Jun 30

The active ingredients in beauty products sold by Arabah are as old as the Dead Sea from which they come, but the company’s website technology has to be state-of-the-art. Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software provides lower cost, less complexity, and better enterprise support than Arabah says it would have seen with open-source MySQL. The results: 20 to 25 percent annual growth and the flexibility to meet new and larger market needs.

usiness Needs
Arabah is the official U.S. distributor of the Jericho by Paloma line of beauty products made from Dead Sea minerals. The high-end line includes skin care, cosmetics, hair care, and bath and spa products. The minerals they contain come from the lowest point on the surface of the earth, from an inland sea so salty that nothing can live in its waters—the same source that once supplied minerals to Aristotle, Herod the Great, and Queen Cleopatra.

Since Arabah serves the entire United States with Jericho products, the company must make the most of technology to maximize its sales potential. Arabah had gone into business with a small, static website that the company quickly outgrew. In 2009, Yaniv Zigron, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Arabah, and his colleagues began to contemplate replacing the old site with a new, larger, more functional, and more reliable site that would serve Arabah for years to come.

The new website would have to include e-commerce capability to replace the manual order fulfillment process that Arabah used alongside its initial site. It also would have to be as scalable as it was reliable. As a business owner, Zigron wanted all this for the lowest possible price. His small company had little capital to spare; and a big company—which Zigron envisioned as the future for Arabah—wouldn’t get big and stay big without keeping its corporate eye on the expense sheet.

To create the new website, Zigron turned to CSW Solutions, a Microsoft Certified Partner. CSW is a technology consulting company dedicated to creating customer software solutions that provide exactly the type of business results that Zigron and Arabah were seeking.

Arabah and CSW considered their options, at first focusing on an open-source solution that included MySQL database software. This seemed to make sense. Arabah, as a small company, was cost sensitive; MySQL was available without a licensing fee. Then, the two companies looked closer.

With MySQL, ongoing maintenance would cost more than it would with a full-featured product, such as Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software. Similarly, MySQL would require complex and costly add-ons to support many of the features that SQL Server supports out of the box. The mission-critical nature of the Arabah e-commerce site required readily available, cost-effective, around-the-clock enterprise support. SQL Server 2008 came with that support; MySQL didn’t. The companies switched their development plan to SQL Server 2008.

Given the importance of the website, having a backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery plan is crucial. SQL Server 2008 helps support these needs by providing a differential backup of the database every hour and a transaction log every 15 minutes. Because SQL Server 2008 stores all data for the website, the site can be restored within minutes to virtually any previous point in time.

“By choosing SQL Server, Arabah provided us with the opportunity to work with a solid, scalable, and reliable solution that we could rely on as a storage platform for this existing project and any future development,” says Yoel Sommer, Principal and Cofounder of CSW Solutions.

Arabah is using its new, SQL Server 2008–based website to drive continued growth, to enhance customer service, and to serve as a fully functional, extensible information platform for years to come.

Scalability and Functionality for Future Growth
The website supports 2,000 simultaneous customers and can be scaled out easily and cost effectively to support more customers with the addition of commodity computers.

The site also fully integrates video, text, photo, and e-commerce functions, providing a comprehensive and appealing online environment that will not just support growth, but also encourage it. Zigron estimates that the new website will contribute to growth in net income of 20 to 25 percent over each of the next five years.

“The website is important to us in a number of ways,” says Zigron. “We use it to support our wholesalers as well as our growing market of direct consumers. Online sales are increasingly important to our overall projections, so our site has to generate an increasing amount of revenue. Thanks to Microsoft technologies, it does.”

Automation, Reliability, Boost Customer Service
Customers, too, benefit from the solution, which supplements the already high standards of service at Arabah. The new site automates customer service functions, giving users timely and accurate responses and a better overall experience, including email messages on shipping status and other order updates. The high level of reliability that Arabah gains from SQL Server 2008 means that customers can access the site virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Extensibility Meets Increasing Requirements
Zigron’s choice of SQL Server has already paid dividends to Arabah in its ability to meet new and growing requirements. For example, CSW designed the site for SQL Server 2008 Express, a license-free edition that is well suited to sites such as Zigron’s. But the company’s growth—together with Zigron’s interest in easily adding functionality as needed—led CSW to scale up the site before going live to SQL Server 2008 Standard, without having to make any significant changes.

Zigron sees capabilities in SQL Server 2008 that Arabah can add to its deployment when the company needs them. For example, business intelligence tools in SQL Server and Microsoft Office will make it possible for Arabah employees to conduct increasingly sophisticated analyses of sales by using at-a-glance visualization tools.

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