SaaS Brief

Electronics Manufacturer Improves Ecommerce Order Efficiency Nearly 3x with Innovative Use of Sage Intacct, Saves $200,000, and Cuts Days Off Reporting

At Sage Intacct, we love hearing how customers are using our technology in innovative ways. A great example is c3controls, a leading manufacturer of electronic controls that its B2B customers build into equipment used in a wide range of industrial applications.

c3controls, founded in 1976 and headquartered near Pittsburgh, with global locations in El Salvador and India, has inventively leveraged Sage Intacct in a revamped B2B ecommerce website that’s improving customer experiences, boosting the share of ecommerce sales, and increasing order processing efficiency by 2x to 3x.

That aligns with c3controls' "customer first" approach and a focus on personalized service, same-day shipping, payment flexibility, and other attributes that help the 150-person company compete with larger rivals.

As outlined in our c3controls customer success story, the company has capitalized on the flexibility of Sage Intacct’s robust API and Platform Services, a toolset to extend Sage Intacct by creating custom objects, pages, and applications.

“Sage Intacct enabled us to build out this custom ecommerce platform that only needs the data in Sage Intacct — there are very few other pieces that it relies on,” said Dylan Harris, manager of information systems and technology.

“Authentication is through our Netlify host, but everything else ecommerce related goes straight into or is pulled from Sage Intacct,” Harris added. "It relies almost entirely on the Sage Intacct API and Platform Services.”

A 2x–3x Improvement in Order Efficiency

Rolled out in July 2020, the site utilizes the Sage Intacct cloud financial management platform to automate order processing and handle sales, invoices, returns, and other transactions. That's dramatically reduced manual data entry work by the customer service team, improving order efficiency 2x to 3x over a previous ecommerce site.

Moreover, customers now have visibility into their full history of orders and invoices, whether placed via the web, phone, or email (compared to only web orders in the past). c3controls expects improved customer experiences will markedly increase the share of ecommerce sales.

Customers have new speed and convenience in configuring and ordering products, while the customer service team has less manual work on phone and email orders.

Customers also have new ability to place bulk and recurring orders, and c3controls can better manage price lists that may be customized to certain customers. “We have a lot of special pricing agreements with select customers, and we can show them real-time pricing across all those SKUs on the web," Harris said.

Inventory data is held in Sage Intacct through daily synchronization with a MISys manufacturing application, with updates to the ecommerce website. B2B shoppers can select and configure products that include circuit breakers, relays, switches, and indicator lights. All told, c3controls offers more than 15 million potential product configurations by voltage, amperage, size, color, and other attributes.

A ‘Big Win’ in High Performance Ecommerce

Inability of the previous ecommerce site to scale to large SKU volumes and configurations, or to provide customers with complete order and invoice history, prompted c3controls to rethink its ecommerce platform.

Attending the 2019 Sage Intacct Advantage conference, Harris asked around if other organizations had utilized the Sage Intacct API and Platform Services in an ecommerce architecture, but found none. With a vision for a revamped website in a JAMstack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) model, Harris and his dev team creatively engineered a modern, lightweight site.

It’s based on Sage Intacct, the open-source Vue/Nuxt framework hosted on Netlify, and the MISys application. Harris's team built the ecommerce site without an implementation partner or dedicated integration tool, relying instead on the “great documentation” for the Sage Intacct API and Platform Services, and their own ingenuity.

“It actually does feel like a unique, progressive use of the Sage Intacct API and Platform Services that I haven’t seen documented anywhere else,” Harris said. “It’s lightweight, high performance, and works really well. It’s been a big win for us as a development team."

A Platform for Aggressive Growth

Harris’s team has made extensive use of Custom Objects, Custom Fields, Smart Rules, and Smart Events capabilities in Platform Services. For example, a custom object created for each web user ties to various customer data fields in Sage Intacct. That’s what gives customers a complete order and invoice history.

“Now, we can securely expose those records and say, ‘Hey, here’s everything you ever ordered from us, whether on the web, phone, or email,’” Harris said. “It’s really great."

Smart Rules, Smart Events, and the API have “allowed us to automate a lot of processes and set up ecommerce workflows that take the heat off our customer service team,” Harris said. "Sage Intacct has everything we need to put of lot of things on rails that used to be manual.”

Looking forward, Harris plans to continue leveraging Sage Intacct as c3controls expands on its strong growth in the past five years, which included opening additional manufacturing locations in El Salvador and India to keep pace with rising demand.

“Sage Intacct and Platform Services have enabled my team to build amazing systems for the company," Harris said. "The versatility and scalability we have with Sage Intacct are going to allow us to hit our aggressive growth goals over the next 10 years.”

A $200,000 Savings in Accounting and New Business Insights

The creative ecommerce initiative builds on the success c3controls has realized since adopting Sage Intacct in 2015 to replace Oracle NetSuite, with which the company had unsatisfactory experiences and a difficult relationship.

Productivity is up on the accounting side, as c3controls was able to leave two vacated positions unfilled. Financials are now handled by a three-person accounting team, rather than a five-person team in the past. That amounts to a roughly $200,000 savings in salary and benefits.

"I lead a lean group as we have a three-person accounting tam now vs. the five-person team we had before, and that’s sustainable," said Kate Crisci, accounting manager. "We don't need any additional people at this time because Sage Intacct lets us be productive and efficient.”

Visibility is improved as well through Sage Intacct dashboards for about 20 users, including the CEO and individuals in leadership positions, order entry, and operations. On-demand data with drill-down generates insights into revenue and profitability for informed decision-making.

"Our CEO knows what sales, cash, accounts receivable, and revenue are at any time,” Crisci said. “If something seems off, we can adjust quickly rather than me providing a report at the end of the month.”

Plus, c3controls has new visibility by replacing a “nightmare” of Excel reporting for demand planning by aggregating Sage Intacct and MISys data in a SQL database.

“Again, Sage Intacct API for the win," Harris said. “That report used to take three to five business days. Now it takes five minutes and it’s basically real-time data.”

Learn more about the company's innovative use of Sage Intacct in our c3controls case study.

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