It pays to listen to e-commerce customers. One manufacturer that learned that lesson as part of a B2B e-commerce site design is Rubie’s Costume Co. Inc., which bills itself as the world’s largest designer, manufacturer and distributor of Halloween costumes and accessories.
Rubie’s, a family-owned operation in business for more than 60 years, sells through national retail chains, toy stores, costume shops, online stores, variety stores and other specialty retailers throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America, Australia and Asia. The company also makes licensed costume collections from movies like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man Homecoming, Star Wars: Rogue One, and such characters as Batman, Kylo Ren, Black Panther, Supergirl and Princess Leia.
Rubie’s has a sprawling manufacturing and distribution base—including 12 factories in China, four in the U.S., and six warehouses in New York, Arizona and South Carolina. Until a recent website redesign, Rubie’s displayed its product catalog online, but most orders, especially from smaller retailers, were faxed in or e-mailed with specific product specifications included in attached Excel spreadsheets.
But a series of custom focus groups, revealed many retailers and a movie studio wanted more e-commerce operations with product specifications and configuration tools.
Working with Guidance, a web design and development agency, Rubie’s upgraded its B2B e-commerce site, at Rubies.com, using a technology platform from Magento. The new website was designed with a dealer portal and features that enable business buyers to track quotes, view detailed order histories, and manage their credit online. The site also lets business customers place orders online by entering SKUs, uploading database or spreadsheet files, or choosing items from pre-set requisition lists. Rubie’s sales reps can create customer orders and respond to online quote requests with tools for tracking quotes, calculating discounts and correspondence.
“Our website also didn’t allow orders to be placed online; for the longest time it was only phone and fax orders, and then e-mail,” says Rubie’s digital sales director David Beige. “We’ve had a lot of customers move over to processing orders via the web, who originally had no interest in moving away from the old format.”
Rubie’s, which carries an inventory of about 50,000 products, won’t release specific e-commerce metrics, including sales. But web sales have doubled and the average orders are higher, says head of digital Troy Barnes. “We have definitely experienced increased order velocity, site traffic and customer satisfaction,” he says. “In addition, we have found the higher amount of online orders that have been replacing the previous phone and fax orders have led to an even higher accuracy in order processing.”
The updated e-commerce site, which Rubie’s launched in the first quarter of 2017, came fully online in time for Halloween and is generating more e-commerce orders from its smaller merchants, Beige says. “Many of our customers who are small mom-and-pop-style stores have been reluctant to embrace new technology, but many of our customers have been moving from placing their reorders throughout the year via phone or fax to placing them through the website,” he says. “We have certain specific customers who are typically placing orders for restocking through the web at least once a week.”
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