M.I. Supplies Ltd. is a family-owned clothing retailer that supplies a broad range of workwear, safetywear and leisure clothing, including popular brands such as Snickers, Dickies, Carhartt, Helly Hansen and Caterpillar. Alex Ingham, managing director, set up M.I. Supplies Ltd. as a brick-and-mortar shop in 2005 and began selling online in 2007. M.I. Supplies now has its own webstore and also sells across Amazon to a variety of local and global companies.
M.I. Supplies began using eBay in 2007 on a trial basis. With no real strategy in place, M.I. Supplies viewed the opportunity as a one-time venture for selling excess inventory. By making the company’s products available on an online marketplace, M.I. Supplies inadvertently introduced itself to a whole new customer base. Soon, M.I. Supplies began selling on Amazon as well. But as a SKU-intensive company, M.I. Supplies soon began to experience frustrations with listing its inventory. With multiple SKU variables for the same product (such as colours and sizes), the company’s listing process was complicated and time-consuming.
M.I. Supplies evaluated several e-commerce solution providers to increase the speed of product listing and assist with the development of its online strategy. Ultimately, M.I. Supplies chose ChannelAdvisor after attending Catalyst Europe, ChannelAdvisor’s annual e-commerce conference.
“In 2011, I went to Catalyst, and that sealed the deal,” said Ingham. “The sales and support that ChannelAdvisor provided were extraordinary. The team helped us set up a unique account dashboard, which included a breakdown of each marketplace and webstore. After uploading the inventory, ChannelAdvisor then imported 27,000 SKUs in various colours and sizes. To do this manually would have meant employing an additional staff member. ChannelAdvisor’s solution is a more cost-effective approach.”
ChannelAdvisor also enabled M.I. Supplies to break down online sales by marketplace, automatically exporting directly to Royal Mail and importing into Sage, an accounting software. As a result, the company saved valuable time and was able to focus on other business priorities. By downloading this data, the saving in wages has been in excess of £60,000.
Since starting with ChannelAdvisor, M.I. Supplies has managed to build a strong foundation to sell on Amazon and other online platforms, with over 50% of the company’s online sales coming from Amazon. Today M.I. Supplies has 88,000 live SKUs and a near-real-time inventory feed that has helped improve customer service. With an additional 30,000 SKUs scheduled to be imported, the company is expecting to drive even more sales through Amazon. Following the success of selling on Amazon in the UK, M.I. Supplies is looking to expand internationally, beginning in France and Germany.
“Since using ChannelAdvisor, the speed and ease of product listing has improved dramatically, and our live inventory feed is now almost in real time. This has significantly helped improve the overall customer experience, not to mention led to a reduction in labour as we no longer have to do everything manually,” said Ingham.
“We’ve been so impressed with ChannelAdvisor’s services that we’ve recently adopted ChannelAdvisor’s Digital Marketing solution,” continued Ingham. “Having dedicated feed management capabilities, including paid search campaigns, Google Product Listing Ads and other advertising channels, from affiliate marketing to social media, will enable us to better manage our cross-channel initiatives. We’re looking forward to seeing the results.”