• November 8, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Pioneer Organics Delivers Fresh Customer Service

The intention of most delivery services is to strip away the stress that goes along with the shopping experience: crowded stores, the long checkout lines, sitting in traffic. But when Pioneer Organics, an organic-food home delivery service, experienced an upsurge in customer use, it needed a system that could keep up with that growth to help ensure its customers wouldn't be kept waiting. The company tapped Explore Consulting, an integrator and systems implementer, to implement a solution for the back- and front-office using the NetSuite platform. It began in April 2003, with a five-person team. According to Explore Consulting CEO Steve Jones, Pioneer selected NetSuite because of its on-demand delivery model. "Pioneer doesn't have a formal IT staff, and some of the benefit gained by bringing on the ASP model is that you are essentially alleviating yourself from having to maintain servers, do the backups, and all of the very costly things that go along with having robust business systems." Pioneer has garnered numerous other benefits, as well. The grocer has thousands of customers, and addressing their service issues via email was growing increasingly challenging. Prior to NetSuite some employees were even reporting to work during the weekend to decide what emails needed attention for the following week. Now Pioneer Organics is able to automatically handle typical customer issues. "Not only [is Pioneer] able to service its customers more efficiently, but also [the application] allows its customers to put a lot of the information into the system directly," Jones says. NetSuite's CRM module gives Pioneer Organics the ability to extend its functionality through custom fields and custom record types. "That flexibility was essential in selecting a product--having a system where you really don't have to be technical, to extend that functionality and build these custom fields and really create a model that's very well suited to your business," Jones says. "You are never going to be able to buy a piece of software off the shelf, so what we did was take advantage of NetSuite's integration technology and built a custom system that talked, essentially, back and forth with NetSuite." Pioneer Organics' refreshed focus on managing its growth using NetSuite has allowed it to expand its product lines to include dairy and meats, and to widen its customer base by 25 percent--revenues have grown between 15 percent and 20 percent. The organic grocer is also better able to handle the seasonal fluctuations associated with the produce industry. Pioneer used to experience a peak in customer levels and revenues in late May, then suffer about a 15 percent drop in business during summer months--things would pick up again in January and recover to previous levels. After implementing NetSuite, however, Pioneer experienced only a 5 percent decrease during the summer slump, with executives anticipating full recovery by early October of the same year. The icing on the cake? Pioneer Organics acquired a Portland-based company, and rolling out NetSuite to that firm took just one weekend. According to Pioneer Organics' CEO Ronny Bell, Pioneer has been able to grow systems and service to new levels using NetSuite: "We feel we've only scratched the surface of all its potential capabilities." Related articles: Growth Without the Growing Pains
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