Today marks the start of a new online “term” for School Specialty Inc. as the distributor of supplies, furniture and learning resources launches a new website and e-commerce platform targeting consumers and institutions.
School Specialty sells directly to schools and teachers on SchoolSpecialty.com, where it also provides educational materials to healthcare organizations and other businesses. Customers can register for password-protected accounts as individuals, schools or other organizations to receive special pricing and view order status and other account information. Through its redesigned website, the company is tying together more detailed product information, easier navigation and reduced pricing on more than 30,000 products, says Nicole Eberhardy, director of e-commerce.
“Building on the company’s heritage as well as that of all brands within our portfolio, our new website provides greater access to the depth and breadth of assorted products, while simplifying the user experience,” she says. “Furthermore, the enhanced site and e-commerce platform highlight our offerings across clearly defined categories so that customers can easily find exactly what they need, when they need it.”
New website features include custom wish lists; enhanced product search with type-ahead suggestions, which offers a short list of options related to the word or phrase being typed in the search box; budget-priced “teacher favorites;” classroom decorating ideas; and quick checkout and account access.
The website runs on a new e-commerce platform from IBM Commerce and offers more direct access to School Specialty’s proprietary brands including Abilitations, which focuses on special-needs products to promote speech and language and fine motor skills; Childcraft, for early childhood development products including furniture and games; and Classroom Direct, offering school and office supplies.
For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2017, School Specialty reported total sales of $545.9 million, up 0.9% from $541.2 million in the same period of 2016. The company didn’t break out e-commerce sales in recent earnings documents but a 2015 year-end report said overall e-commerce sales accounted for about 25% of total revenue. Based on that percentage, total online sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2017 would be about $136.5 million.
In January 2013, School Specialty filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The merchant emerged from bankruptcy in June 2013 with $320 million in new financing, including $175 million from a group led by Bank of America, N.A., and SunTrust Bank, and $145 million from a second group led by Credit Suisse Securities.
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