Safari Micro Sees 22% Increase in Sales; 10X Growth in Unassisted Web-Based Orders with ChannelOnline™
Overview: Innovative Computing Systems (ICS) is a full-service systems integrator upporting the technology needs of California's legal community since 1988. ICS sells and integrates technology for legal systems, networking, and telecommunications, as well as providing consulting, security and product support services.
Challenge: To compete in an increasingly crowded market for computer hardware sales to the U.S. education sector, Safari Micro needed a robust online storefront and capabilities that would further distinguish the company from manufacturers' direct sales efforts and purely Web-based resellers.
Solution: ChannelOnline powers Safari Micro's robust e-commerce site and fuels account representatives' responsiveness with rich product information and comparison tools that ensure speedy access to the right product for the customer's needs, as well as customer-specific pricing that complements superior service and reinforces customer relationships. The company experienced a 22% year-over-year increase in sales and ten-fold increase in unassisted Web orders with ChannelOnline.
Since 1997, technology reseller Safari Micro has served the nation's education sector by guiding customers through a jungle of hardware and accessories and providing service and support.
This commitment helped Safari Micro get by in a fiercely competitive market crowded with manufacturers' direct sales efforts and the price-based threat of online resellers targeting education customers with bare-bones, product-only offers. But by partnering with CNET Content Solutions, Safari Micro has nurtured its customer service-oriented culture into a competitive advantage, enhancing strong customer relationships with flexible self-service options through an online sales channel enriched with detailed product information and even special customer-specific online pricing and promotions.
Sales automation ensures survival of the fittest
"Our company looks a lot different today than it did in mid-2003," says Erol Mustafa, president of Safari Micro. "A search of our Web site provides incredible product detail and powerful tools for comparison shopping, availability and more. Our sales and account representatives have that wealth of information at their fingertips as well-so even the way we way we serve our customers has improved."
Prior to implementing CNET Content Solutions's ChannelOnline™ solution, Safari Micro sales and account personnel used a software application purpose-built for quote generation and serviced customers and prospects solely by phone and fax. The reseller's purchasing and accounting departments also used point solutions specific to their functions. Because none of these systems were integrated, purchasing agents struggled with complex orders for products from multiple distributors-putting pressure on Safari Micro's commitment to and reputation for responsiveness.
When the quote application was discontinued, Safari Micro executives recognized the need-and the opportunity-to do more, and they decided to replace the software with a full-fledged sales automation solution. Despite initial concerns about functionality and cost, the company included hosted solutions in their search for a sales automation package. Safari Micro's selection criteria included solution cost, features, and-significantly-ease of use: account representatives' responsiveness to customers, and therefore, Safari Micro's business, depends on speed and product information.
According to Mustafa, "It's not unusual for an account manager to process 25 quotes or orders in a day with multiple custom line items from several different distributors on each order." Safari Micro sought a solution that would bring together all the data from all the distributors with which the company works and provide that information in a format that would streamline generation of quotes and orders. "When we looked at other products during our evaluation period, we found that the time it took to create a quote was shorter with ChannelOnline," says Mustafa. "We also found that the rich content data that ChannelOnline offered was much better than the competition."
CNET Content Solutions delivers a comprehensive work environment with its ChannelOnline solution
Today, ChannelOnline serves as the primary work environment for sales and finance. Sales personnel use ChannelOnline to generate quotes, enter orders, check real-time availability of items from multiple distributors, compare product data and make sound recommendations to customers. For purchasing agents, ChannelOnline handles everything from order entry to submission of purchase orders.
The accounting department relies on ChannelOnline to prepare order data for export into the accounting system, while management gains insight into daily productivity, revenue and profit for quotes as well as orders. And, customers can take advantage of self-service options that give them the flexibility to place orders or research and compare products from multiple technology manufacturers at their convenience.
The result: a ten-fold increase in unassisted Web orders
The CNET Content Solutions partnership and ChannelOnline solution have paid off significantly for Safari Micro. In just one year, Safari Micro has seen a 22% year-over-year increase in sales-without increasing the number of salespeople-and a ten-fold increase alone in unassisted, Web-based orders. Mustafa attributes this gain to the convenience, functionality and ease of use the ChannelOnline-powered storefront has to offer: "Our Web site is markedly stronger in its appeal to customers who want to search, purchase and track their orders online. In addition to an increase in revenues, the self-service enabled by ChannelOnline has reduced the number of customer service calls we receive."
He adds, "From quote to order, to warehouse to export into our accounting system, ChannelOnline gives us a sales cycle automation solution that has helped to significantly streamline the way we do business."
As a partner, CNET Content Solutions also made a significant impression on Safari Micro and Mustafa, providing support on a par with the service the reseller strives to give its own customers. "The CNET Content SolutionsOnline team really impressed us with care and attention that continues even a year since our deployment was completed," says Mustafa.
A future focused on responsiveness and efficiency
With the introduction of new enhancements to ChannelOnline, Mustafa expects Safari Micro will look to streamline operations in ways that strengthen customer relationships. From integrated back-office capabilities to new tools, new distributor partnerships and customer interface enhancements, Safari Micro plans to take advantage of features and functions that will speed responsiveness to customers and offer greater flexibility to meet their needs.
About Safari Micro
Safari Micro is a one-stop resource for the computing needs of the U.S. education market, distinguished by the guidance of highly trained, responsive account managers and technically knowledgeable staff who serve as an extension of the IT or purchasing department. Safari Micro's commitment to helping education customers find the right solution includes a specialization in sourcing hard-to-find products and systems integration. For more information on Safari Micro, visit www.safarimicro.com