Vaimo takes SA outdoor star to new online frontier

When Cape Union Mart decided to overhaul its online presence it turned to international eCommerce specialist Vaimo to deploy a solution.

April 18, 2013

When Cape Union Mart decided to overhaul its online presence it turned to international eCommerce specialist Vaimo to deploy a solution that would enhance customer experience, integrate seamlessly into its technology environment and perform admirably over the festive season rush.

Nick Bennett, marketing manager at Cape Union Mart, explains the company’s approach: “We recognised that eCommerce was a vital component of our sales strategy. If our customers want to browse products from the comfort of their home or office, and feel content purchasing those items online, then we wanted to ensure that doing so was as easy and simple as possible.”

Vaimo SA business development executive, Kevin Clarke explains the solution provider had multiple elements to consider in finding the most appropriate option for South Africa’s favourite outdoor adventure store.

“Cape Union Mart is not simply a chain of retail outlets. The company has an avid following not just as a supplier of goods to adventurers, but as an organisation that is actively involved in outdoor activities. This meant that the brand already had a considerable online presence that went beyond its own website to incorporate multiple active communities on social networking sites. Additionally, Cape Union Mart had conducted a major overhaul of its IT systems two years previously and any system coming in to the environment needed to integrate seamlessly into that environment and make best possible use of that investment,” he explains.

Vaimo’s ability to incorporate these factors into a solution design and project plan specifically tailored around the organisation’s objectives set it apart. Bennet explains: “Vaimo spoke knowledgeably about the advantages and pitfalls of implementing a project the size of this one. Vaimo’s clear understanding of the Magento platform and our ERP system, together with a laudable com¬pany track record, convinced us to partner with them.”

As Magento’s only gold solution partner in South Africa, Vaimo was also able to offer a solution leveraging experience in the international retail space, entirely customised for the flavour of the local market.

“We selected Magento because we were impressed with its functionality and flexibility. We needed a solution with the power to accommodate stock that we sell online, and stock that we sell in our brick-and-mortar stores. Magento seemed the best solution for us to make a “quantum leap” in our eCommerce offering,” Bennet comments.

Guided by the retailer’s business objectives, Vaimo established a project plan that identified four critical elements that would determine the solution’s success. Clarke explains: “The existing eCommerce environment was to be upgraded to the Magento platform and a new, future-safe store, created. The design of this store must extend beyond the customary look and feel parameters, leveraging our experience and specialist expertise to produce a sale-generating environment.

Clarke continues: “The final critical element surrounded the solution’s connection with the rest of the company’s technology environment. Having implemented a Sage ERP X3 system two years previously it was absolutely essential that the systems integrate seamlessly in order for either investment to produce the promised returns.”

The project – which included process analysis and, where required, re-engineering – had a deadline of four months to wrap up the implementation and successfully deliver an environment ready and able to benefit from the festive season rush.

Performance against this timeline was impressive says Bennet: “IT projects have a reputation of coming in over deadline, over budget and under expectation. This project was the exception and an absolute pleasure to be involved in.”

Clarke credits this to a fantastic project team made up of members from both organisations. “This is what happens when you have experienced, knowledgeable professionals working against realistic expectations.”

As for performance, Bennet says the new system is performing beyond its original promise. “We constantly monitor the performance of various indices of the system and most statistics are showing improvements, which is additionally reflected in our customer comments. We are pleased with how this partnership has started, and look forward to it only getting better.”