Seachem has grown from its origins as a ‘basement business’ in the town of Stone Mountain in the US State of Georgia, to become one of the world’s leading pet care brands. Manufacturing and retailing a range of specialist products that cater for every need of the hobbyist aquarium owner, Seachem products can be found in the stores of pet shops across the globe.
Seachem Laboratories Inc
"What started as something of an experiment has now become one of the most important tools that we use to help improve Seachem as a business. FileMaker gives us clarity, it gives us reach and it helps us to do a better job for our customers." says David Buck, IT manager, Seachem Laboratories Inc.
International pet care specialist Seachem becomes a mobile champion with the help of FileMaker Go
FileMaker instrumental in helping move Seachem to being a more effective mobile workforce.
- Company able to rapidly expand trial project across organisation, providing its sales-force around the world with access to the customer database.
- Manufacturing: One of the world’s leading pet care brands manufacturing and retailing a range of specialist products that cater for every need of the hobbyist aquarium owner.
- FileMaker has been instrumental in helping move Seachem to being a more effective mobile workforce.
- With so much data flowing into the Seachem system, the company has been able to create a scientific success plan for its sales team.
When David Buck joined Seachem as its IT manager almost six years ago, he knew that he was signing up with a company that had a very clear ambition. “From day one, I knew what the challenge was,” he begins. “The exec team at Seachem had a clear vision of implementing a programme that would reward the pet stores that support our brand. The only thing that was uncertain was how best to do that.”
Naturally for a company that distributes its products through retail outlets across the world, ‘on-shelf presence’ is absolutely key for Seachem. Greater visibility and range of products equals a better choice for the consumer as well as better brand awareness for the company itself.
As a result, Seachem made the decision to launch a kind of ‘loyalty’ programme with its retail partners; those stores that stocked a greater diversity of Seachem products would be rewarded with better wholesale price points and free products for use in store.
Driving loyalty, building diversity
“We created a ‘ranking’ system for our partners,” says David, “placing them into bronze, silver, gold and even platinum levels based on their commitment to the Seachem brand.” Entry into these tiers was based on the range of products stocked in each store. 50 or more different products from the Seachem range would qualify a site for a bronze ranking, 70 or more for silver, and anything upwards of 100, gold.
“The platinum tier was reserved for those stores that had already qualified as gold standard retailers and were then prepared to send two sales representatives for training at Seachem HQ in Georgia,” explains David.
“It was a great idea in principle,” he continues. “But like any great idea the real proof is in the delivery. We had a sound concept, but working out how we were going to roll that out across thousands of retailers across the world was the challenge. Clearly, we needed a technological solution that could help us make this plan a success.”
We developed an initial system and sent one of our local sales guys in Georgia out on the road with a barcode scanner and mobile device that had the FileMaker database on it.David Buck, IT manager, Seachem Laboratories Inc
The FileMaker solution:
For David, FileMaker was the logical choice to tackle some of these challenges. “I’d used it in the past,” he says, “and had found that it was just a great tool for building really effective solutions. I knew pretty much straight away that we’d be able to use it to help us administrate that loyalty scheme.”
As is to be expected from such an ambitious undertaking, Seachem had identified that the retail partner scheme was likely to have wider benefits than just being able to improve the diversity of its product line in-store. “We realised that this would also be a great way to help motivate the sales teams themselves, by giving them data on how well ‘their’ retail stores were performing” notes David.
With that in mind, David made the case for purchasing a “couple of copies” of FileMaker on a trial basis. “We developed an initial system and sent one of our local sales guys in Georgia out on the road with a barcode scanner and mobile device that had the FileMaker database on it. He visited all of the local stores that fell under his remit and scanned all the products that they were displaying.”
This ‘proof of concept’ system delivered compelling results from day one says David. “Almost immediately, we knew it was going to work. We were really quickly able to analyse those local stores and ‘rank’ them appropriately. So we took those results to our Vice President of Sales, and he gave us the go-ahead to roll the system out on a wider basis.”
Building a better business
That initial system very quickly grew into something much bigger for Seachem. With the addition of FileMaker Server, the company was able to rapidly expand the trial project across the organisation, providing its sales-force around the world with access to the customer database.
That’s had a range of positive effects for Seachem, not least on its ability to use sales data with greater clarity and greater impact. “Tracking all of the stores gives us a dual benefit,” explains David. “Firstly, we’re able to say to our sales teams ‘this is where you need to focus’. We’re able to tell them which stores need the most attention.”
“But we’re also able to say to those store owners ‘this is where you are now, you only need to stock another 10 of our products to get bronze and qualify for better rates with us. You can’t underestimate the value of that,” he continues.
Better still, thanks to the addition of FileMaker Go to Seachem’s toolkit, that data now comes through in real-time from the sales force and automatically updates the company’s server database.
“Again, it’s a two-way process,” says David. “With FileMaker Go installed on everyone’s iPhone, we’re able to provide the sales teams across the globe with a list of priority customers that they need to call every month. Once they’ve made that call, they can cross it off of their list on the system and make short note of how it went. That information then goes straight back to the database and helps us track their performance too.”
In an echo of Seachem’s loyalty scheme, the company has been able to create an overall ‘league table’ of performance for the sales team. “FileMaker helps us track everything from the number of store visits they make to which customers they’re calling, as well as sales results, so we’re able to provide monthly performance figures. Everyone has really got behind that, and the competition to be number one can get pretty fierce – but that’s great for the business!”
David says that FileMaker has been instrumental in helping move Seachem to being a more effective mobile workforce. “We’ve always run our business on Apple technology, and the way that FileMaker works on the iPhone and on the MacBook Airs that our sales team use is just fantastic.”
“It really takes the hard work out of sharing data for them – they’re able to press a few buttons and then they can share a series of beautiful looking charts and tables with their retail customers. The sales team love it, and the storeowners love it. Everyone’s working together better, and that’s phenomenal,” he concludes.
- CRM on the Go – Alongside everything else that FileMaker is doing for Seachem, the company has also created a mobile CRM system within it. Integrating with Google Maps™, sales reps visiting a location are able to quickly see all Seachem partner stores in that area, helping them to plan everything from their sales schedule to their hotel booking and become more efficient.
- Product practicalities – FileMaker also helps Seachem keep track of its product performance. If one product in particular is proving not to be popular in the retail outlets, Seachem is quickly able to pinpoint it and find out why.
- A rationale for success – With so much data flowing into the Seachem system, the company has been able to create a scientific success plan for its sales team. By looking at the actions of the company’s best performers, Seachem is able to provide training and feedback to help up the whole team’s game.