Date of Award

Summer 7-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS)

First Advisor

William Figg PhD

Second Advisor

Jun Liu PhD

Third Advisor

Ahmad Al-Omari PhD

Abstract

This is a hybrid project. As a new Information Systems consultancy the need for a website to market to potential clients was evident. The decision to add an extranet site was made after specific needs for Ace Hardware were made evident to Yar’s founders. Ace Hardware Corporation is a cooperative with over 4,400 members in over 100 nations worldwide. Ace corporate rolled out a B2B pilot program in the fall of 2013 to help Ace independently owned retail stores learn how to sell to other businesses. One of YAR’s founders is currently working with Ace corporate as a program consultant for the B2B group along with four other consultants nationally. The stores have focused on the homeowner and Do It Yourself (DIY) customers for almost 90 years and see the potential in Business to Business sales. However, the stores are not prepared and need training, tools, processes, alignment, and counsel to be successful.

Ace corporate provides much of the IS infrastructure to the stores through Epicor’s ERP suite and other programs. In order for the stores to be successful they need to become competent in account management in sales and customer relationship management and a key tool for that is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool or package. SalesForce and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM are two of the most popular today. Epicor does offer CRM capabilities in their ERP suite but that is not available to the retail stores and would be extremely cost prohibitive if it was. Before the stores commit to larger and more robust CRM offerings they need a basic tool to help them learn and get the process moving.

The extranet was initiated to provide a simple, cloud based CRM tool that the stores could utilize as they begin to build the B2B segment in their stores. Because it is cloud based the stores can all participate with the same tool instead of incurring the cost of having to individually find and purchase off the shelf CRM software or have it custom built by a local developer. They will have to purchase cloud storage, administration fees, and maintenance costs but all those will be a fraction of buying Epicor’s offering and much less than off the shelf or local developer options.

The stores from the Houston retailer group that are participating are encouraged at the prospect of finally having a CRM solution even if it is in trial stages and are beginning to engage their B2B program more assertively. As the extranet is accepted integration with Epicor will have to occur at a later date in order to feed the CRM tool with the stores POS data currently being gathered so as to prevent double entry labor.

Share

COinS