RPGsp Power E-Commerce Web Site for Parts Distributor
June 16, 2009 Alex Woodie
Western Power Sports, an Idaho-based distributor of parts for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and watercraft, is using the RPGsp Web development tool to power its e-commerce Web sites, Profound Logic announced last week. Since adopting RPGsp, the company reports that online sales have increased five-fold to $250,000 per day, and now account for half of the company’s revenues.
The folks at Western Power Sports were just about ready to give up on running the company’s e-commerce Web site themselves, according to a Profound Logic case study. Since 2000, the company had done Web site development using another development tool. But it was complicated to use, and the project didn’t get very far before running into performance limitations.
The company was just about ready to outsource the development and management of the e-commerce Web site, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, when somebody in the IT department suggested the IT director, Rody Cummings, check out a demo of RPGsp.
RPGsp, which stands for RPG Smart Pages, is a collection of software for developing Web sites that run natively on the i-based Power Systems server (eServer i5). The toolset includes one editor that handles both HTML- and RPG-editing functions and eliminates the tediousness of using separate editors for the two languages. At runtime, a Web browser executes the HTML and RPG script embedded in the RPGsp page, using CGI techniques to access iSeries data. The tool can be used for converting existing green-screen RPG applications to Web applications, or for building new RPG-based Web apps from scratch.
The RPGsp demo marked a new beginning for Western Power Sports’ e-commerce activities. “I wasn’t even halfway through the demonstration when I decided this product is better than anything we had previously used, or attempted to use,” Cummings is quoted as saying in the case study. “What impressed me was the ease of use and how straightforward the product was. I didn’t get bogged down in a lot of extra things like I did with our previous solution.”
The company decided to adopt the product, and today, the parts distributor hosts six e-commerce Web sites developed using RPGs, such as www.motorcycle-superstore.com and others. The Web sites have direct links to the company’s AS/400 back-end, and only requires two employees working part-time to develop and maintain the Web sites.
The turnaround for Western Power Sports’ Web presence has been, well, profound. “Prior to RPGsp, with the previous product, we generated only 10 percent of our sales online,” Cummings says. “Now with RPGsp in place, 50 percent of our sales come over the Internet with approximately 150,000 visitors, over one million page views, and 7,000 orders on a monthly basis.”