Pressin' all the right buttons

Pressin' all the right buttons

Summary: A brick-and-mortar cellular-phone distributor faces special challenges as it went ahead with plans to adopt e-commerce solutions. Two years later, during ePhone's first Christmas season, on-line sales boosted revenues US$300 000.

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OneSoft now has an ongoing consulting job with ePhones. Recently, OneSoft wrote new business rules that enabled the addition of pagers, cellular modems, phone accessories, DSL and long-distance services to ePhones' product line. The addition of 220 e-franchisers also created new opportunities for both firms.

"OneSoft is a true partner, meaning everything that the word implies. There's been constant communication and clear direction. Whenever we've had a need for custom work, OneSoft has been right on the spot to help us out," Yeffa says.

There have been a couple of glitches along the way, but Yeffa attributes those to the unusual requirements of ePhones' business. "The toughest thing was learning what kinds of business rules to apply to the underlying data," explains Jalakandapura. No pain means no gain, he adds. "By giving us work that's leading-edge, ePhones has been helping us to add value to our product."

EPhones also gained physical integration between click-and-mortar and its existing brick-and-mortar business model. To get guidance on products and services, ePhones salespeople and customers can access the ePhones Web site from terminals in the stores. EPhones has no plans to replace its brick-and-mortar stores with the e-site, but the stores' roles have changed a bit. "We see the stores as a strategic complement to our business. They're a nice training ground for our customer-service staff. And, frankly, operating the stores helps us to get more attractive pricing packages from the carriers," Yeffa notes.

OneSoft's versatile repertoire of software, consulting, hosting services and integration skills ensures that it'll keep the lines of communication open with customer ePhones.


At A Glance

Customer: Skyway Communications (doing business as ePhones) Fremont Calif., www.ephones.com
Size: 155 employees
Business Problem: Expansion of brick-and-mortar retail chain into click-and-mortar
Lead Partner: OneSoft, McLean, Va., www.onesoft.com
Deal Maker: Easy customization of middleware, quick time to market, scalability
Hardware: 10 PC servers
Software: OneSoft OneCommerce Enterprise Solution, SQL Server 7, running on Windows NT
Results: Sales and productivity gains, plus addition of 220 e-franchiser partners

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