With gross order volume having tripled in three years, home goods supplier Avondale Décor began this summer using a cloud-based sourcing and order fulfillment system that is cutting costs and helping to sign up large retailers as new clients, Avondale says.
Already, the savings from more efficient connections with client retailers have made up for the cost of the technology from SPS Commerce Inc., says Avondale director of business development Robert Andris.
The SPS sourcing application provides a way for Avondale to showcase its merchandise and services—such as its flagship line of Allied Brass bathroom accessories and its ability to drop-ship online orders directly to a client retailer’s customers—to some 70,000 retailers on the SPS network. Among the new retail accounts Avondale has gained through the sourcing application are retailers J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Wayfair Inc.
“The introduction to retailers by SPS added to our company’s credibility, and closing the deal with them was so efficient and easy because SPS had already made sure our needs and requirements aligned,” Andris says. Avondale, which also sells to online retailers including Amazon.com Inc., Overstock.com Inc., Houzz Inc., and Build.com, garners 90% of its revenue from e-commerce clients and is looking to do more, he adds. Both of the two big retailer clients it’s gained are major players online. Wayfair is No. 16 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 ranking of North America’s leading online retailers and J.C. Penney is No. 33.
Avondale uses the SPS fulfillment management system to receive and process orders from many of its retailer clients. The system enables Avondale to view and manage through a web page orders retailers place online as well as through electronic data interchange, or EDI. The system automates order processing, enabling Avondale to fulfill orders without having to manually enter order data.
In automating its fulfillment services through SPS Commerce, Avondale decided to begin with Houzz, the retailer contributing its largest order volume. Within just a few weeks, Avondale saw orders being processed at the beginning of the day rather than at the end—important for a supplier that makes its products to order based on client requests—and it was able to reassign a “significant amount” of employees to work on tasks besides order processing, Andris says. “That one relationship with Houzz is probably equivalent to the cost of the software; it’s pretty much paying for itself right now.”
SPS Commerce is priced on a subscription-based model, a spokeswoman says. The fees may be monthly or annual, and they scale up depending on the amount of services used, she says, declining to provide specific costs.
All SPS Commerce tools, which cover sourcing, fulfillment, analytics, and product assortment, are hosted in the cloud, meaning they are accessible from any internet-connected device and do not require installing hardware. This is one reason Avondale was able to launch the new fulfillment services with Houzz in about six weeks, Andris says.
Also, his team didn’t have to do any of the system implementation. SPS handled all the set-up and integration work with Avondale’s existing order management and fulfillment databases, using application programming interfaces, or APIs. APIs are sets of software instructions that enable disparate software applications to automatically share data.
For Avondale, that means when its order management system plugs into the SPS system to receive a purchase order, the system is able to cross-reference all the different numbers used by Avondale’s retailer clients to process and fulfill the order. This eliminates manual data entry of orders, which reduces errors and saves manpower for other purposes, Andris says.
In addition, SPS serves as a central data location for all of Avondale’s customer management records related to order processing and fulfillment handled through the SPS system.
“That’s the beauty of SPS. They have all the information already managed for all the retailers,” Andris says. “The full extent of what I had to do was hop on a half-hour training call.”
In addition to expanding its fulfillment services to the rest of its retailer client base, and growing that base, Avondale is now working with SPS to deploy the vendor’s merchandise assortment tool. This will allow Avondale’s more than 26,000 product images and information on product attributes, which change every five to six weeks, to roll out to its retailers’ e-commerce sites automatically. “Retailers can be slow to integrate our latest digital assets, sometimes taking months,” Andris says. “With SPS Assortment, we are hoping to streamline this process for our company and our retail customers.”
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Amy Dusto is a Chicago-based freelance writer.Favorite