Making a splash online
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 e-commerce 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 e-commerce 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 e-commerce platforms, enough was enough.
Ironing out the kinks in their online store
Three years ago, while on the search for an e-commerce 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.”
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.
Using Neto POS (Point of Sale) meant we could easily sell directly to customers at tradeshows.