A Healing Salve for Any B2B Woes

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2004-02-16 Print this article Print

When lax inventory controls and a shoddy electronic communications system caused the maker of a popular medicinal skin cream to chafe, it turned to ePartners for help reining in third-party activities.

When lax inventory controls and a shoddy electronic communications system caused the maker of a popular medicinal skin cream to chafe, it turned to a systems integrator for back-end integration and a new ERP system.

Blue Stuff Inc., maker of the medicinal Emu oil-based skin cream of the same name, is a relatively young company that until recently was relying on an outdated MAS 90 Enterprise Resource Planning system from Best Software Inc. for such things as inventory control and business-to-business transaction processing. Not only did the system process only batch information from its suppliers, but it also provided no real input to Blue Stuffs third-party call center.

While the system worked well in the beginning, it became incredibly taxed once sales began to soar, thanks in part to endorsements from Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn and two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA all-star Ruthie Bolton.

"[The founder] started the company via an infomercial with the success that no one could imagine," said Eric Grow, controller at Blue Stuff, in Oklahoma City, Okla. "[The company] was using an old FoxPro-based system for their sales orders. It was a beautiful system, but it was by no means designed to handle the volume it handles now. We used MAS 90 for accounting and were making [manual] general entries. The mail order system would require batching," and the third-party call center took quite a lot of time to batch orders, process credit cards and come back with information to an outside fulfillment center.

Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion about productivity and business solutions. The answer was obvious. Blue Stuff needed to move away from batch processing and integrate its back-end systems with its third-party fulfillment and call centers. At the same time, it needed to have a means of electronically communicating with national retailers that sell Blue Stuff creams. To do it, the company turned to systems integrator and Microsoft Corp. Business Solutions partner ePartners Inc., in Irving, Texas.

Although Blue Stuff considered local companies, it felt more comfortable branching out to ePartners, Grow said.

"Most resellers will outsource integration," said Grow. "And most of the people we looked at in our part of the country would have brought in a third-party [integrator], whereas ePartners had a staff large enough that they brought in their own people. That was a big reason [we went with them]. We could actually talk to the people that would do the implementation."


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