companies that purchase Eco-Bags’ products and personalize them with their clients’ logo. Each group has its own expectations for pricing, and NetSuite allowed Eco-Bags to assign prices based on the type of buyer.

“NetSuite allows us to have different price levels for different buyer types,” she says. “For instance, if it’s a retailer, there’s one price. If it’s a distributor, there’s another price. And if there’s a promotional buyer, there’s another price.” The pricing differences are also based on purchase volumes.

Having its direct-to-consumer and B2B sales routed through a single platform has helped Eco-Bags Products grow its business, Rowe says. The company has expanded sales across more than a dozen countries in Europe and Asia and avoided the cost and complexity of on-premise systems for its growing business. NetSuite clients connect to its software via the Internet, and thus don’t have to host it on their own servers.

"NetSuite has provided the integration we needed and wanted in one package that we could use from wherever we are in the world,” she says.

The cost to retailers to deploy SuiteCommerce starts at $1,999 per month for the Mid-market version and $3,999 per month for the Enterprise version, which can handle more product catalogs, NetSuite says.

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