A Small Business Faces Big Business Challenges
After nearly 30 years in business, Glass Dimensions was a textbook example of how operating as a small, family-owned enterprise had its pros and cons. On one hand, the attention to detail and quality – each product Glass Dimensions makes, from its glass oil candles and lamps to its glass ornaments and vases, is handcrafted – helped build strong relationships with the New England gift shops that sold its products. On the other hand, a changing retail environment meant that a small business like Glass Dimensions needed the resources of a big business if it was to operate efficiently and exploit new sales channels like the Internet.
By 2003, it was painfully clear to Dave Perkins – who with his brother Darrell helps to run the business their father, also named Dave, founded in the family basement in 1975 – that those big business resources were not in place. “We needed better reporting, better integration, and CRM and ERP features that could be tied into Web commerce,” says Perkins. “In fact, we needed better everything if we were to continue operating with any hope of growing our business.”
Searching for Web Commerce Software, and More
The system Glass Dimensions had installed back in 1994, Great Plains, was showing its age. “We basically stretched it as far as we could take it,” says Perkins. An upgrade to Great Plains was considered, but Perkins says the software would have cost $34,000 and “still lacked a lot of functionality.” Glass Dimensions wanted to use the Web to start its own direct sales channel, and for this, Perkins says, integration was key. “It wasn’t an option. It was something that we really needed.”
The search for an integrated solution – a package that could tie Web commerce with marketing and back-end accounting – led Perkins to NetSuite. “What NetSuite offered us was something that has been in the hands of big businesses for some time, the ability to tie together systems and boost efficiency.”
NetSuite Enables Personalized Service and Increased Automation
By powering the Glass Dimensions Web site – launched in the spring of 2003 – and integrating order processing with fulfillment and marketing, NetSuite enabled the Perkins family to grow their business through new, personalized services that previously had not been possible to provide.
“It’s never been efficient to offer customized sales, such as engravings, to retail stores, but NetSuite lets us offer them directly to customers, who can come to our site and key in the names and dates for anniversaries and other occasions themselves,” says Perkins. “That’s efficient because it is the customer inputting the information, which then goes right into our fulfillment center to process the order. At our level of manpower – which varies between 10 and 15 people, depending on the season – we would never be able to offer personalized gifts without NetSuite’s seamless integration.”
For small businesses like Glass Dimensions, efficiency has always hinged on the ability to automate as much of the sales process as possible. “With NetSuite, you don’t have separate ecommerce and accounting systems, so there’s no need to key in data over and over,” says Perkins. But storing data is just one piece of the puzzle. Glass Dimensions also uses NetSuite to sift through that data to generate reports – and profits. “We can identify which customers are returning frequently and then enroll them in our Collectors Club program, providing them discounts and monthly emails so they will keep coming back,” says Perkins.
NetSuite’s integration and automation has enabled Glass Dimensions to grow its business while sticking true to the values that helped make its business. “We’re able to offer very personalized service because of the efficiencies we’ve gained,” says Perkins. “You look at NetSuite and it’s as plain as day: We simply wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing without it.”
Glass Dimensions Expands to New Markets
Since implementing NetSuite less than two years ago, Glass Dimensions has been able to bring its established local business to a growing worldwide audience. A new direct sales channel – powered by NetSuite’s ecommerce platform – now accounts for 25 percent of sales, or roughly 600 orders each month. And new services, like custom engraving, have allowed Glass Dimensions to venture into markets never before possible.
“While we still sell our products to local gift shops, we can now sell them directly to consumers, as well,” says Dave Perkins, the director of IT. “The retail landscape has changed over the last five years, and the efficiencies NetSuite brings have made it possible to offer personalized services that have helped us out a great deal. For a small business that needs the integration and automation of a big business, NetSuite is really a no-brainer.”