How American Meadows Handled Surging Demand Using Acumatica ERP

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Isaac Herman

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How American Meadows Handled Surging Demand Using Acumatica ERP

28/07/2020 Categories: ARTICLES

About American Meadows: American Meadows (AMI) has been a popular online retailer of wildflower seeds, perennials, flower bulbs, and vegetable seeds since 1981. With nearly 15,000 gardeners visiting their website daily, AMI is a trusted partner to all their customers, whether they are gardening novices or horticulture experts. The Challenge: AMI was looking for a modern combo back-office / fulfillment / ERP solution that would meet the dynamic needs of their business while seamlessly integrating with their pre-existing Magento eCommerce sites. Their main objective was for the ERP to be their primary system of record (a single source of truth) and have the capabilities to consume data from external tools like Magento, or any future potential additional extension integrations. They also requested that the ERP connect to external tools via API to collect or provide data to those tools in near real-time. They wanted to improve their ability to fulfill and ship while maintaining corresponding accurate data between both front-facing and back-office-facing platforms.  The diagram below demonstrates the data sync between the new ERP and Magento: Requirements for the implementation touched on nearly every department of the company, broken down as follows:  Customer Management AMI needed to improve how they tracked visitor actions on their site, then utilize that information to create active promotions and find new leads. To do this, they needed a new Customer Management System (CMS), since Response (their previous CMS/ERP) was not up to the challenge. The new CMS required the following features: The ability to add new contacts as “leads” and import those leads into their email marketing database.  Tools to create loyalty programs for frequent customers. Tracking for the effectiveness of promotions. Integrated reporting modules that provide actionable insights based on the success of each promotion.  Warehouse Management/Shipping One of the biggest challenges AMI faced was warehouse management. They were shipping from four warehouses: one at AMI, plus three external warehouses provided by 3rd-party logistics firms (3PLs). To avoid double-shipping or any out-of-stock situations, they needed the warehouses to pull orders from the new ERP, maintain the product bin locations, and update inventory automatically.  Additional needs included: Drop-ship designation: The ability to label and track product orders designated for drop-shipping in the ERP. Each of the three external warehouses functioned as drop-ship locations.  Item kitting: The seeds and flowers that AMI received from its supplies were being inventoried in pounds, then sold in ounces. Their goal was to make sure the new ERP would automatically convert the inventoried merchandise from pounds to ounces when it came time for the product kits to be assembled in the warehouse. Otherwise, their customers would receive way more than they bargained for.   Managing ship orders based on custom logic: AMI needed the ability to tap into shipping system logic via an API to determine optimal shipping date and shipping method. AMI had special input data points on their products, and they wanted to use them to determine the order in which their products and kits would ship: Hardiness growing zones: These are environments and climates in which certain plant types thrive the most. This data factored into how quickly AMI needed to ship specific seeds since weather conditions were liable to change in each delivery location. Thus, these plants, seeds, or bulbs would need to get to their destinations faster.  Product category: Different product categories needed different shipping rules and logic. For example, seed packets must be packed and shipped differently from flower bulbs, and both must be shipped differently from gardening tools.  Transit Time: Products with longer transit times needed to get bumped up to the front of the shipping queue. Bin locations: These defined which warehouses held the requested products and how that warehouse location would make shipping easier or more difficult.  AMI’s goal for all these data points was to use them to create an automated logic that dictated the order in which products were pulled and shipped. Since AMI’s previous ERP was unable to develop the necessary shipping logic based on the above data, they needed a new ERP that could. Acumatica fit the bill.  Payment Processing American Meadows needed to host the payment gateway on their ERP instead of the Magento webpage for increased security. Feature requests for the new payment gateway included:  One-pass order processing in which the credit card is charged at the time of order rather than at the time of shipping. The purchase becomes classified as a liability until the product ships, at which point the payment gets classified as revenue.  Integration with credit card processor(s) and AMI’s payment gateway, Authorize.Net.  PayPal integration and other “wallet” services (including Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc.). AMI’s legacy ERP could not issue credits electronically back through PayPal. AML wanted to use one that could. The Solution: Kensium advised addressing all these issues with a full implementation of Acumatica Cloud ERP paired with the Acumatica-Magento Connector. Acumatica is an ERP that delivers a suite of fully integrated business management applications, powered by a robust and flexible platform. All Acumatica application modules are web-based, fully integrated, and work on a centralized database. The apps can be accessed

daily, AMI is a trusted partner to all their customers, whether they are gardening novices or horticulture experts.

The Challenge:

AMI was looking for a modern combo back-office / fulfillment / ERP solution that would meet the dynamic needs of their business while seamlessly integrating with their pre-existing Magento eCommerce sites. Their main objective was for the ERP to be their primary system of record (a single source of truth) and have the capabilities to consume data from external tools like Magento, or any future potential additional extension integrations. They also requested that the ERP connect to external tools via API to collect or provide data to those tools in near real-time. They wanted to improve their ability to fulfill and ship while maintaining corresponding accurate data between both front-facing and back-office-facing platforms. 

The diagram below demonstrates the data sync between the new ERP and Magento:

magento acumatica sync

Requirements for the implementation touched on nearly every department of the company, broken down as follows: 

happy lady

Customer Management

AMI needed to improve how they tracked visitor actions on their site, then utilize that information to create active promotions and find new leads. To do this, they needed a new Customer Management System (CMS), since Response (their previous CMS/ERP) was not up to the challenge. The new CMS required the following features:

  • The ability to add new contacts as “leads” and import those leads into their email marketing database. 
  • Tools to create loyalty programs for frequent customers.
  • Tracking for the effectiveness of promotions.
  • Integrated reporting modules that provide actionable insights based on the success of each promotion. 

flower shipping

Warehouse Management/Shipping

One of the biggest challenges AMI faced was warehouse management. They were shipping from four warehouses: one at AMI, plus three external warehouses provided by 3rd-party logistics firms (3PLs). To avoid double-shipping or any out-of-stock situations, they needed the warehouses to pull orders from the new ERP, maintain the product bin locations, and update inventory automatically. 
Additional needs included:

  • Drop-ship designation: The ability to label and track product orders designated for drop-shipping in the ERP. Each of the three external warehouses functioned as drop-ship locations. 
  • Item kitting: The seeds and flowers that AMI received from its supplies were being inventoried in pounds, then sold in ounces. Their goal was to make sure the new ERP would automatically convert the inventoried merchandise from pounds to ounces when it came time for the product kits to be assembled in the warehouse. Otherwise, their customers would receive way more than they bargained for.  
  • Managing ship orders based on custom logic: AMI needed the ability to tap into shipping system logic via an API to determine optimal shipping date and shipping method. AMI had special input data points on their products, and they wanted to use them to determine the order in which their products and kits would ship:
    • Hardiness growing zones: These are environments and climates in which certain plant types thrive the most. This data factored into how quickly AMI needed to ship specific seeds since weather conditions were liable to change in each delivery location. Thus, these plants, seeds, or bulbs would need to get to their destinations faster. 
    • Product category: Different product categories needed different shipping rules and logic. For example, seed packets must be packed and shipped differently from flower bulbs, and both must be shipped differently from gardening tools. 
    • Transit Time: Products with longer transit times needed to get bumped up to the front of the shipping queue.
    • Bin locations: These defined which warehouses held the requested products and how that warehouse location would make shipping easier or more difficult. 

AMI’s goal for all these data points was to use them to create an automated logic that dictated the order in which products were pulled and shipped. Since AMI’s previous ERP was unable to develop the necessary shipping logic based on the above data, they needed a new ERP that could. Acumatica fit the bill.

ipad shopping

 Payment Processing

American Meadows needed to host the payment gateway on their ERP instead of the Magento webpage for increased security. Feature requests for the new payment gateway included: 

  • One-pass order processing in which the credit card is charged at the time of order rather than at the time of shipping. The purchase becomes classified as a liability until the product ships, at which point the payment gets classified as revenue. 
  • Integration with credit card processor(s) and AMI’s payment gateway, Authorize.Net. 
  • PayPal integration and other “wallet” services (including Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc.).
  • AMI’s legacy ERP could not issue credits electronically back through PayPal. AML wanted to use one that could.

The Solution:

Kensium advised addressing all these issues with a full implementation of Acumatica Cloud ERP paired with the Acumatica-Magento Connector. Acumatica is an ERP that delivers a suite of fully integrated business management applications, powered by a robust and flexible platform. All Acumatica application modules are web-based, fully integrated, and work on a centralized database. The apps can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and on any device. 

Here’s a breakdown of precisely what Kensium implemented to address all the issues outlined: 

customer service lady

Customer Management Module

Kensium has implemented the Acumatica Customer Management Module, which delivers a CMS that automates sales processes and reporting. AMI can now create new leads based on automated consolidation of customer data as well as construct targeted marketing campaigns.

  • We have also included the Acumatica CMS email add-on, which integrates with incoming and outgoing emails. It searches for existing leads, contacts, and employees in the CMS then allows 1-click access to the desired contact. Salespeople and customer service reps (CSR’s) are now able to create new leads and contacts right from their inboxes, develop opportunities and cases associated with existing contacts, and log activity and attach email contents to the CMS database.
  • This module provides a consolidated view of all customer records in a single database, so they have the data they need to identify their most frequent customers and initiate marketing their loyalty program to them. 
  • The reporting modules included with this app allow AMI to track the effectiveness of promotions on their customers. 

flower shipping

Distribution Module

To address AMI’s warehousing and shipping needs, Kensium has implemented Acumatica’s Distribution Module, which includes the Warehouse Management System. This system contains integrated inventory management that identifies in-stock and out-of-stock items across multiple facilities. These features make it perfect for handling inventory across AMI’s multiple warehouses. 
This implementation allows AMI’s warehouse operations to follow newly defined shipping logic. The module also syncs with the company’s financial and sales systems, keeping inventory records consistently accurate across all departments. 

For AMI’s other requests, Kensium has added a few key customizations: 

  • Drop-ship Inventory: This customization ensures that AMI will now be able to label and track product orders that need to be drop-shipped from one of their three external warehouses. Drop-shipping gives them the ability to sell and ship inventory AMI doesn’t necessarily “own”; they can now hold the stock to show availability while keeping the products at the vendor location. 
  • Integration with Shipping Details plugin: This integration syncs all shipping data with the Shipping Details plugin, so there is no need for manual data entry. This shipping data also contains the parameters that dictate the order in which batches ship. Additionally, AMI can use this data in their shipping system logic via an API to determine optimal shipping dates and methods. 

check savings

Payment Gateways

Kensium has implemented a payment gateway powered by Comodo that utilizes one-pass order processing, integration with credit card processors (and their gateways), and allows for PayPal integration and other “wallet” services. They can also now issue credit electronically back through PayPal. Payment is synced with their Magento platform so that a payment token records in both Magento and Acumatica. Which brings us to the final implementation, and the one that ties everything together: 

acumatica magento connector

 

The Acumatica-Magento Connector

This powerful integration boosts the connection between AMI’s Magento website and its new Acumatica ERP, enabling data sync between both platforms in real-time. Unifying product, customer, and order processes with one integration means that AMI now has a single source of truth for their eCommerce business. Order data is pushed to all their back-office systems, eliminating the need for employees to manually enter the same information in multiple places, reducing error and adding efficiencies.

sync diagram

The Numbers:

The COVID-19 pandemic has directly led to an increase in AMI’s sales, due to an interesting “hobby effect” created by the nationwide stay-at-home orders. People have been looking for ways to stay occupied around the house, and gardening fits that niche like a glove. Right after the stay-at-home orders were announced at the end of March, there was an 89% spike in national gardening and nursery sales compared to March 2019.  

AMI saw a significant increase in transactions and revenue, even selling out their inventory at one point. AMI was able to handle the increased demand with barely any issues, and we believe our comprehensive Acumatica implementation ensured everything ran smoothly. 

american meadows stats

AMI experienced a fast and effective implementation that got their team ready to handle the increased demand of the 2020 peak season: 

flower lady

The Takeaway:

As a result, AMI’s sales are strong as ever while simultaneously experiencing smooth fulfillment processes. Acumatica’s distribution module has resolved AMI’s warehouse and shipping issues by vastly improving their ability to manage inventory control and drop-shipping. Back-end processes are now much more efficient. The Acumatica-Magento Connector syncs inventory data automatically so that customers can now see if products are available or not in real-time on the website, improving sales, repeat business, and customer loyalty.

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american meadow staff

About American Meadows:

American Meadows (AMI) has been a popular online retailer of wildflower seeds, perennials, flower bulbs, and vegetable seeds since 1981. With nearly 15,000 gardeners visiting their website daily, AMI is a trusted partner to all their customers, whether they are gardening novices or horticulture experts.

The Challenge:

AMI was looking for a modern combo back-office / fulfillment / ERP solution that would meet the dynamic needs of their business while seamlessly integrating with their pre-existing Magento eCommerce sites. Their main objective was for the ERP to be their primary system of record (a single source of truth) and have the capabilities to consume data from external tools like Magento, or any future potential additional extension integrations. They also requested that the ERP connect to external tools via API to collect or provide data to those tools in near real-time. They wanted to improve their ability to fulfill and ship while maintaining corresponding accurate data between both front-facing and back-office-facing platforms. 

The diagram below demonstrates the data sync between the new ERP and Magento:

magento acumatica sync

Requirements for the implementation touched on nearly every department of the company, broken down as follows: 

happy lady

Customer Management

AMI needed to improve how they tracked visitor actions on their site, then utilize that information to create active promotions and find new leads. To do this, they needed a new Customer Management System (CMS), since Response (their previous CMS/ERP) was not up to the challenge. The new CMS required the following features:

  • The ability to add new contacts as “leads” and import those leads into their email marketing database. 
  • Tools to create loyalty programs for frequent customers.
  • Tracking for the effectiveness of promotions.
  • Integrated reporting modules that provide actionable insights based on the success of each promotion. 

flower shipping

Warehouse Management/Shipping

One of the biggest challenges AMI faced was warehouse management. They were shipping from four warehouses: one at AMI, plus three external warehouses provided by 3rd-party logistics firms (3PLs). To avoid double-shipping or any out-of-stock situations, they needed the warehouses to pull orders from the new ERP, maintain the product bin locations, and update inventory automatically. 
Additional needs included:

  • Drop-ship designation: The ability to label and track product orders designated for drop-shipping in the ERP. Each of the three external warehouses functioned as drop-ship locations. 
  • Item kitting: The seeds and flowers that AMI received from its supplies were being inventoried in pounds, then sold in ounces. Their goal was to make sure the new ERP would automatically convert the inventoried merchandise from pounds to ounces when it came time for the product kits to be assembled in the warehouse. Otherwise, their customers would receive way more than they bargained for.  
  • Managing ship orders based on custom logic: AMI needed the ability to tap into shipping system logic via an API to determine optimal shipping date and shipping method. AMI had special input data points on their products, and they wanted to use them to determine the order in which their products and kits would ship:
    • Hardiness growing zones: These are environments and climates in which certain plant types thrive the most. This data factored into how quickly AMI needed to ship specific seeds since weather conditions were liable to change in each delivery location. Thus, these plants, seeds, or bulbs would need to get to their destinations faster. 
    • Product category: Different product categories needed different shipping rules and logic. For example, seed packets must be packed and shipped differently from flower bulbs, and both must be shipped differently from gardening tools. 
    • Transit Time: Products with longer transit times needed to get bumped up to the front of the shipping queue.
    • Bin locations: These defined which warehouses held the requested products and how that warehouse location would make shipping easier or more difficult. 

AMI’s goal for all these data points was to use them to create an automated logic that dictated the order in which products were pulled and shipped. Since AMI’s previous ERP was unable to develop the necessary shipping logic based on the above data, they needed a new ERP that could. Acumatica fit the bill.

ipad shopping

 Payment Processing

American Meadows needed to host the payment gateway on their ERP instead of the Magento webpage for increased security. Feature requests for the new payment gateway included: 

  • One-pass order processing in which the credit card is charged at the time of order rather than at the time of shipping. The purchase becomes classified as a liability until the product ships, at which point the payment gets classified as revenue. 
  • Integration with credit card processor(s) and AMI’s payment gateway, Authorize.Net. 
  • PayPal integration and other “wallet” services (including Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc.).
  • AMI’s legacy ERP could not issue credits electronically back through PayPal. AML wanted to use one that could.

The Solution:

Kensium advised addressing all these issues with a full implementation of Acumatica Cloud ERP paired with the Acumatica-Magento Connector. Acumatica is an ERP that delivers a suite of fully integrated business management applications, powered by a robust and flexible platform. All Acumatica application modules are web-based, fully integrated, and work on a centralized database. The apps can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and on any device. 

Here’s a breakdown of precisely what Kensium implemented to address all the issues outlined: 

customer service lady

Customer Management Module

Kensium has implemented the Acumatica Customer Management Module, which delivers a CMS that automates sales processes and reporting. AMI can now create new leads based on automated consolidation of customer data as well as construct targeted marketing campaigns.

  • We have also included the Acumatica CMS email add-on, which integrates with incoming and outgoing emails. It searches for existing leads, contacts, and employees in the CMS then allows 1-click access to the desired contact. Salespeople and customer service reps (CSR’s) are now able to create new leads and contacts right from their inboxes, develop opportunities and cases associated with existing contacts, and log activity and attach email contents to the CMS database.
  • This module provides a consolidated view of all customer records in a single database, so they have the data they need to identify their most frequent customers and initiate marketing their loyalty program to them. 
  • The reporting modules included with this app allow AMI to track the effectiveness of promotions on their customers. 

flower shipping

Distribution Module

To address AMI’s warehousing and shipping needs, Kensium has implemented Acumatica’s Distribution Module, which includes the Warehouse Management System. This system contains integrated inventory management that identifies in-stock and out-of-stock items across multiple facilities. These features make it perfect for handling inventory across AMI’s multiple warehouses. 
This implementation allows AMI’s warehouse operations to follow newly defined shipping logic. The module also syncs with the company’s financial and sales systems, keeping inventory records consistently accurate across all departments. 

For AMI’s other requests, Kensium has added a few key customizations: 

  • Drop-ship Inventory: This customization ensures that AMI will now be able to label and track product orders that need to be drop-shipped from one of their three external warehouses. Drop-shipping gives them the ability to sell and ship inventory AMI doesn’t necessarily “own”; they can now hold the stock to show availability while keeping the products at the vendor location. 
  • Integration with Shipping Details plugin: This integration syncs all shipping data with the Shipping Details plugin, so there is no need for manual data entry. This shipping data also contains the parameters that dictate the order in which batches ship. Additionally, AMI can use this data in their shipping system logic via an API to determine optimal shipping dates and methods. 

check savings

Payment Gateways

Kensium has implemented a payment gateway powered by Comodo that utilizes one-pass order processing, integration with credit card processors (and their gateways), and allows for PayPal integration and other “wallet” services. They can also now issue credit electronically back through PayPal. Payment is synced with their Magento platform so that a payment token records in both Magento and Acumatica. Which brings us to the final implementation, and the one that ties everything together: 

acumatica magento connector

 

The Acumatica-Magento Connector

This powerful integration boosts the connection between AMI’s Magento website and its new Acumatica ERP, enabling data sync between both platforms in real-time. Unifying product, customer, and order processes with one integration means that AMI now has a single source of truth for their eCommerce business. Order data is pushed to all their back-office systems, eliminating the need for employees to manually enter the same information in multiple places, reducing error and adding efficiencies.

sync diagram

The Numbers:

The COVID-19 pandemic has directly led to an increase in AMI’s sales, due to an interesting “hobby effect” created by the nationwide stay-at-home orders. People have been looking for ways to stay occupied around the house, and gardening fits that niche like a glove. Right after the stay-at-home orders were announced at the end of March, there was an 89% spike in national gardening and nursery sales compared to March 2019.  

AMI saw a significant increase in transactions and revenue, even selling out their inventory at one point. AMI was able to handle the increased demand with barely any issues, and we believe our comprehensive Acumatica implementation ensured everything ran smoothly. 

american meadows stats

AMI experienced a fast and effective implementation that got their team ready to handle the increased demand of the 2020 peak season: 

flower lady

The Takeaway:

As a result, AMI’s sales are strong as ever while simultaneously experiencing smooth fulfillment processes. Acumatica’s distribution module has resolved AMI’s warehouse and shipping issues by vastly improving their ability to manage inventory control and drop-shipping. Back-end processes are now much more efficient. The Acumatica-Magento Connector syncs inventory data automatically so that customers can now see if products are available or not in real-time on the website, improving sales, repeat business, and customer loyalty.