Westway Electric Supply is switching on a new e-commerce site.

The distributor of electric sprockets, sockets, cords and supplies is upgrading its Magento e-commerce platform to spark increased business-to-business online sales, CEO and owner Anthony Buonocore says. He projects B2B online sales will hit $2.38 million this year, up 19% from $2 million in 2015, he says. Customers like contractors, electricians and other businesses comprise about 75% of Westway’s total number of clients. These customers can browse 250,000 SKUs at WestWayElectricSupply.com, which receives 47,000 monthly unique visitors.

The company is upgrading its current Magento e-commerce platform to Magento Community Edition 1.9.2.1, Buonocore says. He declines to specify Westway’s current version of Magento. “There is apparently a new 2.0 version that Magento has recently released, however it is a big change and it is the first release of this version,” he says. “My developers feel that there needs to be time for the bugs to be worked out by the development community. It’s not ‘ready for primetime’ yet.”

The new site will allow customers to check out more quickly and streamline the process of transmitting orders to suppliers, Buonocore says. The current WestWayElectricSupply.com, for example, only calculates shipping cost of orders under 151 pounds. Customers whose purchase weighs more than this amount must email the distributor with a list of the products ordered to get a shipping quote. The new website will allow customers whose orders weigh above 151 pounds to send an email quote with a product list automatically included from the checkout page.

The company also plans to streamline its process for entering and handling orders. That process contains extra steps because Westway does not hold much inventory in stock, instead passing the majority of orders on to suppliers to fulfill. “We’re a little atypical in that most of our orders are drop-shipped from our manufacturers,” he says. “They don’t come from our warehouses, so we don’t have to worry about inventory levels.”

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When Westway Electric receives orders now, a customer service rep checks if the product is in-stock at the manufacturer and lets the customer know that the order has been received. If there’s a backorder or lead time before shipping, Westway sends an email explaining how long it will be before it ships the product; the customer can cancel the order by email if the wait is too long. If the customer decides to proceed with the order, then a Westway rep takes the credit card charge information, creates a purchase order and sends it to the manufacturer.

This process is slowed down, however, by slow load times for data on product attributes, prices, catalog information, in-stock status and tax data, Buonocore says. The new e-commerce technology will re-index product information, so that the process runs faster and more smoothly, Buonocore says. Increased speed will allow customer service reps to handle more orders, he adds.

Developers from Inverse Paradox, LLC, a website development agency, began building the new site in October 2015, and the new WestWayElectrcSupply.com is scheduled to launch in March 2016.

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This isn’t Westway’s first upgrade. When Buonocore purchased the distribution company in 2008, Westway Electric Supply operated five e-commerce sites: ElectricSupplyOnline.com, Electric-Supplier.com, WestwayElectric.com, WestwayEShop.com and WestwayElectricSupplyOnline.com. The previous owner built a new e-commerce site from the ground up every time he wanted an updated site.

Buonocore knew he had to upgrade the sites. “The older sites were cosmetically unattractive,” he says. “Customers would call our call center to make sure we were a real company and not some scam. We needed a more professional online feel.”

In 2012, Buonocore relaunched WestwayElectricSupply.com on Magento Community Edition, a free open-source e-commerce technology platform from Magento Inc. Open-source software provides users with access to the core software code for customizing software functionality and features. Buonocore chose Magento on the advice of his developers. “One of the great things about Magento is that there’s a huge community of third parties who develop plug-ins to be used with it,” he says. “There’s a ton of developer support for the platform.”

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Magento says there are more than 300 companies skilled in deploying its software and more than 66,000 developers building extensions for Magento.

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