Wittek, a manufacturer and distributor of products for golf courses and driving ranges, turns to e-commerce to reach a new generation of buyers.

Wittek Golf is doing its part to move sales of golf course and driving range equipment from printed catalogs to the web. “Our industry is old-fashioned. Golf course managers call and say they want to buy what they’ve bought for the past 20 years,” says Alex Novikov, Wittek’s I.T. manager.

Wittek manufactures and distributes products such as ball-cleaning and vending machines, flags, benches and ball-picking equipment. The company sells directly to golf courses as well as through distributors, says Rajeev Sharma, director of marketing.

It only recently drove into e-commerce, but sees the online channel as important to growth, Sharma says.

Elk Grove, Ill.-based Wittek has been in the golf supply business since 1946. After it was acquired in 2015 by driving range equipment manufacturer P&W Golf Supply Co., Wittek launched a website that listed equipment and supplies for miniature golf courses. But businesses couldn’t place orders on the new site, Novikov says. The sales process was labor-intensive, requiring company sales reps to manually enter emailed orders.

Although Wittek has a long history of selling through a catalog, sales reps and Professional Golf Association trade shows, company managers knew that e-commerce was an untapped sales channel. In the past sales were dominated by faxes and phone calls, Sharma says, “but, with automation and online ordering. Most golf course pros are old-fashioned, but as young people come in, the business is changing and we are trying to make it easier to order.”

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We’re trying to change the brand image and make it look more modern.
Rajeev Sharma, director of marketing
Wittek Golf

Since September customers have been able to buy online at Wittek.com, which was built on the NetSuite SuiteCommerce Advanced e-commerce platform from Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit of software giant Oracle Corp. Wittek plans to arm its 35-person sales force with mobile devices so that they can tap into the e-commerce platform to place orders and check order status.

Sharma declines to disclose the company’s revenue but says 2016 web sales accounted for only 2-3% of revenue. The aim is to increase the share from e-commerce to 15-20%. “The good part is if revenue increases, profit increases because there aren’t the extra expenses for orders that come in by phone,” Sharma says. “Plus, we tend to give more discounts on phone orders.”

Since the new site went live Wittek has seen some traffic and conversion increases, Sharma says, without getting into specific numbers. The new e-commerce platform enables him to make product changes himself, without input from a programmer. Wittek has about 2,300 SKUs on its website and is adding more.

Wittek declined to disclose the cost of the cloud-based e-commerce technology, but Novikov, who is the company NetSuite administrator, notes it meshes effectively with the company’s enterprise resource planning application, also from NetSuite.

The new website helps promote the Wittek brand, Sharma says. “We are also a manufacturer and we make more than half of our product,” he says. “People are aware of our brand and that gives us an edge. But we have to keep ahead to keep the edge.”

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