And the company is celebrating with a bunch of special offers for its signed-up customers. "Our B2B business has grown from nothing to a level where over half of Madison's IBD business is ordered online, quite unheard of B2B levels in any industry," said Madison MD Dominic Langan.

Madison’s B2B website is 1000 days old today

"No the other single factor in the history of Madison has done more to improve our customer service than B2B," said Langan.

Before becoming MD, Langan was Madison’s IT guru and was his baby. It still enthuses him:

"The success of B2B has been phenomenal and exceeded even my wildest expectations when I was first developing the product. Accurate stock availability, full visibility and interaction with account and order status information, full order tracking and 24/7 access has captured the imagination of the IBD. B2B is more important to Madison now than the fax or the phone and we continue to invest heavily in this technology."

And IBD users of are big fans of Langan’s project. Neil Lloyd of Deeside Cycles said:

"Accurate information, accurate pricing, accurate deliveries, if ever there is any downtime on B2B it is like having a power cut at home and no TV to watch, we are at a loss what to do when it is not there, that is how important it has become to us."

Frank Warwick of Chain Reaction Cycles in Northern Ireland said it’s "definitely the best B2B website in the trade. If all our distributors were as technically savvy then the whole trade would benefit."

Will Lowes, the purchasing and distribution manager at Evans Cycles likes the system’s accuracy:

"What we enter as an order on our system gets transferred directly to the Madison system without the scope for errors that faxing an order and manual inputting can bring, especially with long orders. This has greatly reduced the incidence of us thinking something was out-of-stock and on backorder, but in fact the line from our order had got lost in translation somewhere along the way from us to Madison. The bottom line is improved availability in our stores."

Steve Baskerville of Real Cycles of Belfast said the site was a win/win for Madison and IBDs:

"Real time stock levels on B2B and super fast delivery times has enabled us to reduce our stock holding of Madison products yet increase our overall sales with the supplier. The virtual shopping basket means we can add to our order over a period of days, then place it once free shipping levels are reached. So no more bits of paper, forgotten customer orders or shipping charges."

The B2B operation hasn’t killed off reps, but it’s changed the way they deal with IBDs, hence why ‘reps’ are now known as ‘account managers’. Madison sales director Bill Baxter said this switch of terminology was necessary:

"The sales team has been freed up to spend more time concentrating on staff training, in-store merchandising and ensuring we keep our customers informed about our whole portfolio of products. The days of the sales rep are over, the account manager delivering real benefits to our customer has arrived."

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