Posted by Ranga Bodla, Wholesale Distribution Industry Lead, NetSuite
The natural products industry is on a strong growth curve, and many once-small natural products businesses find themselves with big-business IT issues. That was the situation with Eco-Bags and, Evolving Nutrition, both of which are dedicated to providing environmentally responsible, all-natural products to their customers and enjoying a loyal, growing customer base in return. To keep pace with their customers’ needs, both companies needed the features of an ERP application, but didn’t have the time or resources to implement an in-house ERP system. Fortunately, they discovered that cloud-based ERP can work just as well for small but growing companies as it can for big businesses.
Here’s how NetSuite’s cloud ERP helped Eco-Bags Products and Evolving Nutrition grow:
If you have a stash of reusable shopping bags, it’s likely that Eco-Bags Products, based in Ossining, NY, provided them. An early pioneer in the reusable cloth bag market, the company started out in 1989 pedaling European-style string bags and working to convince shoppers to stop using plastic throw-away bags that clog up lakes and landfills. It found a receptive market for their bags and, over the years, added new types made by other manufacturers around the world, all made under the fair trade and labor practices.
Fast forward 26 years later and Eco-Bags is selling everything from cloth lunch bags and string produce bags to woven wicker baskets to thousands of retail outlets such asWhole Foods and Walgreens, as well as to consumers on its ecommerce site.
It got a major boost to its growth potential in 2004, when it moved to NetSuite’s integrated cloud platform. Prior to that, Eco-Bags was struggling with a manual sales and ordering system. An incompatibility between QuickBooks and a fulfillment partner’s ordering application was also causing problems. Eco-Bags realized that it needed to adopt a big business strategy for its IT systems if it wanted to keep growing.
After implementing NetSuite, sales have risen exponentially—both its consumer and B2B sales, as well as a custom printed bag business for corporate customers. It now has four warehouses in the U.S. to ship products to B2B customers in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and uses electronic data exchange (from NetSuite partner B2B Gateway) to automate its transactions with its largest clients.
With ecommerce, fulfilment, CRM, inventory and ERP integrated in one platform, individual consumers can now buy bags online, and Eco-Bags’ retail and wholesale customers enjoy faster ordering -- with no hiccups in the fulfilment or order management process.
“We needed integration and wanted it all in one package that we could use from wherever we are in the world,” explained Eco-Bags CEO Sharon Rowe.
Evolving Nutrition, which sells nutraceuticals to healthcare practitioners, also reached a point in its growth curve when it needed an integrated CRM, inventory, order management and ecommerce platform in order to meet the demands of customers.
Within two years of implementing the NetSuite cloud platform, Evolving Nutrition expanded its B2B customer base to over 2,000 healthcare offices. The biggest benefit came with the integration and centralization of all customer and order information in one place on the cloud, making it accessible to any sales rep, executive or customer service agent who needs to check the status of an order or resolve a problem. That has improved the company’s B2B customer service significantly.
“It’s not unusual for a customer to call me and ask about their order, or a salesperson on the road with a customer that needs to look up inventory, provide order status, and resolve an issue,” explained Amanda Abbinanti, director of business development for Evolving Nutrition.
Both Evolving Nutrition and Eco-Bags Products have benefited from having a real-time, 360-degree view of all data and business processes. It’s enabled them to manage their interactions directly with consumers, other businesses and trading partners.
The integration of all processes from CRM and ecommerce to inventory and shipping also helped them expand their direct-to-consumer sales while also offering wholesale customers a convenient online B2B purchasing channel.
“The transparency of the system allows us to track the complete process of an order - from the point the order is physically taken until the package has been delivered to our client's office, allowing us to offer supreme customer service,” said Abbinanti. “With NetSuite, our company has been able to grow from a small garage operation to now residing in a warehouse and office space, while growing our sales over 100 percent in the first two years.”
If you’d like to learn more about the natural products industry and how they’re growing on NetSuite, visit the annual Natural Products Expo West, March 9-13, 2016, where NetSuite will co-hosting a Happy Hour with Navitas Naturals. You’ll see companies making everything from all-natural cosmetics and biodegradable boxes to vegan desserts, protein bars and herbal supplements.