Raleigh

Raleigh's IT department boosts company profits


Case Study Summary

Challenge

With competitors rolling out web-based ordering systems and customers asking for a web-based ordering option, Raleigh UK needed a solution quickly. However, their 3 person IT staff had neither the time nor the resources for a project of this size.

Solution

After ruling out a few generic, off-the-shelf software solutions, they found the answer in the web application development platform, m-Power. Using m-Power, they built a custom extranet that fulfilled every requirement, only doing it faster and cheaper than every other generic, off-the-shelf option.

Value

Customers loved the new extranet, Raleigh operated more efficiently, and company profitability rose as a direct result of their new extranet.


Full Case Study

Overview

Founded in 1890, Raleigh Bicycles began as a small bicycle company on Raleigh Street in Nottingham, UK. Today, Raleigh is one of the most recognizable bicycle brands in the world, operating in over 140 countries. Raleigh's UK branch (which still operates in Nottingham) sells and distributes bicycles along with a wide range of cycling accessories to bicycle dealers across the UK.

Challenge

Raleigh UK took in most sales through their 14-person call center, but a few of their competitors were rolling out web-based ordering systems. Some of Raleigh's dealers noticed the competition's new ordering systems and expressed frustration to Raleigh over their lack of a web-based ordering option.

Raleigh knew they needed to give their dealers a way to place orders via the web, and they needed it quickly. However, Raleigh also prides themselves in customer service, and viewed this as an opportunity to go above and beyond the competition. Rather than a basic web-based ordering system, they wanted a full extranet—a place where dealers could not only place orders, but also access important account information such as invoices, statements, and open orders.

However, they weren't going to rush through the project just to get a solution out as quickly as possible—they wanted to do it right. That meant one thing: The extranet must be real-time. Anything less than a real-time solution opened the door to ordering problems, such as dealers purchasing items that were out of stock. According to Barrie Timson, Raleigh's Business Systems Manager, a real-time solution was crucial: "Our product portfolio is so large and fast moving, our customers need to be confident that the data we present to them is accurate."

But, they had two problems:

  1. They had just implemented a new ERP system and were still getting familiar with it.
  2. Their 3-person IT department didn't have the time to deliver such an involved system quickly.

They needed more than software. They needed a partner with experience building real-time extranets over their ERP and database. They needed a company that not only offered a software solution, but could also help them design and build it.

Solution

"It was clear that m-Power offered Raleigh the right tool at the right price backed up by considerable experience."

Finding one solution that fit every requirement proved difficult. Most solutions weren't real time, and were instantly eliminated from consideration. Other solutions, according to Barrie, "Were ridiculously expensive." Still others were too difficult or too time consuming for their staff to handle.

Then, they discovered m-Power, a web application development platform (created by michaels, ross & cole (mrc)) used to create all types of web applications. It allowed for fast development of a real-time extranet and met all of their requirements. Additionally, mrc's UK staff had plenty of development experience. "It was clear that m-Power offered Raleigh the right tool at the right price backed up by considerable experience," said Timson.

The best part: m-Power was not only cheaper than all the other options, it also let them create a custom solution faster than it would've taken to deploy a generic, off-the-shelf solution.

This page on the extranet lets dealers easily order spare parts

Value

With help from m-Power and Adam Flynn of mrc-UK, the entire project—from planning to building to finally rolling out their new real-time extranet—took only 3 months. But, the real benefits came after they rolled out the new extranet. First of all, their customers loved it. In fact, 60% of all sales now go through the extranet. Secondly, the new extranet helped Raleigh in a few unforeseen ways:

Increased efficiency

Since Raleigh's dealers had access to everything they needed via the extranet, calls into Raleigh's call center declined sharply. However, where most companies would've cut staff, Raleigh saw an opportunity. They re-assigned much of their call center staff to more pro-active roles. Now, instead of answering customer questions and taking orders, they focus on selling.

Increased Profits

Not only did more dealers place orders online, but overall sales dramatically increased once they released the new extranet. Why the increase? While it's hard to say for sure, there are a range of potential reasons:

  • Ease of use: One of the most basic elements of selling is, "Make it easy for the customer to buy." In creating the extranet, Raleigh did just that--their dealers now have an easier and faster purchasing option.
  • 24/7 ordering capabilities: In the past, dealers could only place orders during business hours. Now they can place orders at any time.
  • Re-assigned staff: Much of the sales staff now focuses on selling rather than fielding questions and taking orders. This boost to the sales staff drives revenue up even further.
  • Exclusive deals: Some of Raleigh's suppliers noticed the new market-leading extranet and offered to give Raleigh exclusive promotions. These special promotions benefit everyone: Raleigh can offer deals not found anywhere else, their suppliers can run promotions on a market-leading site, and Raleigh's dealers save money on their purchases.

Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: According to Timson, the new extranet "Has contributed significantly to company profitability."

Partnership

Raleigh sees their great relationship with mrc as a critical aspect to the story. In mrc, they have a partner that understands both their business needs and web application development. According to Barrie, this relationship is "a great advantage when you compare to the outsourcing to different time zones we now 'enjoy' with other suppliers."

Screenshot of the web-based order entry area of the extranet

Future

Raleigh is quite happy with m-Power and their extranet, but they have some plans in the future as well. Barrie plans on updating or revamping the extranet every so often so it doesn't begin to look stale or outdated. Thankfully, m-Power's flexibility allows for easy updating, ensuring that their extranet will grow and change with the business. Additionally, Raleigh plans on using m-Power's data analysis capabilities in the future as well.

All in all, Raleigh are thrilled with the results. Their choice of m-Power not only gave them the web-ordering capabilities they needed, it also made them more efficient and improved company profitability.

To learn more about Raleigh, you can visit their Web site at: http://www.raleigh.co.uk/

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