Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Since using the platform, it's been very good for us as far as the inventory goes, because we didn't have a very good handle on tracking what or how much we had. Our fabric comes on a bolt of 50 yards, and we weren’t inputting specific SKUs in and deducting, so it was always difficult to know how much we had of anything—if we had any. Now it's become a lot easier to track what we're selling and also know that we have more of it on the shelf.
There are issues with the solution, though. Part of it is that Shopify wants you to use their payment system to process payments, and we were happy with our merchant processor. Theirs was less expensive and easier because it's fully integrated, but there were problems with it. If we had a chargeback, with Shopify, you just have to submit what is in the system and you can't speak with anyone. With our old processor, I'm able to provide backup. We do a lot of custom work, so we have a lot of signatures on paper. We have a lot of detail written down that's outside of the system. With our old processor, we were able to send all that in, and we would never lose a chargeback. With Shopify, that didn't work for us, so we had to switch back to our old processor, who actually matched the rate which is good, but the third-party merchant processor doesn't work as well with the system. The Shopify system has the card chip readers; if you use a third-party processor, you have to use the old swipers. We're getting a lot of declines because they think it's fraud.
There's another issue, which they knew wasn't going to be able to be solved without putting in a larger investment, and that is that we sell fabric off the bolt. We cut 1¼ yards, 1½, and 1¾ yards. With our old system, we were able to input 0.25. With the new system, we can only sell in whole units. If we're selling something, we try to sell it as full yards, which is good because we sell half a yard more. A lot of our customers who have been coming to us for a while are not used to that. Let’s say they buy 5½ yards. We have to sell 5 off the SKU, and then we enter the ½ yard as a separate item. That messes up the inventory a little bit, so we have to stay on top of how much we have and make adjustments every so often.
To fix these things, we will need some custom programming, and we're not ready to spend the money on that now. It's something that is just becoming part of our sales process, and we're going to leave it be for now. However, we just met with them today about potentially fixing the issue of the chip card reader.
How did Coalesce perform from a project management standpoint?
They are excellent. They're really knowledgeable and on top of things, doing a lot of research into how the systems work and what would be best. They take into consideration the people who work here and their skill level. Although recommending something may not be as good as another solution, it would be better for us because of the skill level of the people who work here. They take all of those factors into consideration.
All of their work was delivered on time, but it wasn’t within budget. It definitely cost more than what we had expected. As they got into it, they realized that the scope of the project was larger than they had anticipated.
We just used email to communicate with them.
What did you find most impressive about Coalesce?
They're very organized and goal driven. They're not just trying to sell you their services, but rather really want to find the best solution. They operate on a very high level. We're a small business, but I think they can provide services to large corporations who would be happy with their reporting, follow-up, and attentiveness.
Are there any areas Coalesce could improve?
If they could try to come in within budget, that would be helpful. They work on an hourly basis, so they could provide a little more detail on what they're billing for.