ChannelAdvisor Bradley Hearn By Tamara Gibbs

How the Right E-Commerce Platform Can Future-Proof Your Business (Case Study)

As a niche seller, SIM Supply was doing really well. Because the company’s catalog was laser-focused on the mining industry, it had become a go-to resource for safety-supply purchases. Buyers could easily find everything from fluorescent jackets and mining boots to safety goggles and masks.

Then e-commerce exploded. And everything changed.

If executives hadn’t acted swiftly, SIM Supply’s story may have become a cautionary tale. But the company knew better than to ignore shifts and changes in the landscape, and their story is one of enviable success. 

From niche seller to dozens of product categories

SIM Supply has served the mining industry since 1983. But it’s a volatile sector, and buying behaviors can shift dramatically from one year to the next. After decades of weathering those changes, the company needed to find a way to recession-proof the business.

There was little doubt on where to go next. With e-commerce growing at a remarkable pace, doors were being opened to more audiences than SIM Supply had previously thought possible.

Decision makers decided to dive right in.

“We started looking at kind of supplementing the traditional industrial commercial business with e-commerce and making our business a little bit more resistant to downturns in the mining industry,” explains e-commerce manager Joe Caldwell.

They began by gathering up product data. Then, using the ChannelAdvisor platform, they slowly started turning that data into optimized product listings on eBay and Amazon. Next came emerging marketplaces such as NewEgg, Jet, Sears and Walmart. As demand increased on these and other channels, so did SIM Supply’s product catalog.

“It completely changed our company.”

Within a decade, SIM Supply became an entirely different company. Instead of “an industrial commercial company with an e-commerce division,” it was now “an e-commerce company with a commercial mining division.”

The business now has direct relationships with over 9,000 manufacturers and suppliers that help stock more than 700,000 items. And while it still sells plenty of mining equipment, the number of categories consumers can explore has exploded. There are building materials and construction equipment, office furniture and home appliances, tools, storage, cleaning supplies, housewares… and the list goes on and on.

Did it happen by chance? Not by a longshot. 

“Without ChannelAdvisor, we would probably only be on our website and maybe one or two marketplaces,” Caldwell says. 

Having an easy, reliable way to streamline product data and optimize it for each marketplace’s unique requirements has been the real key to success.

Without a platform to manage it all, Caldwell says the company would be at a very different stage of growth.

“It would drastically reduce how many places we could be, and how many products we could have,” he says.

Feeling inspired? While SIM Supply’s story may sound like the stuff of retail fairytales, the company’s success isn’t nearly as difficult to replicate as you might think. You just need the right platform.

As the #1 marketplace management provider to the Internet Retailer Top 1,000, ChannelAdvisor has everything you need to sell on 100+ more marketplaces around the world. If you think it might be time to transition your business to a new solution, be sure to check out our free eBook: Everything You Need to Know to Change E-Commerce Software.