SaltWorks recently shook up its online business.
The distributor of 110 types of bath, refined and mineral salts generated $20 million in business-to-business e-commerce revenue last year, and projects a 25% increase this year, CEO Mark Zoske said in an interview last week at the 2016 Magento Imagine conference in Las Vegas.
Driving growth is a new e-commerce site outfitted with several features that cater to business customers, including personalized pricing and individualized inventory. In addition, the site was built with responsive design, which automatically adapts the layout of an e-commerce site to the size of a shopper’s screen, including smartphones and tablets as well as PCs.
This is handy for a range of business customers, particularly those who want to place an order while away from their desk, Zoske told conference attendees during a presentation on SaltWorks’ e-commerce operations. For example, this makes ordering easier for Whole Foods Market grocery store managers who want to restock their salt supply while checking store shelves, and buyers who want to place an order for SaltWorks products while at a trade show.
Since launching the responsive site in late February, about 25% of visitors on SeaSalt.com/Wholesale now visit via a mobile phone or tablet, Zoske says. That amounts to 35,417 monthly unique visitors arriving at SeaSalt.com/Wholesale from a mobile device, out of an average monthly total of 141,667 unique visitors, Zoske said. Before the site relaunched, the distributor received less than 5% of its monthly unique visitors from mobile or tablet devices, Zoske says.
“When the decision makers are in their Whole Foods store or at a restaurant, instead of faxing in an order later, they can place an order right there on the spot,” he said. “We also have a lot of large customers that resell our product to big box stores. They want to check on an order status while with a customer. Now they can check orders, re-order or look at the whole supply status of their account on a mobile device.”
Many mobile orders also come from business customers at trade shows. Previously, SaltWorks would see interest from prospective customers at shows, but have no way to immediately follow up with them. This lengthened the time it took to obtain an order from some customers and, in some cases, led to missed opportunities. “Kraft Foods is a bigger customer, and their sales cycle is extremely long,” Zoske said. “Now they can jump on our site—it’s mobile-friendly—register with us and we’ll send them samples. Before we would get sales at the end of the trade shows. Now we get sales as the trade show goes on.”
Business buyers can apply online for a wholesale account through the new site. Previously, interested businesses had to email, call a customer service rep or fax in their applications. Since deploying the online application—which automatically changes content as prospective clients fill it out—the number of businesses applying online for a SaltWorks wholesale account has jumped to about 20 per day, up from three, Zoske said.
Applications that differentiate business clients’ size and potential for salt spend also help SaltWorks prioritize applications from larger clients that may bring a greater return. “It allows us to determine if someone is a big fish or not,” Zoske said. “If someone is a larger customer, we’ll have a sales or customer service rep immediately handle the application, because it could be a big order.”
The company, which began selling online in 2002, says about 50% of its total revenue is processed online at SeaSalt.com/Wholesale. In February 2014 developers from web design and development firm Gorilla Group began building the new site, and the new SeaSalt.com/Wholesale launched in late February 2016 on Magento Enterprise technology from Magento Inc.
The previous site was built in-house in 2002 and hadn’t been updated since. “There were no plug-ins for it, and anytime anyone else worked on it they couldn’t figure it out. It got annoying,” Zoske said. “We tried to make it into a B2B site, but there was no way to accommodate purchase orders, and other things food manufacturers or grocery stores need.”
SaltWorks worked with Gorilla Group to integrate the new e-commerce site with its Microsoft Dynamics GP enterprise resource planning, or ERP system, which SaltWorks uses to manage its inventory levels, financial records and a customer activity.
The annual fee for Magento Enterprise software starts at about $18,000.
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