April 16, 2013, 1:45 PM

How apparel retailer Pacific Sunwear gets more out of its vendors

An IRCE speaker gives tips about saving money during technology upgrades.

Lead Photo

Mondy Beller

When teen apparel retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. moved to a new e-commerce platform last year, it had to evaluate what it wanted to keep from its previous platform. The move gave the web merchant  a chance to closely review  its web site technologies and the vendors who provided them—a process that in some cases led to better prices—says Mondy Beller, vice president of e-commerce.

Beller will talk about that process during her presentation entitled “How to make vendors work harder for your business” at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in Chicago June 5.

Pacific Sunwear didn’t fire all its vendors. “But we also ended up changing out a lot of our other vendors where it made sense,” she says. For example, Demandware Inc., the provider of Pacific Sunwear’s new e-commerce platform, has integrated its software with that of a variety of vendors, and going with one of those vendors could mean less work and cost for Pacific Sunwear. When a Pacific Sunwear vendor didn’t easily mesh with Demandware, Beller had to determine whether it was worth the additional cost of working with that company.

That sent Beller into a series of negotiations with old and new vendors, and such talks never end. For instance, Pacific Sunwear is considering replacing its point-of-sale and order fulfillment systems, and also adding its first customer relationship management system, Beller says.

No matter the vendor relationship, Beller uses a step-by-step process to make sure Pacific Sunwear gets the most out of the dollars it spends with each technology provider. Her research includes updating the e-retailer’s technology needs and specifications, writing requests for proposals and building an internal team that can best judge the vendor tools offered. That all happens before Beller starts negotiating prices. “You have to become as educated as possible—education and preparation is key,” she says.

When dealing with vendors, Beller never takes the first offer. “When you narrow down the finalists you can play them off each other to get better pricing and services,” she says. “Maybe they can’t come down in pricing, but they can provide at no cost an ongoing account manager.”

During her presentation, Beller will share more insights about how she navigates vendor negotiations. She says she hopes attendees can use her guidance to gain better deals for their businesses.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Beller to speak because of her experience overseeing all aspects of digital commerce and marketing for desktop, mobile and tablet for Pacific Sunwear, and for her experience at other online businesses including Shoes.com, Ticketmaster and Shop.com.

Pacific Sunwear is No. 265 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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