It’s one thing to have a fantastic idea for a problem-solving product, but taking it to market and building a successful business around it is quite another challenge.
Australia’s top retailers were clamouring to stock Tim Kierath’s ‘Hoselink’ product, but they were also driving down his gross profit margin and putting a real damper on the growth of the business. And that’s when Tim and his son Ben decided to set up their own online store. However, finding a reliable ecommerce solution proved to be easier said than done.
From the living room to the warehouse
Tim was frustrated with hose fittings that break or leak, so in true entrepreneurial spirit he designed his own patented ‘no burst’ hose connector. But when it came to selling the product, he soon realised it was important to their business model to cut out the middleman and sell direct to consumers. So the family business got set up with their first ecommerce platform and started selling online. The hose fittings were a hit with Aussie gardeners who had shared Tim’s original frustration with flawed hoses.
As a result the business quickly outgrew their living room as well as three warehouses over the next three years. But each time they scaled up, they found their online store unable to meet Hoselink’s rapidly growing needs. And that was just the start of the problems. “Sometimes our websites would go offline for days at a time and nobody cared,” says Ben. “What’s more, the ‘solutions’ couldn’t even integrate our online and phone sales so even just getting an accurate picture of our stock levels and sales required a lot of admin." After a handful of failed ecommerce platforms, enough was enough.
Ironing out the kinks in their online store
Three years ago, while on the search for an ecommerce platform that ticked all their business requirements, Tim and Ben came across Neto. “We could immediately see how it would transform the way we worked and streamline business operations. It seamlessly integrated all aspects of our business – from customer contact to syncing our phone and online orders, shipping, stock management and after sales support.”
There were other features that would solve more unexpected problems for Hoselink.
Using Neto POS (Point of Sale) meant we could easily sell directly to customers at tradeshows,
Ben explains. “Even without an internet connection at a remote location, a customer could add items to their cart and the products would sync back to our database when we had a connection. That was more professional and far less time consuming than jotting names on bits of paper and manually entering them once back at the hotel.”
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Integrated shipping and processing also meant a huge reduction in admin time spent on picking, packing and labelling, along with the ability to work with different shipping providers. Flexibility isn’t just a boon for the family business; it’s something their customers appreciate too. “Options like zipPay and Paypal keep our customers happy and they are great for our business too because they increase our chance of conversion,” says Ben.
An outstanding customer experience
Building enduring customer relationships is key to Hoselink’s business model. Driven by a comprehensive television and digital advertising campaign they sell direct to consumers via their website and toll free phone number. And their business has grown exponentially as a result of building a loyal database of happy customers. In fact, Hoselink’s fittings are now in over a million Australian back yards.
They are a company that values customer feedback and uses it to drive the design of new products. But as any business owner knows, keeping customers coming back to your online store takes more than flexible payment options and on-time delivery. And that’s where Neto’s customer-centric features add further value. “Our old solutions made it impossible to keep customer records, let alone tailor the site to buyer behaviour,” explains Ben.
“With Neto we can use the recommendations feature to alert our customers to other items of interest and we also plan to use the loyalty reward option at a later date. Plus we have a comprehensive customer data record at our fingertips for after sales service. It’s important to make our customers’ shopping experience easier, more efficient and more enjoyable.”
Taking business from strength to strength
There’s no denying that happy customers are great for business, but it’s not the only reason Hoselink’s business has grown in leaps and bounds in the three years since embracing Neto. “It’s a very flexible ecommerce platform that automates many of the mundane admin tasks, leaving us free to focus on what we do best. It also scales easily to keep up with rapid growth. And the opportunities with it are endless. You can do anything you like if you know what you want,” says Ben.
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It’s a very flexible ecommerce platform that automates many of the mundane admin tasks, leaving us free to focus on what we do best.