Ultratec is a 25 year old company that supplies special effects and pyrotechnics to the entertainment industry. Their goal in creating a new web site was to ensure that content, including accounting content, was managed in only one location, and then displayed throughout their systems. The driving factors to create a new website were; consistency between part numbers, part descriptions, pricing and inventory in all systems and the ability for orders to flow into the accounting system unassisted.
The challenge then became; how do we develop a system that integrates to the accounting system and CRM, gives the Ultratec tools that will make it easy to create pages, add content and manage categories and which can be extended as they grow.
Iciniti Corporation is a software development firm that specializes in integrated shopping carts and credit card payments for the Sage Accpac ERP accounting system. As we looked at developing our newest product, Iciniti eCommSuite 5.0, it occurred to us that web store content was simply another form of corporate content and as such should be managed as part of a Content Management System. Iciniti’s products are .NET, C#, ASPX applications so we went looking for a content management system using similar technology. This led us to Sitefinity. With very little change, we were able to modify our web store controls so that they sat seamlessly within a Sitefinity project.
Ultratec purchased the Iciniti Store and SDK late in 2009. They hired Jeff Dease from Software Solution Development to implement the new website/store. The goal was to create a solution where all content was managed only once and then all other systems that touched that content were updated automatically. As an example; going into the ERP and changing a product short description should automatically update the description on the website, warehouse management system, CRM and barcode printer. By using the Iciniti eCommerce controls everything about customers and products in the ERP are automatically inherited by the website – price, discount levels, sale items, contract pricing, open invoices, order history, accounts receivable history, inventory counts are all displayed at the website as corporate content. This integration between Iciniti Store, Sitefinity, Sage Accpac ERP and Sage CRM became the foundation for Ultratec’s new website.
Ultratec has two divisions: special effects and pyrotechnics. The first site to be developed was the pyrotechnics site and although the need for extended content management was not as important to this site, it was recognized early on that it would evolve over time. One area of content management that was critical to Ultratec was the ability to link YouTube videos to product categories. Iciniti has developed controls and administration tools for linking products in the ERP to categories in Sitefinity. Using Sitefinity tools, these categories can now be connected to YouTube videos, so as an end-user flips through categories the relevant product video is displayed on the page. Ultratec also uses the News module capabilities in Sitefinity to manage their news feeds.
Ultratec now has a website that is fully integrated to their accounting system and CRM. Customers can come on line and check pricing, place orders, pay open invoices, reprint invoices, review order status and even place new orders based on old orders with a single click of a mouse. Office staff can easily manage their content, adding new products, new videos, changing descriptions and adding news items.
Ultratec’s customer rely 100% on the website for their pricing information. Because of Iciniti’s integration to the accounting system, the pricing information presented to the customer is dynamic and customer specific, so Customer A may see one price and Customer B may see a different price and even a different currency while viewing the same page. Ultratec has a very limited number of clients so the purpose of the web site was never to drive more business, but rather to service customers better. The new site has achieved this. Their clients love its ease of use, the dynamic presentation of up-to-date pricing, product descriptions and stock availability along with relevant videos and news.
An unanticipated advantage of the new system is its accessibility by mobile devises. Ultratec’s old site was fairly static and Flash based, which meant that the only way to access it from mobile devices was to develop custom applications. The new web site can be hit from the browser on most new mobile devices and customers can drill right down to their account in the ERP. “This thing has got a tremendous amount of power.” said Adrian Segeren. “A lot more power than even I recognized in the early stages of it. So it doesn’t matter where you are, you can get on line and check orders.”
Iciniti, Sitefinity, Sage Accpac ERP and Sage CRM combine to create a winning solution.