Tools retailer deploys SaaS to handle sales boost


Tools and garden products retailer Just Off Base has revealed how a change in technology has helped it grow five-fold in the face of online competition from household names like Homebase and B&Q.

The Suffolk-based company, which began trading online in 2003, has moved away from a custom-developed web site and a mixture of accounts and order management applications to software-as-a-service (SaaS) business suite and ecommerce platform NetSuite.

While the increase in sales is not directly down to the switch to NetSuite, Just Off Base said it was key to enabling the company to cope with the growth in trade and with managing its customer base.

"I think the sales growth is down to a number of factors, but moving to NetSuite has enabled us handle the uplift in business without the need to hire extra admin staff," said Tim James-Parker, one of the firm's partners.

"We used to have an in-house developed, database driven web site that was difficult to integrate with our accounting, CRM and stock control systems, and very hard to extract data from for reports," he added.

The most significant change in the business model for the company has been the shift to a fully automated electronic reordering relationship with its suppliers. Using a custom add-on, the company is able to generate XML feeds and emails straight to suppliers to restock and to fulfil customer orders directly.

"As well as automating our on-going communications with suppliers, we also outsource our inbound call handling. The staff there are now able to take orders and deal with customer queries from within the same application environment we use, said James-Parker.

The company has plans to expand further using its current SaaS deployment as a base for handling even more ecommerce traffic and customer growth.