The retail industry always works on razorthin margins; survival lies in optimizing time and space resources, as well as maximizing customer satisfaction. Retailer Web Services (RWS) is helping independent appliance, mattress and furniture retailers avoid disruption, succeed in business and realize their entrepreneurial dreams through industry-specific software, expertise and best practices education. The company prides itself on having a deep understanding of their customers’ customers (consumers who are shopping for appliances, mattresses and furniture for their homes). This empirical expertise allows RWS to design the right products for and be trusted advisors to their retailer customers—and to continually improve these products developed exclusively for independent retailers: RetailDeck®, WebFronts® and WebFronts® Review™.
The pull of entrepreneurship leads to RWS
James Kane, Jr. is the founder of RWS, which began fifteen years ago when he solved a problem by rolling up his sleeves and writing the code that became the first version of RetailDeck. Since then, his "home grown" technology has grown to support an entire industry of entrepreneurs across the U.S. Today, RetailDeck has more than 6,000 users and facilitates over 25,000 product searches every day.
James grew up in the small college town of Potsdam in northern New York. Eager to attend the local university where his dad was a professor, James left high school at 16 to study math and computer science at Clarkson University. While there, James’ interest in developing software solutions sparked. He built a computer algebra system, "Calculus Machina," for John Wiley & Sons. It was designed as a reference tool for students as it provided step-by-step instructions to solve calculus problems.
But the pull of entrepreneurship and his passion for aviation were too great. At 22, when most young adults are graduating from college, James was already working as a licensed pilot when he decided to return to his true calling: to design and create software solutions. He decided to sunset flying and began to search for a new concept around which to build the software company that would become RWS.
Inspired by influential leaders
Many entrepreneurs like to roll up their sleeves and look inward for the answers. But recognizing the immeasurable knowledge you can learn from people more expert than yourself can be the difference between winning and losing. This philosophy pervades the culture at RWS. At every level in the organization, employees endeaver to learn from experts such as Dr. Victoria Medvec, who has devoted her life to the science and art of negotiation, and Ron Kaufman, who inspires with his service expertise and strategies. "We read their books and watch experts like them present at conferences," said James. "We learn from their mistakes and get inspired by their triumphs. The amazing thing is they’re willing to share their expertise. At RWS, we believe great leaders are humble enough to know there’s always more to learn and driven enough to do the work of finding and applying it."
An IT and digital partner
Today, every consumer expects every store to deliver an online shopping experience that is just as convenient and just as featureful as the big boxes do. That’s why WebFronts —no matter the level—comes complete with a secure transactional shopping cart, world class product data and customized design. RWS makes it easy to start e-commerce without any risk or added fees.
With RWS as a partner, retailers don’t have to become IT firms. They don’t have to hire and pay expensive staff to create their website and execute their digital marketing. And because online security is not something to gamble with, RWS ensures retailer sites are safe, secure and compliant. This is not only a big financial savings for independent retailers, it’s also peace of mind since IT and digital are not typically their areas of expertise.
In addition, RWS keeps their retailer customers up to date through constant iteration and improvement by living their core value of Continuous Sustainable Improvement. Technology changes so fast, it would be impossible for retailers to keep up by themselves. According to one satisfied customer:
I have been very impressed with the staff at RWS. They have gone above and beyond all my expectations! I am well satisfied! – Ben Favazzo, Alliance Appliance Center, Alliance, OH
Success: Turning the impossible into a pleasure
For RWS, success is WOWING their customers by showing them how easy it is to have a professional, product-content rich, and e-commerce transactional web presence. What may have seemed overwhelming and impossible at first can actually be a pleasure to execute with the right digital partner that provides a one-on-one approach to web development and support; highly-knowledgeable, industry-specific advice; and easy e-commerce functionality.
Dedicated expertise helps retailers win
RWS professionals apply the deepest web experience in the retail industry to help more than 2,000 independent furniture, appliance and mattress retailer customers. Dedicated account managers proactively reach out to customers to ensure their sites are up to date and empowered with the latest available technologies. There’s nothing "cookie cutter" about an RWS-powered website; their creative team consists of designers with years of experience and time to connect one-on-one so retailers’ sites are highly customized by design. Further, the company’s price points and corresponding service levels offer "big box" web power for small budgets.
A recipe for continual improvement
RWS’ products are constantly evolving to take advantage of new technological developments and changing consumer preferences. Improvements are regularly iterated on or added to the 2,000 existing retailer sites on their network. However, every few years the company designs an entirely new platform around the most significant changes in tech and consumer behavior. Today’s WebFronts platform is built on the fourth generation of this process, and they are excited to be launching the fifth generation later this year. The new platform incorporates exciting new features such as pop-up cart preview and atypical hours support; improvements to product data; a cutting-edge full screen aesthetic; and powerful mobile-first capability that blends the best of the popular responsive look and the fine control of adaptive mobile technology.