SPS create, design, manufacture and deliver promotional items. They are the UK’s biggest supplier of customised merchandise. If you have ever had pens printed with your logo, a branded plastic bag or a customised mug, the company who supplied it probably got them from SPS.
Having their own production facility gives SPS the freedom to design and produce almost anything they can think of. The usual pens and mugs are just the tip of the iceberg – they can do embroidery, customised books, glassware, food, electronic items and even totally custom-shaped items such as magnets and rulers.
SPS’s business model is to not supply to the end-user but to a network of resellers across Europe who then sell to business. SPS offer these resellers a package which includes credit facilities, delivery, marketing support and a website.
SPS were in the throes of completely updating the system which runs the entire business (stock control, delivery, accounting, production, purchasing, quoting…everything) with Azzure IT. The new system is based around a bespoke version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Azzure asked us to come up with a web-based control system which allowed SPS’s internal sales staff to get quotes easily out of the system and to update product information without having to become NAV experts. The customer-facing part of the website needed to present all of their products and allow users to get their own quotes for products. The other major requirements were:
- Build a corporate website based on SPS’s new brand that allowed customers to create, save and share their own quotes.
- Website to have full product range and images driven by data from NAV. The CMS can write data and updates back into NAV.
- Website to run standalone if the NAV system should ever become unavailable.
- Users can use the site as resellers, or create their own site. Their own site can be styled and branded to their needs but is still in-part controlled by SPS for pricing and product range.
- Multi-language system to allow site translation to major European languages.
- Phone and tablet-friendly as resellers are often mobile
Making intensive use of NAV’s WebServices we were able to get a very high level of communication between the system and our new ecommerce, CMS website. The way NAV presents its data, coupled with the outdated functionality of the existing website made a complete rebuild and redesign of the existing SPS website necessary.
A major design challenge was making the site responsive to mobile devices, bearing in mind the large amount of data that was needed to be displayed and the interactivity required.
We also created “The Quote Machine”,which is the heart of the website. It allows anybody to test out different quantities and style combinations of an SPS product and see the effects on price. It also suggests different quantities to what have been requested if that would make the quote more efficient by taking into account factors such as production methods or delivery options which the customer would not be aware of.
Quotes can be saved in a basket for later use, or shared to customers by email or social media.
If an SPS reseller wants to have their own website rather than referring to the SPS site for quotes, this can be done at the push of a button on any chosen domain. A reseller has a choice of two layouts, each of which can be further customised with their branding, which includes their colour scheme, logos and fonts and header images. Some of the pages, such as “About Us” are editable by the owner and some remain under the control of SPS so they can remain in charge of product images and pricing. SPS can also add updates such as “special offer” banners when needed. In this way the reseller can sit back and let SPS do the hard work (product and pricing management, providing quotes) and concentrate on selling the products. These sites come pre-filled with content and are ready to go live, even if the owner makes no changes. The system will allow further layouts to be added in the future to eventually build up a collection of designs.
- The Quote Machine now handles over 1500 enquiries per day!
- SPS staff can easily amend products, prices and add special offers to their website without having to be a NAV expert. However the people at SPS who are NAV experts can make any changes to the system and have them reflected on the website.
- Resellers can set up their own website with very little effort. SPS can impose any changes they like to the products and offers shown on their resellers’ sites so the resellers don’t need to keep up with the constant changes.
- Resellers can share quotes on social media or via email or just save them in their account area for later. Product pages can also be shared in the same way and samples of any product can be requested.
- The website will still run using local data if a technical or network problem occurs with the NAV system, so business is not lost.
- SPS admin-level users of the website can gather data which they were previously unable to such as which customer service representatives have generated the most quotes or who are their most prolific resellers.
- SPS admins can also log in as resellers to help with any queries they may have.
SPS have now been acquired by PF Concept and the UK website is no longer visible. We have left the case study as the system is still in use internally.