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As a global leader in unbranded apparel, Next Level was looking to transform their website with full Adobe Commerce (Magento) B2B functionality. This meant integrating an ERP specifically designed for the apparel industry with automated shipping functionality. A clever product matrix needed to be custom developed to properly showcase the sophisticated warehouse network across the US.
Based in California, Next Level Apparel is an industry-leading clothing wholesaler with innovative fabric blends and combed ring-spun cotton fabrics. For over 12 years the distribution network, including over 28 locations, brings some of the most popular fashion blank tees and sweaters to retailers across the globe. As a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the WRAP certified (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) factories are committed to the highest ethical standards of conduct and best quality practices which sets the brand apart in recognition of the commitment and diligence to social responsibility and compliance.
Guidance upgraded Next Level from Magento 1’s sunset to Magento 2 Commerce Cloud (Adobe Commerce) to take advantage of ongoing Adobe security and infrastructure maintenance. The replatform has provided best-in-class B2B functionality and cloud delivered scalability to grow Next Level’s omnichannel product distribution and sales exponentially. Magento’s (Adobe Commerce) cloud-based solution provides a reliable Amazon Web Service (AWS) environment that supports any size of ecommerce deployment.
The new platform offers continuous delivery of cloud-based services with the benefit of instant access to the latest software version, infrastructure improvements and functionality. Extensions like Fastly CDN and ElasticSearch and the cloud architecture will simplify scaling of the environment services as needed. Fastly CDN (Content Delivery Network) was chosen for its world-class dynamic site acceleration so desktop and mobile content is served seamlessly to the customer with no disruptions in load speed.
By migrating to Magento 2 (Adobe Commerce), Next Level can now fully benefit from all the B2B functionality that was not available in the Magento 1 version of their website. The B2B module enhancements give wholesale companies more control of their accounts as well as the ability to associate additional users with the parent company accounts. Company admins are then able to assign permission levels to the associated child accounts. The migration to Magento 2 has also given Next Level the opportunity to heavily expand their account creation process into a robust and completely automated process. This has saved countless hours of manual data entry and paperwork for their employees and has heightened security on all levels of the account creation cycle.
Adobe Commerce (Magento) B2B module enhancements give Next Level more control of their accounts as well as the ability to associate additional users with the parent company accounts.
A large part of the replatform meant migrating the existing customer information to ensure a seamless transition. The migration was large and had to be finished quickly to ensure zero downtime visible to customers. Guidance migrated Next Level’s records to Magento 2 which included customer information, prior purchases, browsing history along with many other data points. The entire migration was seamless with zero downtime and without impact to the end customer.
Guidance firmly believes that while B2B is a unique website experience, it should never result in poor user experience and the end user (humans) should always be kept in mind when developing the best brand experience. Customer experience is key for B2C as it often focuses on user experience and user interface elements of design, speed and functionality. B2B ecommerce requires all these features and more as B2B customers often represent mixed buying groups with multiple stakeholders and different negotiated price points assigned to each account. Next Level’s website provides a professional experience further enhanced by features like “Shop by Color” (loved by many customers).
A company is only as good as its products and without product visibility, it would be difficult to sell what is not found. To solve this, Guidance created a sophisticated product matrix table that visualizes all selected product sizes, inventory, backorder status, pricing and even warehouse location. Customers are given the freedom to build their shopping carts with this highly visual tool. At checkout, customers are able to split their order based on warehouse location and payment options thereby reducing shipping times and costs.Furthermore, customers can use their own shipping account (with its own negotiated rates) and thereby save even more on the shipping costs. This highly specific inventory and multi-warehouse product sourcing complemented by unique checkout flow to improve shopping and purchase experience has made Next Level a stand out B2B website in the apparel industry.
Created specifically for companies in the apparel, footwear, and accessories industries, Full Circle’s ERP is proven to accelerate business performance without the hassle and cost of management system upgrades. Full Circle handles every aspect of the company’s operations, including supply chain management, production administration (including purchasing, manufacturing, and trafficking) and distribution of finished products to customers. The ERP uses a proprietary system of text and FTP transfers that ensures absolute security of information on import and export of files. The solution is as close to real-time as possible and defines Next Level’s source of inventory truth.
Guidance ensured Next Level’s Full Circle ERP solution is fully synced with every part of the company’s online and offline business operations. As a result, Next Level has been able to improve business processes, reduce duplicative effort and strengthen internal and external communication. A huge feature enhancement, based on Guidance’s custom coding, has been the ability to use a new backorder functionality. Apparel can be added to cart and ordered but the payment is reserved until the product is fully shipped. Furthermore, Guidance enhanced the FullCircle shipping module to map all Shipper HQ method codes to Full Circle codes and vice versa.
A major frustration for any customer is an incomplete total at checkout, especially when it relates to shipping costs. Next Level’s product assortment ranges from small parcel items to bulk orders and shipping rate calculations were a huge pain point for the company as all costs were historically assigned manually. The ShipperHQ integration has completely eliminated the complexity and burden of shipping calculations. ShipperHQ optimizes the built-in Magento (Adobe Commerce) checkout experience with flexible shipping rates and delivery options completely tailored to the customer profile. This has meant reduced cart abandonment and dramatically diminishes the shipping costs to Next Level as each weight/dimension error results in fees to the merchant.
Guidance integrated the ShipperHQ solution to give Next Level customers granular shipping estimates on all orders. Magento (Adobe Commerce) provides a native integration to ShipperHQ which gives merchants a customizable, accurate and powerful shipping solution without the need for custom development. Deploying ShipperHQ has meant an increase in shipment rate accuracy for even the most complex orders and the creation of shipping rules and restrictions for products, carriers and shipping methods. Next Level can now establish shipping rates by geographic zones, cart quantities and specific customers at the account level. It enables table rates, flat rate shipping, in-store pickup and dimensional weight-based costs.
Customer relationships are key to B2B companies and communication fosters strong ties to loyal customers. One of the hesitations around removing manual processes and replacing them with automation is the lack of person to person interactions. However, with LiveChat, Next Level can communicate directly with its customers through helpdesk and chatbot functionality. Communication has become more efficient and customer satisfaction rates have improved dramatically. It works with existing email addresses, social media accounts, SMS/Voice numbers and comes with built-in live chat, pre-built chatbots, co-browsing, status page, and FAQ features. LiveChat is a customer messaging platform designed to provide incredible customer service at every digital touchpoint.
Guidance transformed Next Level’s once manually managed apparel business to a fully automated and well-oiled machine.
Through the integration of an apparel-specific ERP and a newly implemented shipping automation solution, Next Level has seen dramatically positive shifts in their business while decreasing wasted man hours spent on repetitive manual tasks.
Next Level, the global leader in white-label apparel, has seen a true manual-to-automated digital transformation as a result of their engagement with Guidance. Through the integration of an industry-specific ERP and an automated shipping solution, Next Level has realized a dramatic upswing in sales as a result of the decreased manual intervention involved with each order.
The new, custom built product matrix has given Next Level the opportunity to showcase their large network of warehouses across the nation with full insight into inventory, shipping times and prices.