April 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

With new web technology, small pet-supplies retailer breaks out with sales

After switching from an e-commerce platform developed in house with open-source technology to a customized platform from Infopia, web-only retailer Value Pet Supplies grew more than eightfold to $2.1 million last year, president Zachary Piech says.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

After switching from an e-commerce platform developed in house with open-source technology to a customized platform from Infopia, sales at web-only retailer Value Pet Supplies grew more than eightfold to $2.1 million last year, president Zachary Piech says.

Value Pet Supplies, which was founded in early 2007 and operates on the web at ValuePetSupplies.com, spent its first several months on an open-source platform. But most of its sales went through a separate listing on eBay.com, Piech says.

In October 2007, the retailer relaunched its site on an e-commerce platform from Infopia Inc., a company that caters to smaller online retailers. Within the first few months on the Infopia platform, sales rose from about $20,000 to more than $200,000 per month, Piech says. Sales for all of 2008 were $2.1 million, up from about $250,000 in 2007, he adds.

Part of the advantage of operating on the Infopia platform, Piech says, is its pre-integration with third-party applications that he has also deployed to improve how Value Pet Supplies interacts with customers and manages its orders and inventory.

The retailer processes customer orders, including some that still come from eBay as well as other third-party sites, through Infopia’s order management system. That system integrates with Interapptive Inc.’s ShipWorks order processing system to route shipping labels to the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx Corp. and UPS.

It has also deployed T-HUB, an online system from Atandra Systems Inc., which links Infopia’s order management system with the retailer’s QuickBooks financial management software for reconciling orders against records of purchased inventory. QuickBooks is a product of Intuit Inc.

In addition, the retailer this month is deploying Software Link’s self-hosting platform, myownasp.com, to make its QuickBooks application available to all employees through a web browser.

The retailer has also provided remote access to its customer relationship management system. It has deployed Salesforce.com as a customer relationship management tool integrated with the Infopia platform. The Salesforce application also integrates through the Infopia platform with Vertical Response for sending marketing e-mail messages.

Piech said he could have sought similar functionality through an all-in-one e-commerce platform, but at a much higher cost.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel with a lot of custom development, but I can’t imagine another system giving us what we’re getting,” he says, adding that the Infopia platform arrangement has proved to provide a near-term return on investment.

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