Posted by Matt Rhodus, Vertical Market Expert for Retail, NetSuite
One man’s trash is another man’s entrepreneurial business that disrupts an industry.The story of SolidSurface.com, an innovative business that got its start in 2007 when a University professor and do-it-yourself woodworker aptly named Edwin Carpenter visited a local fabricator in Tucson, Ariz., to see if they had any spare countertop remnants lying around. In fact, the fabricator had several pallets of scrap that Carpenter was welcome to take.
Carpenter’s son, Kyle, with a technology and marketing background and his own craftsman skills, took notice. For fun and a little extra cash, Kyle began crafting the remnants into cutting boards and sold them on eBay. He quickly realized he could sell the entire remnant piece with no fabrication required, minimizing time and waste and maximizing his profits. Kyle’s technical skills enabled him to build a home-grown ecommerce website & marketing tool called www.solidsurface.com. It wasn’t long before countertop material manufacturers, distributors, and fabricators discovered the well-SEO-ranked SolidSurface.com as an avenue to move overstock and discontinued products such as DuPont Corian, LG HI-MACS, Samsung Staron, Formica, Wilsonart, and other leading brands.
“We thought, what a great opportunity to work directly with manufacturers, distributors and fabricators to sell something that would otherwise end up in a landfill, with everybody making some money as well,” said Kyle Carpenter, SolidSurface.com’s CEO and Co-Founder.
Because the pieces were large—12-foot-long, 140-pound sheets—drop-shipping directly from the suppliers made sense. That’s where the NetSuite OMX order management solution comes into play.
“We needed a solution to handle drop shipping because we wanted to automate as much of the business as we could,” Carpenter said. “NetSuite OMX was within our price point with all the functionality we needed. Most important was the fulfillment and drop-shipping support in OMX—we couldn’t find that combination of features anywhere else.”
Today, six years after implementing NetSuite OMX, SolidSurface.com is thriving with annual growth of up to 25 percent in each year since implementation and a growing line of solid surface and quartz countertop sheet material, as well as adhesives, sinks, tools and more. The company works with nearly 50 suppliers, with about 70 percent of orders drop-shipped from the suppliers. The remainder are internally warehoused and fulfilled from Tucson.
SolidSurface.com has expanded beyond its direct-to-consumer roots to serve a growing number of B2B customers in North America, including housing developments, educational institutions, hospitals and more, with orders averaging about 250 a month. Deep discounts on manufacturer overstock and discontinued goods are especially popular.
Selected over Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains), Monsoon Stone Edge and Volusion, NetSuite OMX is at the center of SolidSurface.com’s business, handling transactions with suppliers and customers, all notifications, internal fulfillment, returns and cancellations, and real-time tracking of drop-ship orders, with easy visibility to spot drop-ship delays and help ensure customer satisfaction.
“We couldn’t have grown as fast as we have without NetSuite OMX,” Carpenter said. “We automate as many processes as possible and the system allows us to do that. It’s saved us a lot of money in not needing to hire additional help.”
Integration between NetSuite OMX and SolidSurface.com’s website and its product information management system helps keep processes in sync, while Solid Surface avoids the time and expense of in-house software and servers with the cloud-based solution and its inherent security.
“There’s a trust factor in that I know the system is backing up our information so I don’t have to worry about it,” Carpenter said.