Ibex Outdoor Clothing: Seamless Wool, Seamless Commerce

Posted by Branden Jenkins, General Manager of Retail

The merino wool fibers used in outdoor apparel from Ibex Outdoor Clothing are about one-third the diameter of a human hair. When woven into clothing, merino wool fibers come together in a seamless fabric that’s exceptionally soft, lightweight and comfortable.

Likewise, the omnichannel commerce experience that Ibex offers its avid and fast-growing customer base is virtually as seamless. Based in White River Junction, Vt., Ibex has transformed its financial and operational performance with a customer-centric focus across the end-to-end value chain.

Ibex is a leading example of the dramatic gains that retailers can achieve with a single cloud platform that seamlessly connects every step of the business—B2C and B2B ecommerce, POS, order management, merchandising, marketing, inventory, financials and customer service.

Since upgrading to NetSuite from a custom-built webstore and an on-premise Sage MAS 200 ERP system, Ibex has seen its order volume soar 82%. It’s improved warehouse efficiency 300% without adding personnel, grown revenue 37% and is saving nearly $150,000 a year in IT costs.

At the same time, Ibex is delivering to customers a superior omnichannel experience, with purchasing through its SuiteCommerce-based www.ibex.com website, nearly 500 retail distributors in North America and two Ibex brick-and-mortar stores in Boston and Seattle that run the NetSuite's point-of-sale (POS) system.

“NetSuite is our backbone. Once we went to NetSuite, our efficiency skyrocketed so that we could do many things that were too costly before and be more nimble in serving customers,” said William Hill, CFO of the mid-size company. “The scalability of NetSuite has been tremendous and a huge help in enabling us to reach our growth levels.”

An ‘incredible growth trajectory’

The industry has taken notice. In its February 2014 issue, Integrated Solutions for Retailers spotlighted Ibex’s transformation as its cover story, reporting that: “The incredible growth trajectory Ibex is experiencing is proof positive that investing in the customer experience and fulfillment-enabling tools—backed by an incredible product—pays big dividends.”

Some of those dividends are seen in ecommerce sales, accounting for about half of company revenue. Since implementing SuiteCommerce, Ibex has seen conversions increase 20%, with a 24% increase in customer visits and a 16% reduction in customers who “bounce” after viewing a single page. Meanwhile, optimization for mobile devices has proven valuable in engaging smartphone and tablet users.

On the back end, Ibex has gained critical efficiencies not possible with its previous systems. The company’s homegrown website didn’t connect to the Sage ERP platform, requiring two separate databases and complications in delivering the brand experience that customers expect. In addition, Ibex processed each order manually from its Vermont warehouse, resulting in delays and the risk of error.

Today, NetSuite SuiteCommerce and POS connect natively to back-end financials and inventory, while the OzLINK fulfillment solution from NetSuite partner Oz Development is in place at the warehouse. Ibex is saving five hours a day processing direct-to-consumer orders, while wholesale order processing time has been slashed from three hours to 10 minutes.

That scalability has proven vital as order volumes surged. “We couldn’t have pushed this volume of business through our previous dis-integrated ecommerce and ERP platforms without adding a whole lot of manpower,” Hill said.

Single view of cross-channel activity

Besides fulfilling orders faster, Ibex has new flexibility to meet customer demand. For instance, if an Ibex retail store is out of a product, NetSuite lets a store associate readily check inventory and place an order for delivery to the customer’s home. Cloud visibility also extends beyond inventory to give Ibex a single view of customer activity across multiple touchpoints.

“Now we’ll gain even more concrete visibility into shopping preferences and behaviors, and we’ll use that information to promote our company and serve our customers even better,” said Kelly Park, Ibex director of ecommerce. “Our mission is to create a great customer experience, and we don’t care what channel that experience occurs in. Our ERP is an enabler of that.”

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