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Client Stories - CR Kennedy

Wild & Wolf

Picture perfect: leading the digital space in photography

Founded in 1934, C.R. Kennedy (C.R.K) is Australia's largest independent importer and distributor of photographic, survey, medical and CCTV equipment. The business values long-term relationships and is the first and oldest international distributor of Pentax, which they began distributing in 1954. C.R.K is incredibly passionate about technology and is always aiming to be at the forefront of distribution and logistics. The company embraces the latest technology to provide their customers with nothing but the best selection of products and customer service, in addition to increasing the organisation’s overall efficiency.

“C.R.Kennedy was founded in 1934 and is still in operation as a family owned business. We have managed to stay in business and expand our operations now for 85 years by continually looking to work in partnership with suppliers who create leading products with technologically advanced features.” said David Schar, IT Manager at C.R Kennedy.

Back in 2014, C.R.K began working with Woven with the aim to create an ecommerce solution that aligns with their existing ERP system, Pronto Xi. Soon enough, both companies began collaborating widely, fostering a long-lasting relationship in which we challenge one another’s ability to constantly innovate. Initially, Woven’s challenge was to ensure that every solution created for C.R.K could be innovated down the track, in-line with their ambitious and ever-growing vision.

“Our focus is always to extend sales and distribution in to as many locations in Australia as we can. We represent many brands and have a very large product range. We needed to leverage the reach of the internet to make it easy for our customers to learn about our product range and purchase from us.” Continued Schar

How disintermediation fits into the puzzle

We knew one of C.R.K’s key goals was to have more direct communication and integration with their customers, both to ensure their long-term success and as a means to create more efficiency and opportunities for advancement. The key benefit of disintermediation is that it provides all key stakeholders with direct access to more information. It cuts out the middleman so businesses are dealing directly with customers - this also simplifies their supply chain and processes.

Our team began exploring under the hood of C.R.K’s business to discover what was really preventing them from successfully achieving disintermediation. Some of the issues included:

  • Their struggle to navigate multiple systems and vendors
  • None of their systems linking or being aligned, causing confusion, unnecessary complication and preventing streamlining
  • Overwhelm: the enormity of a manual back-end system was a huge factor and a significant admin burden that too often, resulted in the double handing of key data

“Our engagement with the Woven team is driven by our desire to have a digital platform that strongly integrates with our key backend system. We feel above all, this integration is key to ensuring we deliver functionality to our customers that works across our entire business.” We did not want a separate, standalone system which would leave customers confused. We needed a system that worked the same way for customers that the current sales process worked but made this process easier and more transparent.” Said David

Bringing connection to the forefront of ecommerce

Cutting out the middleman from C.R.K’s customer management systems was easily solved by using one vendor: Pronto (both for the company’s ERP and their ecommerce business). We knew this provided the company with a level of simplicity that hadn’t existed internally before. Our team also understood that it would result in the company saving time and dedicating resources back into its true passion: sourcing the most cutting-edge, innovative photo and imaging products.

“Our objectives were to implement web services to help showcase our large product list whilst tightly integrating with our ordering and dispatch systems. At the time we were looking to both replace our existing ERP as well as push more of our sales directly through our web site.” Said Schar

We began the process by moving C.R.K’s websites over to the Avenue ecommerce platform, providing the business with a holistic solution that streamlined their many business processes, ranging from their ecommerce to their ERP-Pronto Xi.

As we had already been working closely with C.R.K, our team was able to gain a solid understanding of their business, its brand and the products they wanted to market online. With both an Australian and New Zealand division, as well as many different brands and product groups including surveys, photo imagery, surveillance and audio visual, we had to ensure our Avenue platform catered for everything to ensure the business would continue running smoothly.

“We wanted a solution that provided a very tight integration between web and our backend sales and distribution system to help streamline sales and give our customers greater visibility of our products and their sales data.” explained David

A key part of our standard process of working with any organisation is to run workshops with all stakeholders and this case was no exception. We organised these workshops with C.R.K to learn about their many different products and categories. This knowledge opened up doors to further ensure Avenue was the best-suited solution. It was also an opportunity to improve C.R.K’s operations by implementing customisations such as product prioritising.

Staying in sync with APIs

Aiming to minimise distribution in the onboarding process, we provided a suite of ecommerce APIs to maintain seamless day-to-day operations, while we migrated C.R.K’s current sites to the Avenue platform.

Not only did this flow nicely with C.R.K’s key disintermediation goals as it simplified processes, these ecommerce APIs synced all current software to ensure pricing and inventory information remained aligned and linked regardless of the software or system used, between their current ecommerce B2B and Pronto Xi.

“With the deep integration with Pronto, the Woven team were able to deliver functionality we knew would work with Pronto and could get this done." adds David.

We also knew that C.R.K liaises with many dealers (their resellers) on a daily basis. To make these engagements smoother and provide greater control of information, we built a functionality called user facing APIs. These APIs bundle specific inventory data, including price and stock availability for each individual customer - in this case, CRK’s dealers. Once accessing a specific webpage supplied by C.R.K, the APIs enable the dealers to retrieve data and place orders without having to leave their own systems.

This then creates a more transparent and automated process for both C.R.K and their dealers, saving time and reducing admin burden. In terms of disintermediation, their customers (dealers) gain the correct information they need instantly and can place orders/see current pricing directly feeding back into their own system without having to log-in to CRK’s website or reach out to C.R.K’s sales team who these days, never have to manually input dealer’s orders. Additionally, our solution:

  • Streamlines their processes so they have more capacity for the things that help them to reach their objectives and stay ahead of the curve.
  • Provides a stable foundation to continue building from - aka a good experience to do more cool things.
  • Keeps the company on track and in-line with their advancement goals.

Turbocharging the brand’s online marketplace

To expand C.R.K’s global reach and continue to grow their customer base, C.R.K wanted to sell products via online marketplaces without the additional back of house overheads. In order to make this happen, the company needed to sync their inventory information from their ERP to the different marketplaces they were already present on.

“When new and disruptive services are created you need to adapt quickly or miss out. There is no single way to sell your products and we wanted to adopt new avenues to market to remain relevant.” Said Schar

Again, coming back to disintermediation, we knew C.R.K loves to be the first to undertake advancements and really push the envelope. They were already selling products online but a lot of back-end/manual work and input was needed to see how many orders were made via various marketplaces. These orders then needed to be entered manually into Pronto Xi. Having a connector would mean a significant load off in terms of admin work that could then also be automated.

Our team knew what was needed and wanted to ensure this was an intuitive and scalable solution. The idea was that once C.R.K had listed a product, their pricing and stock quantities were automatically maintained, while seamlessly passing through orders taken via their marketplace platforms. This would ensure everything is kept in-line with their back of house without the need for manual data entry.

A long-lasting and innovative relationship

Thanks to our amazing partnership, Woven and C.R.K continue to grow alongside one another to this day. We drive each other to stay ahead of the curve by collaborating in an innovative and supportive environment. They are always the first to embrace every solution, eager to take steps forward and advance their company into the digital age. This enables us to enhance our solutions, while allowing C.R.K to provide their customers with an enhanced seamless customer experience. All while dealing with one vendor and one innovative, tech-savvy crew (that’s us!).

“Woven team understands that during a project having the direct support of the CSM to keep the project moving towards a conclusion is key. These customer success managers have been our first point of call and key to ensuring our projects are completed without which we would not have delivered the functionality we now provide to our customers. The support team were also always responsive and keen to resolve any of our ongoing issues.” Explained Schar

C.R.K continues to work closely with our Customer Service Management (CSM) team. With our extensive knowledge of the company, we were able to successfully recommend and develop the most relevant solutions for them.

Impact

Over the last 5 years and counting, Woven and C.R.K have built a unique relationship that sees us developing a solution to service all parts of the company’s customer interactions. Fast-forward to 2019 and C.R.K has seven ecommerce sites across Australia and New Zealand using our Avenue platform. That’s in addition to a selection of our marketplace connectors/integrations, Pronto Xi Connect and API’s including ecommerce and user facing APIs, which have paved the way for disintermediation in their business while they continue on their path of advancement.

“Our sites are now the first port of call for a large number of our customers. They can find information about our products and their account easily without having to wait for a member of our staff. This frees up our staff to help with the bigger picture and provide more customer support. Particularly for those accounts who may need to provide immediate information to customers physically in store, being able to have a clear picture of our product range as well as up to date pricing and availability is a huge benefit to them.” said David.