June 10, 2014, 6:00 AM

A brand manufacturer shifts sales to the web

By developing a B2B e-commerce site connected to all key operating systems Dog Is Good is able to better manage leads and make better use of manpower.

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Dog Is Good LLC manufactures products dressed with feel-good or funny messages about life with man’s best friend, such as “It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone,” and “Never walk alone.” Consumers can buy the products online directly on DogIsGood.com, but 80% of sales are wholesale to retailers, co-founder Jon Kurtz says.

Until February 2013, business customers placed the vast majority of those orders by fax or e-mail or by forms filled out at trade shows where Dog Is Good displayed its wares. The manufacturer had to manually enter order information into Intuit Inc.’s QuickBooks financial accounting software and other inventory, financial and operational systems. Kurtz says only he and the one part-time bookkeeper the company had at the time knew how to do the work.

“It was a classic sort of situation that a lot of small businesses get stuck in,” he says. “Everybody starts with QuickBooks, but other systems don’t communicate with it, so you end up just doing it twice and inventory was never real-time. It was maddening.”

It also sucked up a lot of time that could be spent growing the business, or playing fetch. Aiming to do better, Kurtz began vetting technologies that could solve the communication issues among Dog Is Good’s systems. In August 2012 it began implementing NetSuite Inc.’s SuiteCommerce technology platform, which provides integrated back-end business software from NetSuite for managing inventory, accounting and other operations.That includes a consumer-facing e-commerce site, a customer relationship database to manage existing and prospective resellers, and a business-to-business web site for managing wholesale orders. The full transition took about six months to complete, Kurtz says.

Today, Kurtz says more than a third of wholesale orders now come through Dog Is Good’s B2B site, which is accessed by clicking an orange button labeled “Wholesale Info and Login” appearing in the header of every page on DogIsGood.com. Existing buyers can log in and place orders; prospective or new customers fill out an online form with basic contact info and answer further questions, such as “How did you hear about us?” and statements like “I am ready to bring in product” with the pick list of answers providing different time frames such as “right now” and “within six months.”

That form data goes directly into the NetSuite customer relationship managementsystem, and the answers provided help Dog Is Good staffers know how and when to relate to prospective buyers, Kurtz says. The form also asks prospective buyers to provide their company name, location and store count. For example, if a new shopper says she is ready to bring in product right away, she gets put on the list for an immediate call back. Sales people use the store information to conduct some research on the web before calling to glean insights into which types of Dog Is Good products might suit the store’s clientele.

“That gives us a good idea that they will be placing an order, and it’s great for us to know that we should call them right now,” Kurtz says. The answers to the question about how a prospective customer heard about Dog Is Good helps the manufacturer understand what spurred the lead and plan future marketing.

Kurtz says using the NetSuite system saves him about 20 hours a month just on not having to manually manage incoming order data, and cuts the time it takes for him to calculate the commissions for his sales reps from seven hours a month to one and a half. “Now I’m free to do the things I should be doing to grow the business instead of getting sucked into it,” he says.

The cost to companies to deploy NetSuite SuiteCommerce software starts at $1,600 per month and is adjusted upward based on the type of installation and the number of users, NetSuite says.

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