IBM client web sales rose 12.1% last weekend, while ChannelAdvisor reports 13.9% growth in sales last week for merchants on Amazon.
Wholesaler PAG Leisurewear says it has figured out how to give online business buyers the information they need—like number of items per case and the availability of goods by fabric weight and percentage of cotton—while also making it easy to shop by product image and price in a way that appeals to both businesses and individual consumers.
In the competitive apparel business, wholesaler PAG Leisurewear is facing increasing pressures to instantly give its retailer customers the information they need to make buying decisions and plan promotions, says PAG managing partner Michael Hanreck. That’s why PAG, which specializes in selling casual apparel like T-shirts, sweatshirts and running shorts, upgraded its e-commerce platform recently to provide stronger integration between its customer-facing web site and its back-end software for managing inventory, accounting and other business operations, he says.
“Our industry is changing, and everyone is getting squeezed with margins,” he says. “Unless we had a way to take online orders and integrate them with our back-end software, it would be hard to compete.”
At the same time that PAG is upgrading its ability to give business customers the information they need instantly online—like number of items per case and the availability of goods by fabric weight and percentage of cotton—it’s also striving to build its business by making its e-commerce site more attractive individual consumers, Hanreck says.
PAG, which is based in London, relaunched its e-commerce site in January on NetSuite Inc.’s SuiteCommerce technology platform, which includes integrated back-end business software from NetSuite for managing inventory, accounting and other operations. PAG’s deployment of SuiteCommerce replaced an earlier version of NetSuite software that PAG first starting using in 2008.
All of NetSuite’s software is deployed under a software-as-a-service model, or SaaS, which lets a user like PAG rent the software on infrastructure hosted by NetSuite. The cost to companies to deploy NetSuite SuiteCommerce software starts at $1,999 per month for the mid-market version and $3,999 per month for the enterprise version, which can handle more product catalogs, NetSuite says.
The most noticeable benefit of the switch to SuiteCommerce, Hanreck says, are web pages that are attractive to consumers as well as business shoppers. “The biggest problem for most B2B sites is that they’re ugly and can scare people away,” he says. “We want people to realize they can go to a B2B site that can be nice to use.”
Although he says it’s too soon to provide performance metrics such as sales and conversion rates, Hanreck says PAG appears to be growing at more than the average of 15% to 20% that it has experienced over the past several years.
When arriving on the home page at PAG-Leisurewear.co.uk, shoppers see product images with starting prices and SKU numbers for a range of products among several categories. Shoppers can tailor the featured products they see by choosing to view products from one or more brands, and they can further narrow the selection to organic or recycled materials, contrasting colors and tear-away clothing tags, and other features. In addition, shoppers can then sort the featured products by such parameters as “Most likely in stock” or, in either ascending or descending order, such attributes as price, percent of cotton and fabric weight.
With such selections made, mousing over a product image—such as of a Gildan brand “Soft Style Ladies Ringspun Ladies T-shirt”—reveals that the garment is a 100% cotton, pre-shrunk jersey knit, but that it contains polyster in “heather, antique and grey” colors, comes 72 items to a case, and has a fabric weight of 160 grams per square meter.
Clicking the product image takes the customer to a detailed product page, where she can click among dozens of colors, enter the number of items she wants to order of each size, and see an instant price update for each combination of volume, color and size. (Certain colors often have different prices—for example, the price can be much higher for a T-shirt color associated with a Rolling Stones rock concert, Hanreck says.) The same page also provides details like type of seam construction and percent of each material in cotton-polyster blends; it also shows how many items are in stock, and how many can be in stock and ready to order within several days.
All of that information is presented in an uncluttered way designed to not appear as a spreadsheet that only a serious B2B purchasing manager would want to use, Hanreck says. The product detail page is also designed with mouse-over zoom that shows large, detailed images of a product in each color. And individual consumers can shop from the same pages as business customers, with all customers paying a per-item price that declines as order volume increases.
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