Making interior design dreams come true
BuildLane is a company on a mission: to help interior designers produce truly one-of-a-kind custom furniture to impress even the most discerning eye. Designers use BuildLane’s innovative software to specify and receive quotes for custom furniture pieces, working with BuildLane’s experts to nail down the design and get real-time updates on invoicing, creation, and shipping.
But the past year’s COVID crisis brought new challenges to their business. Furniture manufacturer shutdowns led to a backlog of old orders, along with an influx of new orders, making it challenging to keep up using their existing systems. COVID strains also impacted developer resources, which left few people available to work on new projects. New systems and tools were needed to help them more efficiently manage all that goes into the shipping, invoicing, and design of custom furniture.
Finding a new way to build internal tools
“We had this problem where we needed these tools but didn’t have anyone to build them,” said George Gearhart, BuildLane’s Head of Product. On his quest for new tools, George considered and demo-ed many solutions, including off-the-shelf shipping solutions as well as other internal tool platforms. Ultimately, BuildLane went with Internal - as George explained, “it was faster to get started and easier to set up” than the alternatives.
Within hours, they were able to put together a solution in Internal that was good enough for their team to use. Instead of endlessly searching for the perfect vendor or committing a year’s worth of resources to building something themselves, Internal allowed BuildLane to stitch together their data from multiple sources and create interfaces easily.
“We’re using Internal to build the tools that were never built that we needed,” said George, describing how Internal opened up new ways for their team to work with previously inaccessible data. “Obviously our developer can get into the database to do what he needs, but the team members we hired for shipping or CAD drawings don't know how to use the database. So we needed some way when we didn’t have any dev resources to give the rest of our team admin tools that had never been built.”
A central management tool for furniture pieces
One of the main internal tools created by BuildLane was a centralized place to manage all of the furniture pieces in the process. Before Internal, various workflows would take users across several pages and multiple systems. For example, someone checking on an invoice would need to navigate through several pages (difficult to do if you weren’t familiar with the system) and after many clicks, would finally land in Freshbooks where they could see the invoice data. Now, all of that data was a breeze to access - users just had to click on the link displayed in the internal tool, taking them to wherever they needed to go. Statuses were also clearly laid out in the table - each piece showed statuses of the bill of lading, shipping, and payment, all color-coded so users could know at a glance what was going on for each item.
This led to significant time savings for their team, as George explains: “This was something where it was very evident that there wasn’t an existing off-the-shelf solution for this, and we didn’t know exactly what we needed. But we were able to, in the course of a week, put it together using Internal. It does two things for us: One, it makes the workflows much more simple - you can click and go where you need to go. And two, it gives our production team one central place where they can see status for all the things going on when it comes to shipping, invoicing, etc. At minimum, on a weekly basis, we’ve saved the people who manage our shipping at least 5 hours per week and probably closer to 10 hours per week.”
The end goal: better experiences for their customers
Internal provided other benefits to BuildLane. They could quickly prototype new tools or workflows and immediately show their team members. Features like the function editor open up new avenues for BuildLane to continue to improve existing tools, or even add new tools and capabilities. But ultimately, Internal’s main benefit is how it improved BuildLane’s ability to deliver a great experience to their core customers - both designers and manufacturers.
In the end, George sums up the overall impact of Internal as: “Customer experience is better, more smooth, more reliable. Our customers care about paying what you said you’re going to charge me, and delivering it on time. We’re able to do that so much better with what we’ve built in Internal than what we were using before.”