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Draper Tools Increases Online Sales and Streamlines Internal Processes with WebSmart-Developed Web Applications

  • Colin Richmond, IT Manager
  • Draper Tools
  • Website

Since 2005, Draper Tools has used WebSmart ILE to write applications that streamline internal processes in sales, warehousing, administration and finance. Draper's IT team built their B2B website, a full-featured ecommerce solution for their customers, with WebSmart ILE. In the two years since implementing their B2B website, Draper has seen online sales increase to 20% of overall sales from 3%.

We asked Colin Richmond, Draper Tool's IT Manager, some questions about his experiences with WebSmart ILE. Here are his responses:

Why did you choose WebSmart ILE to begin developing web applications for your IBM i?

We have over 25 years' experience using IBM mid-range equipment but didn't start developing for the web until 2004. We began using WebSmart ILE in 2005 after assessing several methods for writing web applications that could integrate with our IBM i database. Based on our assessment, WebSmart ILE was by far the easiest and most cost-effective solution.

We appreciate how easily WebSmart ILE integrates with our existing IBM i applications and data. We also found that WebSmart ILE reduced the learning curve for our RPG developers to begin producing effective web-based applications.

What types of applications have you developed with WebSmart ILE?

We used WebSmart ILE to develop:

  • Our private B2B site, which includes inventory inquiry, order tracking and account registration with validation against the IBM i database.
  • Parts of our public website, including a catalogue that displays product images, descriptions, calls pricing routines and integrates Google maps to locate dealers and includes search functionality.
  • Internal warehouse management systems, including handheld barcode integration.
  • Other standalone systems that provide flexible data retrieval for our office and sales force users.

Which WebSmart-developed application are you the most proud of? Why?

We believe that our B2B web site has had the biggest impact on Draper Tools because it has allowed us to increase the volume of electronic sales from 3% to over 20% in the space of two years. The B2B site also allows our customers to make pricing and stock inquiries, and track orders online.

What is your favorite WebSmart ILE feature?

Simply, the ease with which developers can create effective applications.

Are you using WebSmart ILE with mobile devices like iPads and iPhones? If not, do you have future plans to do so?

Our sales force currently manages their customers, takes orders, tracks orders and manages calls via a WebSmart-developed application on laptops. We have provided smartphones to our sales force and are currently adapting the existing systems for the smartphones.

How has your organization benefited from WebSmart ILE?

  • We've seen quicker and more flexible systems development for our internal warehouse and reporting systems.
  • Customer relations have improved through our B2B website. It's now easier to place and track orders, which has increased customer loyalty. We saw the call volume for support and pricing inquiries fall but it is difficult to quantify by how much.
  • The internal end user response has also been very positive because we've moved the data selection to them. They can download what they need without having to ask IT for reports and data.

How has WebSmart ILE changed the way you or your IT department are perceived within your organization?

I would like to think that we are now perceived as more responsive and more capable of producing systems that the end user wants quicker and more effectively.

What applications do you plan to create for your next WebSmart ILE project?

We are planning more warehouse automation and an ongoing expansion of our B2B website.

Would you recommend WebSmart ILE to other people? Why?

Definitely yes, we have found WebSmart ILE to be an effective development platform. The support we get across the board is also excellent.

About Draper Tools

Draper Tools has distributed tools within the UK and around the world for professional and consumer use since 1919. With over 550,000 square feet of storage in Britain, Draper's warehouse may be the largest stock of tools in one place in the UK.