Newcastle-based manufacturer Varley Group sought assistance from Epicor in implementing an eCommerce platform that would enable it to gain a competitive advantage in the electric vehicles market.

Established in 1886, Varley is one of Australia’s oldest, most advanced engineering and manufacturing companies. The group manufactures and sells world-class custom emergency service, health, education and rescue vehicles; defence ambulances and arms storage facilities; and industrial and recreational electric vehicles. Its electric vehicles — sold under the EMC Electric Vehicles brand name — include golf carts, resort vehicles, industrial materials-handling vehicles, and utility carts, as well as parts and accessories for each vehicle type.

Facing strong competition in the electric vehicle marketplace, Varley needed to find a way to differentiate its range of vehicles and related products. Following a market review that included researching competitors in the US, the company embarked on a digital transformation project — at the centre of which was the creation of an eCommerce option to help stay ahead of the competition.

“Varley has five or six key competitors in Australia within the electric vehicle marketplace alone,” says Dean Wiggins, Marketing Coordinator at Varley Group. “So, it’s important to stay a step ahead in terms of delivering the products and services our customers need, as well as making it easy for customers to purchase from Varley.”

After deciding to trial eCommerce with EMC Electric Vehicles, Varley needed to determine what technology solution would underpin it. The business considered a number of approaches before deciding to utilise its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution — Epicor ERP. Varley already used Epicor ERP to manage daily operations across the entire business. The familiar interface and existing relationship with both Epicor and its local partner BISCit contributed to Varley’s decision to stick with Epicor ERP, which had already delivered results.

Epicor and BISCit recommended Epicor Commerce Connect, a solution that integrates Epicor ERP with Magento, a leading eCommerce platform. Epicor Commerce Connect lets customers develop quickly, and they can be managed easily. It’s fully integrated with Epicor ERP, extending Varley’s existing investment in the solution.

“There are so many options out there for eCommerce—it’s almost an endless list of considerations and potential providers,” says Wiggins. “We were already using Epicor ERP and were big fans of the system. Using it to help power the eCommerce store meant Varley could tie in the eCommerce activity with the bricks-and-mortar activity using the same system, giving us a single source of truth. This made accounting processes flow more smoothly — and so made perfect sense.

“Varley chose Magento because it works so neatly with Epicor Commerce Connect. From implementation, the impact was immediate, and we found out just how powerful and easy to use it was.”

Epicor and BISCit worked closely with Varley to ensure all requirements were met and all systems worked seamlessly together. The implementation was complete in just four months.

“BISCit was absolutely superb, managing the nuts and bolts of the Epicor Commerce Connect integration with Magento,” Wiggins recounts. “BISCit did all the coding and back-end work to ensure Magento and Commerce Connect communicated seamlessly. The process took around four months, which was very quick — given the complexity of the task.

“For example, managing payment transactions through PayPal included a complex calculation regarding the fees that needed to be paid to PayPal. We weren’t sure how to reflect that charge and ensure it was accounted for correctly, but BISCit came up with a solution that means PayPal transactions are actually the easiest ones we can put through the system.”

One of the key benefits Epicor Commerce Connect has delivered for Varley is the increased speed of transactions. The new system has also improved customer satisfaction. Varley’s customers have adapted to the new online store, and transactions have received good feedback across the board. The purchase process is smooth, so Varley is now seeing more repeat business and increased customer loyalty.

“Around 20% of our online purchases are followed up by a repeat purchase,” Wiggins adds. “The eCommerce store has enhanced our reputation in the industry, and we’re getting interesting feedback from dealers, suppliers, and even competitors saying this is a great step forward for the whole industry.”

“Traffic to the Varley website is increasing daily, which is another positive outcome. While not all customers want to purchase online, having the option makes us more responsive to customer needs.”

As part of its digital transformation project, Varley aims to increase the range of products available on its eCommerce store. The company will also build a vehicle configurator that lets customers choose options — including paint colours and optional extras— and purchase the entire vehicle online. It will be the first time Australian customers can purchase an entire vehicle online from the manufacturer.

After that, Varley will expand the online store across the entire Varley Group. This is a long-term expansion plan that will offer significant benefits to the group and bring it one step closer to its digital transformation goal.

“Many of Varley’s business units compete in industries where there is very little to differentiate the products,” says Wiggins. “Standing out by providing different purchasing options is a key part of Varley’s approach and sets us up for future growth.”