Total Concept Enterprises showcases eCommerce upgrades

by Super User
Event Flyer

It's more important than ever for California manufacturers to have an eCommerce platform, as its a fast-growing trend industrywide. In 2019, total eCommerce sales generated by all U.S. manufacturers increased by nearly 21 percent to $430 billion, according to Digital Commerce 360's 2020 B2B Manufacturing Report.

The Zoom presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be hosted by Genelle Taylor Kumpe, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Partnership. Company owner Dave McIlvaine and developer Adrian Rodriguez of Anchored Web Solutions will share a dialog about what it means for a manufacturer to transform its online presence with a fully functional website. The link to register to this free presentation is https://bit.ly/tcezoom.

Total Concept Enterprises hired Anchored Web Solutions to convert its more than 35,000 products to an eCommerce platform via a grant from California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, which will be explained during the webinar. Additionally, as Total Concept also has introduced its versatile collection of COVID Shields, the effort also encompasses a digital branding, social media, and promotional effort as the company grows.

"We put a lot of effort into making sure our business customers' expectations are exceeded, and so we needed our website to reflect these values online," said Liz McIlvaine, owner of Total Concept Enterprises, Inc. "One of the biggest factors in deciding our approach was developing a strategy for offering all of the products we have access to, directly to the market, in a streamlined format."

Web development, design, and promotions were accomplished by Anchored Web, a Fresno, Calif.-based delivery resource for CMTC. CMTC is one of 50 non-profits around the country designated to provide support to manufacturers in the United States. Anchored Web Solutions has developed websites for non-profits, private and government agencies for nearly 15 years.

Despite having experience with the needs of manufacturers and business-to-business clients, Anchored Web was presented with a unique set of challenges for this project, Rodriguez said.

"When I first learned of this project, I thought, 'Whoa. This isn't going to be easy,'" he said. "There were more than 35,000 items to be processed into an eCommerce platform, and for each category of items, there were sometimes a dozen images to be displayed with them. And this was only the first big hurdle of the project, which had many. It was a big ask right from the beginning."

The project was designed around the numerous technical challenges to ensure it was successful. The structure and support was provided by CMTC.

"Manufacturers need support, and so when we find a potential solution, whether its an online makeover like this, management consultation, accounting, logistics, or what have you, it's our priority to make the connection and spur it on," said Craig Scharton, CMTC. "We hope more of the makers in the Valley and state as a whole take advantage of our program, which was set up to foster this very kind of outcome."

The site launched at the end of 2020 after hours of data analysis, coding, and designing.

"The first major challenge was wrangling all of the data. Manufacturers are busy with entire fabrication schedules, and frankly, don't need to be burdened by issues like data integrity, relational data mapping and the rest," Rodriguez said. "Having a collaborative relationship is so important in this kind of project. Working with Terry Sharp [of Total Concept], we were able to get creative using his insight about the company to find the data we needed and merge it into the master table."

Product data consisted of distinct variations, price points, product image galleries, and multiple categories. The data was partially available but not all of the information was in a single place. Compound that problem by hundreds of categories across thousands of products — and there are lots of chances for errors to creep in. Even supplier data turned out to be outdated in a few places.

"Turns out, not all the products in our spreadsheet were still actively sold by the supplier," Dave McIlvaine said. "Having the data properly set up in the website made that obvious pretty quickly."

Once data was successfully brought into the database, the pricing for products needed to be imported directly into the same data set from the supplier. These mechanisms were developed so that future price updates could be initiated between the supplier and website via an API, saving time and overhead.

"We're proud and hopeful of the digital future of our company, which hasn't always been the case," Dave McIlvaine said. "Now, with a web platform this fully realized, there's practically no limit to our global reach."

Anchored Web Solutions, based in California, has been developing websites for more than 10 years. Anchored Web provides products and services to serve your digital media needs: professional and feature-rich websites, print and marketing collateral, and business solution software. Anchored Web was a global finalist in the Google Adwords “Train & Gain” Competition — one of fifteen in the world — in 2009.