With their first child on its way, Casey and Margarita McClure decided they wanted cloth diapers for their children, but couldn’t find what they were looking for. The McClures had two restaurants and Margarita planned to stay home with the children. Not finding the cloth diapers she desired, Margarita made her own and soon the couple realized they might have stumbled upon an opportunity.
After selling some of her creations in on eBay at a premium price, the couple decided to shift their focus away from their restaurants and work on growing their new business in Knoxville, Tenn., Blueberry Diapers. The McClure’s would find out that growing their business wouldn’t be as easy as their early sales. With all of their drive and ambition, limiting technology was holding them back.
“So we've always looked for business opportunities, so I encouraged Margarita to look into making a business out of it,” says Casey McClure, director of sales for Blueberry Diapers. “She made a couple of diapers to sell on eBay. They sold for about $26, which for a no-name brand of cloth diapers was really quite outrageous. We make about $.10 on a sandwich at the restaurant and she was making about $20 profit on a diaper.”
At that point the two started to put the wheels in motion to secure manufacturers, suppliers and everything else they needed to start a small operation. When the company launched in 2005, it has sales of about $150,000. As the company continued to grow, make it through the Great Recession and expand to 23 different countries, it has been able to build into a $3 million company in 2013.
“It's not crazy growth, but for a small company like us, it’s been kind of a wild and rewarding ride,” explains McClure. “We sell all over the world and it's all due to the reach of the Web. We don't have sales people out there beating the ground or flying overseas to visit people. It has pretty much been organically grown through our website.”
Blueberry Diapers feels that there are a couple of things that makes them stand apart from their competition. Probably the biggest differentiator for the company is that 90 percent of their products are made in the USA. While they admit that there are a couple of ancillary products made in China due to materials and cost, most their competitors are completely made overseas.
The second thing that makes them stand out is the great customer service and flexible attitude of the company. “We’re a small company so we can adapt and change quickly. Companies enjoy working with us because we’re that way,” adds McClure. “We’re very reliable and people know what to expect from us.”
Blueberry Diapers’ domestic retail partners have certainly taken notice of how the company does business. As the company began touring some of their partners, they began to hear tales of how one of its largest competitors was becoming increasing hard to deal with. Retailers became less apt to buy from the competitor, bringing in more business for Blueberry Diapers.
“We came from the restaurant industry where the biggest expense is labor,” explains McClure. “Starting Blueberry Diapers, we tried to tailor the business to avoid all the things we didn't like about the restaurant industry. Like being open 365 days a year or having 60 employees run two restaurants. So we came into this business and wanted technology to do as much for us as possible, so we could start off smart and avoid big labor expenses.”
Blueberry Diapers originally had a custom PHP site that it spent about $50,000 to get up and running. It was a lot of money in 2004 for the young company. McClure and his wife knew what they wanted to do, but this was their first foray with an e-commerce site. As they used their initial system more and more, they realized that it wasn’t really what they needed.
“When we processed orders on the old system, we were able to put orders into the inventory end, but we weren't able to pull any reports to let us know where we were at,” explains McClure. “We weren't able to run on-hand inventory reports, see any orders committed or anything backordered. We couldn't even accept backorders even if we wanted to. It was all very cumbersome.”
The company systems weren’t speaking to each other. Employees had to spend a lot of time copying and pasting information into different software, limiting the number of orders they could process and making much of their work a laborious, manual process.
“As we got bigger and more orders starting coming it, everything became very cumbersome,” says McClure. “If we had a sale, it would crash our site which was all very frustrating and limiting. We’d have to call our hosting company to let them know of a sale ahead of time, so they could allocate more bandwidth on their server to handle the traffic.”
These were just some of the reasons that got Blueberry Diapers to seek out something else that the company could grow into and handle all the things that was holding the company back. They needed a system that could free up a lot of their time that had been focused on mundane tasks. That’s when they looked at NetSuite SuiteCommerce.
SuiteCommerce delivers omnichannel shopping and service experiences through a single commerce cloud platform that combines e-commerce, in-store POS and order management with back office systems. It allows real-time visibility between separate systems by bringing fragmented sources of data into a single repository to make informed, timely business decisions.
Switching to NetSuite SuiteCommerce has had multiple impacts on Blueberry Diapers. For starters, the company accountant has been able to reduce the number of hours she sits in front of a computer running reports and ironing out financials. Much of the process has become automatic and easy to use.
“Operationally at the warehouse, processing orders has come down to a couple of clicks instead of importing in and out of additional software,” explains McClure. “Where we were able to process maybe 20 orders per hour we can now process anywhere from 70 to 80 orders per hour.”
Using such a dynamic system, the company is more flexible and ready for just about anything. When Blueberry Diapers runs a sale on a unique product, they now know they can handle the increased traffic. During such a sale, the site traffic increased to over 20,000 visitors and the company was able to handle it calmly. The company can now take anywhere from 150 to 300 orders an hour with the site operating smoothly.
“We didn't have to worry about a crash or anything like that,” says McClure. “It was a huge problem with the old site we had, but we don't have to worry about that with NetSuite. People are able to get on it it's not slow or anything. It's something that's really appreciated from our side and our customer side as well.”
“You know change is never easy,” explains McClure. “We were kind of stuck in a groove in doing things that we knew real well. For the employees where the new process was tailored to give them specific roles in the system, we were able to spend a week training them and then they were up a running on their own.”
Overall, the one thing that keeps Blueberry Diapers running smoothly, compared to the old system, is NetSuite’s dashboard, according to McClure.
“When I log in to look at the dashboard, I'm able to look at everything all at once,” explains McClure. “I can see amount of sales that came in that day, the volume we shipped that day, open sales orders, our website hits, our cart and checkout abandonment, receivables, payables, comparative sales and so on. I can see all of those things that I didn't have before. Just like that I can get a snapshot of how our business is doing that day, week and month.”
This detailed look into the business has help motivate the team as well. Recently, the company was really pushing to sales in order to beat the previous year’s record. Having access to the timely information helped the company make their goal.
“I'd say it's the order processing is the biggest help and that's improved our operations,” adds McClure. “We’re able to process more orders with NetSuite and the new site than we ever were before. And with upgrades to the software, it's becoming even easier. It's definitely helped us tremendously.”
Last year, company sales were up 18 percent and this year they’re shooting for a 25 to 30 percent increase. McClure and his wife understand that getting over the $5 million hump greatly increases the vitality of the company and makes it better suited to weather an economic storm like the recent Great Recession.
“We put a lot of the things in place last year to make this year a high growth year,” says McClure. “This industry that we’re in has been continuously growing and we don't really foresee a downturn anytime soon.”