For decades, Texas Supplements has enjoyed a sterling reputation as one of the nation’s leading nutraceutical manufacturers. Thanks to their high quality products, ongoing nutrition research, and tireless advocacy by founder Dr. Robert J. Marshall, PhD, they’ve built a devoted client base throughout the country. They had done a great job developing a quality product and on top of that, have been successful at building trust and awareness of the product via quality content development and education. Texas Supplements is also supported by a cadre of medical and healthcare professionals who distribute their products to clients through their practices and clinics. Yet, for all their client support, the company faced a potential loss of market share in the very near term in both their consumer and practitioner client bases. That’s one of the primary reasons they ultimately decided to establish a comprehensive digital commerce strategy.
AN AGING CLIENT BASE
Texas Supplements has two brands; the one known as Premier Research Labs is sold exclusively through practitioners, and another that is sold direct to consumers. Texas Supplements’ consumer-facing brand is Quantum Nutrition Labs, also known as QN Labs. Not that long ago, the brand’s web presence – QNLabs.com – was merely a brochure site and clients were unable to place orders online. Instead, QN Labs clients had to phone in their orders and each order was handled by a client services rep. Meanwhile, competitors featured easy-to-navigate websites that provided typical eCommerce capabilities – all accessible via desktop or mobile.
At the same time, the client base for QNL’s products was undergoing a bit of a metamorphosis. Their core clients were aging. QNL needed to move decisively to establish a younger client base that would spur company growth well into the future.
Unlike their older clients, these new target clients typically find the online catalogue style shopping experience onerous and time consuming; and in particular, they are loath to call in an order. They’re accustomed to buying online with little-to-no human interaction. And more often than not, they’re doing so using a mobile device. From both the consumer and practitioner standpoint, QNL clearly understood the challenge they faced. Market share would erode as new (younger) consumers turned to competitors offering an eCommerce experience more commensurate with their expectations; in spite of QNL’s superior product quality.
QNL also realized the need to revamp brand appeal, including elements of their online presence and content delivery methods. Long reliant on the success of their founder’s radio broadcasts for driving sales, the rebranding effort required a website with a modern look and feel, greater incorporation of video elements, and the ability to push content into a variety of social media platforms.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRACTITIONER
Prior to engaging Blue Fish, Texas Supplements had made other attempts at building out an eCommerce site, but with little success. As part of their new strategy, they took a more serious, comprehensive approach than before and realized that the first step was to get their back office systems up to snuff. Texas Supplements chose SAP Business One as their new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform, quickly implemented it, and then started looking for an digital commerce consulting partner that could help them achieve their vision and an eCommerce platform that would work well with SAP. Texas Supplements’ growth plans meant that a seamless integration between the eCommerce solution and SAP was mission critical.
Texas Supplements chose Blue Fish as their commerce consulting partner. Texas Supplements stated that they chose Blue Fish because Blue Fish “brought their A-game” at every interaction and was flexible and willing to hand-hold a firm like Texas Supplements who were novices at eCommerce. Additionally, Blue Fish is a respected implementation partner of multiple eCommerce platform providers and has been integrating business systems and addressing eCommerce challenges since 1999.
DIAGNOSTICS AND REGIMEN
Blue Fish engaged with Texas Supplements in a Discovery and Definition process that clarified their long term vision and ferreted out the nuances of their requirements. In turn, this process enabled the team to select the ideal eCommerce platform – which was Magento Enterprise – and to devise a comprehensive implementation plan.
Magento Enterprise was chosen in large part because it allows for hosting multiple stores on a single instance of Magento. Even though Texas Supplements would need multiple stores, QNLabs.com, PRLabs.com and eventually individual practitioner-branded sites, Blue Fish would be able to do so via a single infrastructure build. This saved a great deal of time and money, and avoided maintenance headaches. Further, Magento’s B2B flexibility also gave the team the latitude to accommodate different products lines and different buyer profiles on these consumer and practitioner sites, again even though they are built on a single infrastructure.
Blue Fish’s plan would cover design and implementation of PRLabs.com and QNLabs.com on Magento Enterprise, the ERP integration of both sites to SAP, and would illustrated how PRL’s vision would be realized in four phases:
It quickly became clear that there was significant revenue opportunity available if PRL and Blue Fish could rapidly develop a new eCommerce site for QNLabs.com, even if only with rudimentary functionality. It was decided to quickly implement an ‘interim’ QNLabs.com site in parallel with building out PRL’s long-term version. The “Phase 0” version of QNLabs.com was designed to represent the Quantum Nutrition Labs brand within out-of-the-box Magento functionality, was integrated with SAP Business One via a third party connector from APPSeCONNECT, and was ready to launch within just a few short weeks.
This phase would produce a Foundation Release for both the consumer site (QNLabs.com) and the practitioner site (PRLabs.com) that rebrands both sites and offers deep functionality improvements for consumers, practitioners, and the PRL operations team. The QNLabs.com Foundation Release would replace the interim site launched during Phase 0. Examples of functionality improvements for the Foundation Release included the ability to drop-ship products to clients; a separate practitioner pricing, order placement and account management; and the ability to tag practitioners to give them credit for orders placed by the clients they refer to PRL.
The goal of Phase 2 is to develop a website platform for use by PRL’s practitioner clients. The platform would enable practitioners to offer their own self-branded eCommerce sites for selling PRL products, and would be built on the same Magento platform as the Foundation Releases built in Phase 1. Each practitioner site would have similar structure but unique branding and to their clients, would feel like the practitioner’s own individual site.
Similar to the platform development for practitioners in Phase 2, this phase involves development of integration points for B2B ecommerce with large practitioners or retailers who want to provide PRL’s products but have an existing eCommerce site. This capability allows retailers to easily incorporate PRL’s products into their inventory and opens up a vast channel for incremental sales at PRL.
ASSESSING TREATMENT OUTCOMES
In the short time that Texas Supplements’ sites have been live, the results have been fantastic. Of course starting from zero on-line sales means that they really didn’t know what to expect, however the sales have been ramping very quickly and the metrics are on track to achieve the business results they had hoped for.
Clients are still able to call in orders if they choose to do so, but many existing clients, and just as expected, many new clients, are taking advantage of their new eCommerce sites. One of the greatest thrills for the Texas Supplements team is to arrive on a Monday having sold vast amounts of supplements over the weekend, when in the past no one could have been around to take those orders!