How Ace Hardware Stores Started Using Buzzr.com

Switch from Drupal Shaves Weeks Off Time to Market

(January 25, 2012) FootSteps Marketing, whose bricks and mortar retail client-base generate $180 million in annual revenue, announced that it selected the Buzzr Enterprise Edition as its exclusive platform for creating and maintaining the next generation of online marketing websites.

Since moving this fall from Drupal to Buzzr, average time to create a new website has shrunk from three weeks to less than three days. And, FSM has been able to train its retail store clients to update sites without assistance from FSM, previously impossible when using the much more complex Drupal platform.

The companies released a Case Study today that reviews the project.

Typical clients sites created with Buzzr Enterprise Edition include TerrysAce.com, HappyCooker.ca, ChoiceBuildingSupply.com and StewartHardware.com.

The Buzzr platform, heavily customized to meet the needs of FSM, will serve as the lynchpin of the company’s strategy to expand its service offerings the retail mass market, beyond its position as the elite provider of online marketing for independent Ace Hardware stores.

The critical feature adopted by FSM is the Buzzr Quickstart system, a method of cloning starter websites with a single click. FSM has adopted four Quickstarts, two for Ace Hardware stores and two for general retailers. The Quickstarts represent typical user cases for FSM. Cloned sites are then customized per client, using the many hundreds of features offered by Buzzr.

In addition, Buzzr created and integrated two major custom features for FSM: 1) online coupon building and distribution, including limited time specials and 2) multi-store listings and location positioning on a single map.

“Our customers need many special features on their websites. So we initially chose a very powerful open source CMS – Drupal – but its complexity was slowing down site building and overwhelming clients attempting to do content updates,” says Pat Curry, President of FootSteps Marketing. “After we switched to Buzzr, we were able shave weeks off of site building. Even better, our clients can readily handle updates.”

Buzzr Enterprise Edition is a Software as a Service (“SaaS) for multi-site website creation and management, offered as a white label solution for resellers. The product is a radically streamlined version Drupal, with a proprietary drag & drop user interface, and integrates more than 100 critical modules to create a method for the rapid implementation of websites.
BEE is a private label replica of the http://Buzzr.com self-service website building platform, and can be customized to include any of the 10,000+ Drupal open source modules. It also includes a multi-site administrative control panel, a sophisticated content management system, a point & click design suite, and a close integration with social media.

“I’m really excited we were able to handle the demands of FootSteps, a highly sophisticated client.” says Ed Sussman, CEO of Buzzr . “The large majority of our work at Buzzr is directed toward our enterprise clients. I think our highly personalized services made all the difference in the case of FootSteps.”

About Buzzr.com: Started in 2008 as a partnership between elite Drupal consulting firm Lullabot, and Ed Sussman, the former president of business websites for Inc. and Fast Company, Buzzr is designed to bridge the gap between sophisticated social content management platforms and ordinary website builders. The flagship product, Buzzr Enterprise Edition is a Software as a Service multi-site CMS and design platform that offers both Drupal back-end tools for professionals and an easy-to-use front-end interface for ordinary users. More than 100,000 websites have been built with tools created by the Buzzr team.

Contact: Ed Sussman, ed@buzzr.com or 212-867-4680.

About FootSteps Marketing : FootSteps Marketing (“FSM”) started as the largest provider of websites to independent Ace Hardware stores in the United States. Its dozens of clients generate $180 million in annual revenue. Founded by five large Ace Hardware dealers, and online marketing expert Patrick Curry, FSM recently expanded its mission to include providing online marketing for all types of independent brick and mortar retailers. Its strategy is to transcend its origins as a specialty web design shop and become a mass market provider of online marketing services.

FootStepsMarketing.com

Contact Patrick Curry, pat@footstepsmarketing.com or 970-510-5233

For those unable to open the PDF of the case study, partial text is reproduced below.

FootSteps Marketing

Organization Background
_____________________________________

FootSteps Marketing (“FSM”) started as the largest provider of websites to independent Ace Hardware stores in the United States. Its dozens of clients generate $180 million in annual revenue. Founded by five large Ace Hardware dealers, and online marketing expert Patrick Curry, FSM recently expanded its mission to include providing online marketing for all types of independent brick and mortar retailers. Its strategy is to transcend its origins as a specialty web design shop and become a mass market provider of online marketing services.

Objective
____________________________________

FSM’s objective was to: 1) dramatically reduce the average build-time of three weeks to create client websites; 2) enable customers to easily handle content updates, and other website administrative tasks, without daily help from FSM; 3) lower the required skill level necessary to create and run websites; 4) maintain advanced SEO features and, sophisticated content management, such as customizing a constantly changing roster of online coupons.

FSM’s typical client generates more than $1 million in annual revenue. None have in-house expertise in online marketing, so clients require substantial guidance and support. This is FSM’s niche. FSM site building packages range from $3,000 to $6,000 (offered with monthly payment options) and support ranges from $195/mo to $595/mo. At this price point, expectations are very high. Instead of static brochure sites, FSM gained a client following by creating websites with constantly updated content to make the site attractive for repeat visitors. For example, FSM sites offer weekly coupons that could be created and viewed online, then e-mailed or printed out.

To meet these complex demands, FSM chose to create its websites with Drupal, probably the most robust content management on the market. With more than 10,000 modules and 15,000 active developers who are part of the “open source” Drupal project, it has been used to create thousands of leading enterprise websites with intense content management demands, including WhiteHouse.gov, Economist.com, and Grammy.com.

However, while FSM was able to build a growing roster of clients by leveraging Drupal’s extensive feature set, as it expanded it faced significant challenges: 1) Drupal is a very complex platform to use. It typically takes even experienced programmers months to master. Consequently, FSM had to hire expensive Drupal consultants and in-house programming talent. Even with these experts, creating new features, such as multi-store location maps, was difficult; 2) Drupal sites are very time consuming to build from scratch. Even simple sites can take weeks to build; 3) Drupal’s administrative interface is too complex for typical end users, such as hardware store managers, to be able to update and maintain their sites day-to-day.

After reviewing the market for alternatives, FSM approached Buzzr about the Buzzr Enterprise Edition. Buzzr is built on Drupal and its most important modules, but has been radically overhauled so that non-technical users can build and maintain sites using sleek drag & drop / point & click tools. Sites that took weeks can now be built in just days. FSM liked that Buzzr’s lead developers and co-owners are Lullabot, one of the world’s most elite Drupal consulting firms, whose clients include MarthaStewart.com, Sony Artists and The Grammys. Buzzr Enterprise Edition offers all of the several hundred site building features available on the branded self-service site, Buzzr.com, along with multi-site administrative controls to manage thousands of websites.

Clients can also secure additional modules from Drupal’s extensive library or request that Buzzr’s team engineer custom features. More complex features can be shielded from the view of clients who require a simpler administrative interface. Hosting, performance monitoring, security patches and regular feature upgrades are also included as part of the SaaS offering.

Approach
_____________________________

Buzzr began by installing a copy of platform on its servers and inserting the FSM logo to create a branded environment. FSM also chose a URL to serve as a browser-based access point.

Next, FSM and Buzzr isolated website user cases that represented typical clients for FSM. These included 1) single Ace Hardware stores (two variations); 2) multi-store locations sharing the same website; and 3) “houseware” retail stores not related to Ace hardware.

The teams then worked together to build a client website using Buzzr – for Terry’s Ace Hardware in Colorado – to serve as the model for the first
custom “Quickstart.” Quickstarts are starter sites that have packages of features, permissions, content, layout and design configured for a special use case. Quickstarts can be cloned with one click. Buzzr includes many pre-built Quickstarts for verticals (e.g. lawyer, doctor, restaurant) and clients can also request any website built with Buzzr be converted.

As part of the build, Buzzr was commissioned to program two new custom features: a new, comprehensive web coupon system and, a new multi-location mapping system. Several additional existing Drupal modules, especially around SEO, were integrated to extend functionality beyond the Buzzr feature set.

After TerryAce.com, two other newly created client sites were built solely by the FSM team, then converted into Buzzr Quickstarts. The FSM team was trained on back end multi-site administrative tasks, as well as new features, and a simpler interface was exposed to FSM’s clients. For the first time, clients were given access to their sites to do content updates, create coupons and monitor site activity.

Results
_______________________________

• Turnaround time on new sites reduced from about three weeks to three days.

• Average number of monthly site visitors tripled to 3500.

• Customer’s satisfaction greatly increased after providing them with self-service administrative tools.

• Typical clients sites are TerrysAce.com, HappyCooker.ca and ChoiceBuildingSupply.com

Going Forward
_______________________________

• FSM marketing outreach intensified to multiple national trade shows for non-hardware retailers, sporting goods and housewares stores.

• FSM is expanding into the >$1500 price range market for websites and plans to rely heavily on the large range of existing Buzzr Quickstarts (e.g. florist, general contractor, art gallery, etc.)

• FSM off loading more than a dozen new feature requests to Buzzr so it can focus on better serving clients

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For more info, contact info@Buzzr.com or call Ed Sussman 001-212-867-4680

Learn about our Multisite Editions at Buzzr.com

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