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RST Brands Inc., a designer and manufacturer of furniture and storage systems, is growing sales through a mix of e-commerce, electronic data interchange and drop-shipping services.

The Salt Lake City-based company sells directly to interior designers and other business as well as to consumers. It also works with major retailers by accepting orders that interior designers and other businesses as well as consumers place online, and drop-shipping its products to job sites or to consumers’ homes.

RST has stepped up its own direct online sales to businesses and consumers since deploying new e-commerce technology more than a year ago for its two e-commerce sites, RSTBrands.com, its online furniture store, and Flowwall.com, its online store for selling storage systems designed for organizing tools and other things in garages.

RST relaunched both of those sites in December 2013 on SuiteCommerce Advanced, the latest version of e-commerce software from NetSuite Inc. Since then, sales on RSTBrands.com are up 80%, and sales on Flowwall.com are up 50%, Bill Apgood, RST’s chief financial and operating officer, said in an interview this week at SuiteWorld, NetSuite’s annual user’s conference.

Matt Grimm, RST’s director of e-commerce, said key features of the new software include:

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• Responsive web design, which makes web site content render properly on mobile devices as well as desktop and laptops;

• Faceted site search through Solr site search technology, which comes loaded on SuiteCommerce Advanced and lets site visitors choose from among multiple versions of a searched-for product. A search on RSTBrands.com for a “sofa,” for example, produces a list in the site search window of eight versions of sofas, each in a different style and color;

• A “My Account” section that lets customers track order status and check other information regarding their purchases.

The new site search feature has helped to push up conversion rates by about 30%, while the overall site bounce rate—or the rate at which customers leave the site after visiting a single page—has decreased about 20%, Grimm said.

RST is also planning to build within two years a separate business-to-business e-commerce portal, where retailers, interior designers and other business buyers will be able to see personalized contract pricing as well as use other B2B features for managing their online purchasing, Apgood says.

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RST also is experimenting in new ways to help retailers display and sell its products in their stores as well as through their retail e-commerce sites. In Costco Wholesale Corp. stores, for example, it has been testing a program that lets Costco feature a single furniture set in a store. But the set is only for display; to make a purchase, customers are instructed to log onto a product category page on Costco.com.

Once a consumer logs onto the site, however, she sees the furniture set featured in the in-store display as well as several other versions of similar furniture. It’s a way of helping retailers as well as RST offer a longer tail of products through stores, Apgood says. RST is managing a similar program with stores operated by Sears Canada.

For sales of RST’s products placed online through RST’s retail partners, including Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., The Home Depot Inc. and Wayfair.com as well as Costco.com, RST uses an Internet-based EDI system integrated with its NetSuite enterprise resource planning system for managing inventory and financial records. As customers click to purchase RST’s products on these merchants’ web sites, the order gets routed as an EDI transaction through B2B Gateway, a cloud-based EDI service for exchanging purchase orders, invoices and other business documents, to CommerceHub, an online service that integrates such electronic data with the ERP systems of NetSuite and other companies.

With the orders automatically entered into RST’s ERP system, RST then routes them to one of its five warehouses—two in the United States, two in Canada, and one in the United Kingdom—to drop-ship the ordered products to customers.

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow B2BecNews editor Paul Demery on Twitter @pdemery.

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