Country or Region: United States
Nashville-based United Methodist Communications is the global communications agency for The United Methodist Church, which has more than 11.5 million members internationally and 8.1 million members in the U.S. With about 35,000 churches, it is the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. UMCom.org is the information and ecommerce site for United Methodist
United Methodist Communications' previous UMCom.org e-commerce website did not have the functionality it needed to manage its diverse storefronts and user base. United
Methodist Communications needed a flexible and user-friendly site that would automate many processes that were being done manually.
United Methodist Communications chose Ignify, which has an office in Nashville, to implement the Ignify eCommerce system, providing UMCom.org with the flexibility,
customizability, and scalability needed to integrate processes and share information from the front-end stores to a centralized back office.
- Better customer service with faster order processing
- New stores each with new look and feel, providing customers with unique shopping experiences
- Increased operational efficiency and selfservice
"Ignify eCommerce solution has rich functionality and proven ability to deliver large volume transactions in an integrated environment. The company also has extensive experience in Microsoft Dynamics, including Great Plains. These items were critical in our selection process."
- Bruce Bonner, Development Manager, United Methodist Communications
"With over 150 deployments, Ignify was well-prepared to solve United Methodist Communations' ecommerce challenges. We are proud to have been chosen to improve online customer service for United Methodist churches, members and employees worldwide."
- Sandeep Walia, President & CEO of Ignify
"We drafted a set of functional requirements from the
user perspective that would ultimately drive the selection of a vendor partner. We were impressed by how Ignify was able to meet our complex requirements at an affordable price point."
- Sean McAtee, TechshopDirector, United Methodist Communications
United Methodist Communications, the international communications agency for the 11.5-million-member United Methodist Church, needed to update its e-commerce website, UMCom.org. After a detailed and careful selection process, United Methodist Communications chose Ignify eCommerce for its flexibility, customizability, and integration with its existing ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics GP. With Ignify eCommerce, United Methodist Communications was able to manage its various storefronts in order to give each its own look and feel. United Methodist Communications was also able to integrate its back office systems, Microsoft Dynamics GP and its CRM system, with its front-end websites, allowing for real-time exchange of information. With all these improvements in website functionality, United Methodist Communications was able to continue the growth and importance of UMCom.org as its central online e-commerce hub for its ministry.
As the communications agency for the 11.5 million member United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications works to convey information about the denomination to a large global audience. "It's important that we use technology effectively to expand the church's reach around the world. As the denomination's leader into the digital age, we must ensure that our Internet presence is easily accessible and user-friendly," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, the agency's top executive. "Our agency website is an integral part of our communications operation." UMCom.org serves as the agency's primary information site and online store. While United Methodist Communications already had an e-commerce site, launched in 2004, it was slow and incapable of managing increased visitors or business. The technology was dated and clunky, operations were technical and difficult to change, and the site could only support a limited product catalog. Also, while the previous site had integrated somewhat with the ERP system, there was no way for United Methodist Communications to easily manage orders once they had been placed, such as
when employees needed to identify problems and fix orders by line item. "Although the system in the past worked, you had to jump though many hoops," said technology director Danny Mai. United Methodist Communications sought a solution for UMCom.org that could easily update both the customer and operational experience.
United Methodist Communications initiated an extensive RFP process in which they reviewed proposals from 15 e-commerce vendors. Ignify's eCommerce solution was selected, after much analysis, for its flexibility and customizability. Ignify eCommerce also integrated with UMCom.org's ERP system Microsoft Dynamics GP, as well as its CRM system. Ignify was also able to leverage its presence in Nashville, Tennessee-close to one of the United Methodist Church's largest administrative offices as well as the headquarters for UMCom.org-to provide near-site support to the client both during the project and especially around the go-live and stabilization phases of the project.
Ignify deployed its eCommerce solution to a newly designed user interface, and automated and integrated as much as possible with the accounting system. Ignify leveraged a Microsoft Sharepoint-based project collaboration portal, helping to streamline the communication processes. With the experience that comes from deploying eCommerce at over 150 companies, Ignify was able to add value by bringing new features such as "Best Sellers" and "Featured Products" to United Methodist Communications. "The store manager and marketing module increased the
manageability of our products. That's been huge," said Sean McAtee, technology procurement director for United Methodist Communications. "We are able to control how our products are portrayed to our customers. Multiple images, coupon codes, videos, and cross-selling are all new features to us."
Ignify eCommerce has six modules that allow customers to the perfect ecommerce solution that fits their needs:
- Core Module, which includes one storefront as well as fraud detection and real-time reporting
- Merchandising Management Module
- ERP Integration (Basic) Module
- ERP Integration (Advanced) Module
- Business to Business Customer and Reseller Management Module
- Marking and Promotions Management Module
United Methodist Communications chose to implement all six Ignify eCommerce modules. "Ignify's eCommerce solution has rich functionality and proven ability to deliver large volume transactions in an integrated environment,"said Bruce Bonner, United Methodist Communications development manager. "The company also has extensive experience in Microsoft Dynamics, including
GP. These items were critical in our selection process and will serve to benefit our global experience."
New Store Look and Feel
Part of United Methodist Communications’ site overhaul included a new design for its various sites and storefronts. Ignify worked with United Methodist Communications’ branding vendor to ensure that both the websites' look and feel as well as their functionality remained unchanged. In order to achieve this, Ignify made sure its code allowed for separation between these two aspects.
A more streamlined look and feel was also needed for back-end system administration. The United Methodist Communications staff now has web-based access to the back-office
management system, including an easy-view dashboard, which offers a snapshot of current order statuses. This back-end management system is user-friendly; members of the staff can quickly pull up customer or order reports by using clearly marked tabs.
Automated Integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP
One of Ignify eCommerce’s key advantages is its out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems. As a Gold Certified Microsoft Business Solutions partner, Ignify
has the knowledge needed to ensure detailoriented, full integration with ERP systems. United Methodist Communications was already using Microsoft Dynamics GP for its sales order, inventory, and pricing management. Ignify eCommerce integrated these processes with their front-end stores, allowing for two-way, automated, near-realtime information exchange.
United Methodist Communications chose to implement both the basic and advanced ERP integration modules of Ignify eCommerce. With the basic module, Ignify was able to pull
sales order, shipment, inventory, and pricing from Microsoft Dynamics GP. The advanced module allowed for the two-way integration with UMCom.org and Microsoft Dynamics GP
for invoicing, shipment, and payment information. Using eConnect and an Ignify order pipeline management system, Ignify eCommerce integrates with Microsoft Dynamics GP to send sales orders from eCommerce into Microsoft Dynamics GP and to update eCommerce if any records in Microsoft Dynamics GP have changed. Ignify was able to validate integrity of sales orders
and reports any errors as well as maintains a list of records that have been changed or added to Microsoft Dynamics GP. Any changes to Item pricing, inventory quantity,
and invoices are integrated from Microsoft Dynamics GP into Ignify eCommerce.
Automated Integration with CRM System
In addition to back-end ERP integration, Ignify eCommerce also allows for automated integration with a customer's CRM system. United Methodist Communications maintains its master customer database exclusively in a separate CRM system, so it was important to have integration between the CRM with Ignify eCommerce as well as Microsoft Dynamics GP. With the integration of its ecommerce and CRM systems, United Methodist Communications was able to keep track of customers who registered at their storefront sites. Returning customers who logged in could be validated by United Methodist Communications' customer database. As a result, United Methodist Communications was able to provide faster, more automated service to these customers, keep track of their customers' characteristics, and expand its user base. In addition, with its cookiebased system, Ignify eCommerce-powered UMCom.org is able to provide each visitor with a unique shopping experience based on customer class information found in the CRM system.
Automated Credit Card Charging
Ignify eCommerce also integrated order processing with United Methodist Communications' credit card processor, Payflow Pro from Paypal. With the integration, a credit card order placed through UMCom.org is authorized for approval when the order is placed. The authorization code and credit card details travel with the sales order from Ignify eCommerce into Microsoft
Dynamics GP. The card is then charged when the order is shipped to the customer.
These functionalities increased UMCom.org's efficiency, ROI, and customer service. "This is a better website for our customers, and overall it has made all our processes easier," says Danny Mai. "Our store managers are able to upload to the site day-to-day and add text and pictures, so that the technology team can focus on the technical aspects of the system. The customer receives the benefits of the streamlined processes and has a better shopping experience." This has resulted in an increase in online orders, which reduces the time spent by the customer service department helping customers confused by the online ordering process. In addition, site administrators and store managers can easily update and monitor online transactions, which now require less management by United Methodist Communications employees and less oversight by the IT department.
For More Information
For more information about The United Methodist Church and United Methodist Communications, call (800) 251-8140 or visit www.UMC.org and www.UMCom.org.
For more information about Ignify products and services, call 1 (888) IGNIFY5 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Web site at: www.ignify.com
For more information about Ignify eCommerce visit www.Ignify.com/eCommerce