Staying Ahead Of The E-Commerce Pack

E-commerce solution helps Icon Health Fitness, Inc. clear the field for e-business success.

As the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of fitness equipment, ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. aggressively dominates the marketplace, driven by its declared goal to be first in fitness with leading edge innovation. Since it's inception in 1977 as a two-man, college-buddy dream company, ICON has not only intelligently seized opportunities over the years to include top fitness brands into it's operation, but innovative customer service technology as well. Because ICON officials know that e-Commerce is critical to sustaining leadership in the burgeoning fitness market, partnering with IBM and ASSIST Cornerstone Technologies was the most logical step to continued success.

Keeping It Simple
ICON is an IBM e-business success story. The fast growing, Utah-based, company employs over 4,800 people with recently reported sales totaling approximately $750 million. ICON sells fitness equipment under the world-recognized brand names of ProForm, HealthRider, Weslo, Weider, IMAGE, JumpKing, Reebok and NordicTrack. ICON sells its products through every channel of distribution available, (i.e. through its catalog), Workout Warehouse, and through department stores such as Sears, mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart and Kmart, sporting goods retailers such as Gart Sports Mart, among others, as well as direct sales via 800-numbers and the Internet. People seeking to know what's hot and not in fitness find that e-commerce provides immediate accessibility to information and the unparalleled convenience of being able to place an order online any moment night or day.

Serving Multiple Sites
To handle multiple brand-based Web sites, ICON requires an electronic commerce solution that is extremely flexible, scalable and powerful. The IBM AS/400 hosts the company's direct marketing software with the AS/400e as its ideal Internet server. Online customers can bring up each brand name Web site to find an online catalog, random fitness tips, an interactive online fitness quiz, ordering and shipping information, and more. But with a clear mission to produce on-time, on-budget, quality products that exceed consumers' expectations, ICON is determined to guarantee that customer's orders don't bog down in the netherland between front-end sales and marketing to critical back-end financial and distribution support.

A Seamless Solution
ASSIST, an IBM business partner for more than 10 years, specializes in providing complete integrated e-commerce solutions for catalogers and direct marketers. The module developed with ASSIST creates a seamless interface with ICON's AS/400 system and software from customer log-in to back office order history. This innovative connection eliminates time-consuming batch order posting processes. While the system is dynamic and flexible for ICON's benefit, it is also customer directed. Current developments allow ICON customers real-time access to inventory and order history while ordering products.

ICON marketing specialist Colleen Logan says, "ICON was looking to enhance its business through a fully functional e-Commerce site. We wanted to develop and implement a site where customers could order products, accessories and parts, check and track the status of present orders, and contact customer service with questions or comments. Security was a major concern for ICON since the primary method of payment would be through credit card. In addition, ICON desired a solution that was not only price competitive, but one that would complement its existing technology. ICON chose to work with IBM and ASSIST Cornerstone Technologies because they were able to provide the most efficient and cost effective solution. In addition, ICON has been using the ASSIST financial and distribution software module for many years. Now, ASSIST has created a dynamic connection into ICON's AS/400 back office system."

Jeff Whicker, programming specialist with ASSIST, says, "The Internet is booming like never before. IBM recently ported its popular Net.Commerce software into the AS/400 family of business computing. ICON decided to implement Net.Commerce, adding it to ASSIST's financial modules. ASSIST has created an interface that integrates the IBM software into our software creating a complete electronic commerce package. With ICON's business increasing dramatically, ICON doesn't need its workload increasing to handle that additional business. We wanted the IBM software to talk to the ASSIST software, eliminating unnecessary, costly, time-consuming steps between order and handling. Everything is fully automated."

Staying Ahead: Following the Leaders
By visiting, one reads the following: "Get there. You know where. The place where you feel aliveā€¦.It's total fitness. No old thinkingā€¦.Constantly test yourself, measure improvement, compete. It's the only way there. Get there." The message is direct. Powerful. It is indicative of how ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. runs its business. By linking with ASSIST Cornerstone Technologies to create solutions that smooth the way for its already large customer base to access and fully take advantage of ecommerce, ICON is guaranteed to stay well ahead of the pack.