August 23, 2006, 12:00 AM

New e-commerce systems bear fruit at The Fruit Company

With anticipation that web sales will grow by 133% in 2006, The Fruit Company is rolling out a new shopping cart, order management system, and site design changes.

The Fruit Company’s e-commerce business is bearing so much fruit that the online retailer is overhauling and updating its infrastructure to keep pace with demand.

In addition to rolling out a new shopping cart and order management system, The Fruit Company, No. 485 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites , is also redesigning major portions of its web store.

Working with Aivea Corp., a Portland, OR, e-commerce and systems development company, Fruit Company will soon introduce a new shopping cart that reduces the check-out process by at least two steps. The new shopping cart also features new enhancements for customers to track their order status and shopping history and other information.

Fruit Company is using Aviea to help with systems integration and programming, but most of the work is being designed and implemented internally, says vice president of marketing and technology Matt Stuewe. The upgrades are needed to keep pace with online sales, which could top $10 million in 2006, an increase of 133% over web revenue of $4.3 million in 2005.

With rising sales, Fruit Company sees an excellent opportunity to carve out a greater niche in the competitive online gifts market. But the key to winning new customers and retaining more repeat business is better customer service. To obtain better customer service, Fruit Company is designing and implementing a new order management and fulfillment system. The new system will require less employee training and help with expediting order management. “With the new system we can do a better job of picking, packing and shipping our East Coast orders and our West Coast orders,” Stuewe says. “The delivery companies have earlier East Coast deadlines and now we can do a better job with adjusting orders and meeting schedules.”

Fruit Company also is updating its site design with new drop-down menus at the top of the page. The goal is to get customers to the specific merchandising categories they are interested in, such as fruit baskets or gift towers. “We’ve been working on the systems upgrades for about one year,” Stuewe says. “It’s been worth the effort and we will reap the benefits for a long time to come.”

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