Leading Provider of Sports and Electronics Protection Equipment Relies on WSO2 Integration Cloud to Automate Information Flows Across Its E-commerce and ERP Systems and Partners’ EDI Networks
G-Form, LLC is revolutionizing sports protection with padding that stays soft—only hardening on impact—and fits each athlete’s body like a second skin to maximize mobility. The company’s products have become the protection of choice for athletes in soccer, snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, and other sports. G-Form also has applied its patented technology to a line of protection products for electronic gear systems in laptops, iPads, iPhones, and tablets.
Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, G-Form makes its products available for purchase online and through a network of retailers—from local dealers to major national and global chains, such as Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods. As the company continues to grow, a top priority has been speeding the delivery of its products and ensuring the satisfaction of customers and partners, alike.
To optimize the product order process, G-Form has automated communications across its cloud-based e-commerce and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as well as partners’ electronic data interchange (EDI) networks, using WSO2 Integration Cloud. As a result, G-Form was able to complete orders for Cyber Monday 2017 in less than one-fifth the time it took in previous years—cutting the process from days to hours.
The Need to Speed Product Order Processes
In its first few years of business, G-Form relied on manual processes to exchange information between the Magento open source e-commerce platform and SAP Business ByDesign ERP software as a service (SaaS) solution. Magento handled purchase order and shipping processes, while SAP Business ByDesign managed back-end business functions, such as order processing, accounting, inventory management, and sales order management.
"We really needed to integrate and automate our business processes."
Director of IT,
“Our process of manually copying and pasting every Magento order into SAP ByDesign to get inventory availability and other functions was time-consuming and inefficient, pulling team resources from other priorities,” recalled Graham Wilkins, director of IT at G-Form. “There was also a good deal of human error. We really needed to integrate and automate these business processes.”
As the business grew, G-Form recognized that streamlining its product order processes would require two categories of integration: a link between SAP Business ByDesign and Magento plus integration between the SAP ERP system and partners’ respective EDI networks. However, SAP Business ByDesign had no pre-built integration available; G-Form did not have an in-house development staff, and turning to a top-tier consulting firm would have been too cost-prohibitive. The answer, the company quickly decided, was to turn to a cloud-based integration platform.
Implementing WSO2 Integration Cloud
An evaluation of integration solutions first led G-Form to an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) provider used by one of its retail partners. However, the iPaaS was very retail-focused, and the monthly subscription was expensive.
Because Wilkins had experience using Apache ServiceMix, an open source enterprise service bus, he decided to refocus the G-Form’s search on a cloud-based, open source, integration solution that was built on newer technology than ServiceMix.
This search quickly led to WSO2 Integration Cloud, which is based on the 100% open source WSO2 Enterprise Integrator software.
"We saw an industrial-strength open source offering in WSO2 Integration Cloud."
Director of IT,
“We saw an industrial-strength open source offering in WSO2 Integration Cloud. We liked that it was built on an Apache ESB project and was also very architecturally sound,” Wilkins explained. “Equally important was the fact that it wouldn’t cost us a fortune, and we were able to engage with non-sales people at WSO2.”
After selecting WSO2 Integration Cloud, G-Form kicked off the implementation process by writing functional specifications for the system in Microsoft Word, the supporting integration decision logic in Microsoft Visio, and the data mapping in Microsoft Excel. The WSO2 support team then used these artifacts to write the application integrating Magento and SAP Business ByDesign.
“The implementation process was fast, and the WSO2 professional services went the extra mile to adapt to the complexities of the SAP Business ByDesign SOAP interactions,” Wilkins notes. “From writing the specs to developing the integration app to completing a formal quality assurance process to putting it into production in the cloud—it all took less than six weeks.”
"The implementation process was fast, and the WSO2 professional services went the extra mile to adapt to the complexities of the SAP Business ByDesign SOAP interactions."
Director of IT,
Cutting Processes from Weeks to Hours
Today, G-Form relies on WSO2 Integration Cloud to manage the integration between Magento and SAP Business ByDesign for its consumer and small business sales. This has significantly streamlined product orders managed by these systems. For example, a stock keeping unit (SKU) in Magento may be any one of 14 SAP SKUs. In the past, G-Form employees had to manually determine the right mapping. Now, through a rule for the mapping built by WSO2, the integration app looks at possible SKUs and automatically maps to the correct one.
Similarly, when an order ships, the warehouse shipment data in SAP needs to be sent back to Magento, so that the e-commerce platform can send an update email to the customer. Previously G-Form employees had to copy and paste information from one system to the other. Now data in SAP Business ByDesign automatically flows to Magento, which in turn triggers the customer email.
The efficiencies gained by automating processes with WSO2 Integration Cloud have enabled G-Form to turnaround customer orders significantly faster. For example, in 2016, there were so many Cyber Monday orders coming into Magento that it took the G-Form team until the following Friday to manually enter them all into the SAP system. By contrast, the automated flow of information between Magento and SAP Business Design enabled G-Form to process the 2017 Cyber Monday orders within 24 hours—often on the same business day.
"We’ve gotten much more efficient. We’re now able to ship people’s orders out within a day."
Director of IT,
“We’ve gotten much more efficient. We’re now actually able to ship people’s orders out within a day, whereas before we’d get behind and wouldn’t even get the order to the warehouse for days to weeks,” Wilkins says. “This has been especially beneficial for our customers during the holiday season.”
Positioned for Growth
G-Form also relies on WSO2 Integration Cloud to integrate SAP ByDesign with EDI value-added network (VAN) services. This has enabled G-Form to sign partnerships with national and global retailers, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon, which require an EDI connection before doing business.
“We’ve been able to add several big-box retailers this year and have seen greatly increased sales as a result,” said Wilkins. “This wouldn’t have been possible without WSO2’s support for EDI integration.”
At the same time, the team and resource efficiencies have positioned G-Form for strong growth in 2018 and beyond.
“A huge benefit is that we’ve been able to repurpose the team that was manually copying and pasting e-commerce orders and shipment data between Magento and SAP to do more meaningful work,” Wilkins explained.
"We’ve been able to add several big-box retailers this year and have seen greatly increased sales as a result."
Director of IT,
Additionally, Wilkins noted, “Thanks to WSO2, we were able to deploy into an iPaaS infrastructure that required no in-house knowledge or technical staff. The cost savings have been significant, and WSO2 Integration Cloud is providing the scalability we need as our business grows.”
Looking ahead, G-Form expects to support six new large retail partners within the next year through additional EDI integrations. The company also plans to facilitate interactions with partners by exposing some of its functionality as APIs published in WSO2 API Cloud.
“We are very pleased with WSO2 Integration Cloud and are looking forward to working with WSO2 in building on our initial success,” Wilkins said. “At the end of the day, information technology is still a people business, and WSO2 employees are stellar both in terms of knowledge and support.”
"At the end of the day, information technology is still a people business, and WSO2 employees are stellar both in terms of knowledge and support."
Director of IT,