July 6, 2006, 12:00 AM

How tiny CompulsivePaintball.com targets multi-channel growth

Five years after launching a paintball retail web site in his Penn State dorm room, Jonathan Stark is doing 10 times his first-year sales with a multi-channel platform that integrates all web, store and warehouse operations.

Five years after launching a paintball retail web site in his Penn State dorm room, Compulsive Paintball Inc. founder and president Jonathan Stark is doing 10 times his first-year sales with a multi-channel platform that integrates all web, store and warehouse operations, he tells InternetRetailer.com.

Stark, who operates Compulsive Paintball with the help of only one employee, expects to do over $1 million in sales this year, up from the $110,000 he raked in the first year after launching in May 2001. “By the end of next year, we’ll easily be a multi-million-dollar business,” he says.

Compulsive Paintball sells a full range of products related to the sporting game of paintball, including guns that range in price from $50 to well over $1,000 and some 3,800 SKUs of related gear such as protective clothing, gear-carrying packs and paint supplies. The company operates a single store near its warehouse in the Pittsburgh suburb of North Huntington, PA.

Until recently its growth was stifled by the limitations of its technology platform, which was unable to process customer and inventory data across channels and throughout software applications for managing operations like customer orders, inventory and shipping. Stark had tried several platforms before settling on Everest Advanced enterprise software from Everest Software Inc., which has enabled the retailer to increase the number of orders it can process without having to re-enter data into multiple applications to update inventory, shipping and other operations.

“Now it’s no longer software that’s holding us up, it’s just space,” he says, noting that he’s planning to expand both his store and warehouse. On a typical day he might handle 130 orders, compared with only 40 on a prior system that required additional employees to re-enter data, he says.

A key part of the system is its ability to share real-time sales and inventory data across its store, telephone and web order activity, Stark says. “If someone buys something in our store, the inventory record is immediately updated on our web site,” he says.

Although the store now does only about 3% of total sales, it plays an important role in interfacing directly with customers as well as with vendors, Stark says. “Our business grows on word-of-mouth, and the store helps us build rapport with players.”

The Everest Advanced enterprise suite includes several integrated modules, including e-commerce, inventory management, shipping, payroll and accounting, and it produced a return on investment within six to eight months, Stark says. An expert in information technology, Stark implemented the software himself in 2001 at a total cost of about $24,000, including hardware and several days of training from Everest. Compulsive Paintball is using the On-Premise desktop version of Everest Advanced, which receives automated updates over the web and uses a combination of client/server and Internet integration technology to share data throughout its suite of applications.

The Everest Advanced suite is capable of scaling up to accommodate Compulsive Paintball’s expected growth, though Stark has made one major modification with outside technology. The Everest system comes with the Microsoft Desktop Engine database, but after about eight months, Stark replaced it with the more robust Microsoft SQL Server, which can handle higher volumes of data. The migration to the new database server took about 10 minutes, he adds.

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