Jennifer Cattaui, owner of Babesta, an online retailer of leading-edge children’s clothing, needed flexible technology to support new brick-and-mortar stores. She chose Microsoft Office 365 for cloud-based collaboration and real-time communications.
With anytime, anywhere access to productivity tools and company information, all employees work as one virtual team, offering seamless customer service to win more business.
As a new mom, Jennifer Cattaui’s search for unique designer children’s fashions for her daughter led to the birth of a new business enterprise. Cattaui, an attorney with a degree from Rutgers School of Law, launched Babesta in 2004 as an online retail
outlet featuring children’s clothes that went beyond “pastel, ruffles, and lace.“ At the time, Cattaui was working as the executive editor of a fashion magazine and she managed the site with her husband.
“We received a lot of attention because our merchandise is so different. In 2007, we opened our first brick-and-mortar store offering apparel, accessories, and toys,” says Cattaui. “Then in 2009, we opened Babesta Cribz to offer baby gear and furniture.”
||We’ve reduced order entry errors, and we can resolve issues more quickly. We’re responding to customers 50 percent faster because the system is always available by all staff from anywhere.
| Jennifer Cattaui
Babesta grew organically, with Cattaui taking strategic steps using sound business sense and an eye for market opportunities. Focused on expanding her company and her family (she now has two children), Cattaui had little time to think about business technology.
She ran the company on QuickBooks and various versions of Microsoft Office desktop productivity software. Email was outsourced to a POP3 provider.
“Adding the stores complicated our business,” says Cattaui. “Tracking inventory and customer information in spreadsheets became cumbersome. We needed an online collaboration solution to create and store documentation and to standardize how we planned in-store
events and tracked furniture orders. We needed better access for all employees to more detailed product, customer, and inventory information.”
Cattaui needed business productivity technology that was flexible enough to adapt to her company and her lifestyle. “Staff responsible for the online store work mostly at home, our retail sales associates move between stores, and many of us have multiple
roles. I wanted an easy way for everyone to access information about all things Babesta—to build productivity, brand awareness, team spirit, and buzz about our growing company.”
Cattaui found the right solution for Babesta in Microsoft Office 365, a collection of cloud-based email, calendaring, collaboration, conferencing, and productivity solutions. As a member of 85 Broads, a global network of working women, she heard about
the solution due to a joint project with Microsoft called Your Office Your Terms, an initiative to educate women about technologies that enable working remotely.
Cattaui was attracted by the connected online suite of familiar, time-saving Microsoft Office applications, including Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online—and the latest version of the Microsoft Office Professional
Plus desktop suite. She jumped at the opportunity to build a collaboration framework for Babesta using Office 365 intranet sites powered by SharePoint Online. She saw the potential of enhanced real-time communications using Lync Online for instant messaging
and screen sharing. Babesta employees can see presence indicators in Office applications and on SharePoint sites so they can collaborate in real time from virtually anywhere.
“Office 365 is sophisticated business productivity software that you’d expect to see in a large corporate setting but made available for small businesses as a subscription service,” says Cattaui. “By using Office 365, I don’t have the burden of maintaining
In November 2011, Cattaui subscribed to SharePoint Online and Lync Online and deployed the Office Professional Plus desktop suite to all her PCs.
By using Office 365, Babesta quickly capitalized on the power of cloud technologies. Today, Babesta is a more cohesive, productive company that provides better customer service to help expand the business.
Supports Flexible Work/Life Mix
Cattaui uses SharePoint Online to build a solid foundation for business flexibility. Now all employees can access the information they need, regardless of time, place, or business role, and use the real-time collaboration capabilities available in Lync Online
to erase the boundaries between the stores, home, and the office. “I value flexibility when it comes to work and life, as do my employees,” says Cattaui. “I use Lync Online to chat with a team member about new brands for the stores, saving travel time. Instead
of emailing me a time-sensitive nursery order, a sales associate and I can share screens to review it in real time. If we can reduce sales cycles by half a day or so, that’s good for business.”
Streamlines Order Management
When Babesta sales associates help parents outfit a nursery, they use SharePoint Online for storing vendor and customer information, tracking multiple-item orders, organizing delivery dates, and ensuring follow-up after the baby arrives. “By using SharePoint
Online, we were able to expand our business,” says Cattaui. “We’ve reduced order entry errors, and we can resolve issues more quickly. We’re responding to customers 50 percent faster because the system is always available by all staff from anywhere.”
Now that Babesta has a central place to store customer, product, vendor, and event information, everyone at the company can find the information they need to serve customers more efficiently. “We use Office 365 to stay organized,” says Cattaui. “I would estimate
that we are all working 30 percent more efficiently.”
Builds Team Spirit
Cattaui uses Office 365 to engender a sense of excitement and loyalty among employees who log on to the site as soon as they report for work. “I customized our SharePoint Online site to be the shared living room of our company,” says Cattaui. “It’s full of
product and industry information, bulletin boards, calendars, staff kudos, and links to blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. We’re increasing brand awareness and teamwork, so we can all work together to provide seamless customer service and build our business."
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