Growing sales for the mission-driven company by selling on Amazon Business.
Envision improves the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired by providing employment and services and using profits for educational and training programs. By expanding its e-commerce sales on Amazon Business, Envision gained more customers and boosted revenue, ensuring it can continue to help the thousands of people it serves.
For people with typical sight, it’s hard to imagine navigating day-to-day tasks without being able to see, much less building a career. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, at least 70% of people who are blind or visually impaired in the United States are not in the workforce. (Interpreting Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Data, American Foundation for the Blind, January 2017).
For the past 85 years, Envision has helped reduce that number. The not-for-profit’s mission is to create opportunity and support independence for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. Founded in Wichita, Kansas, Envision started as a company that employed people who are blind to make brooms, and expanded into manufacturing other products for the United States government, including award binders, other plastic products, and business cards.
The company uses its manufacturing profits to reinvest in its mission, running more than 22 programs for youth and adults. For example, Envision provides a child development center, a vision rehabilitation center, a research center, and the BVI Workforce Innovation Center, which provides knowledge-based job training and placement.
— Michael Monteferrante, President and CEO, Envision
Mike May is the Executive Director of the BVI Workforce Innovation Center at Envision. He was blinded as a young child and is committed to increasing employment for people who are blind by expanding career opportunities into the tech sector.
Envision started with 13 employees and today has 555. As the company grew and changed, so did the marketplace around it.
More millennials are purchasing for businesses, and customers are increasingly accustomed to the ease of shopping online, with its in-depth product information, easy ordering and fast shipping.
“We’ve seen disruption in the sales of our traditional business over the past couple years, and we knew we needed to continue to evolve to stay relevant,” says Michael Hyser, Vice President of Business Development and Federal Affairs at Envision.
Envision has traditionally sold within the government marketplace, including through military base supply stores and its own website. The company wanted to expand its customer base, boost revenue and keep pace with the ever-evolving industry, so it decided to start selling on Amazon Business in August 2017.
“We’ve aggressively pursued ways to grow our business, and saw Amazon as a very disruptive type of approach,” says Hyser. “We found that selling on the Amazon Business marketplace aligned with our core values, and we’ve found great success with it so far.”
Envision added many products to Amazon Business that it hadn’t sold through commercial channels previously — including office and safety supplies — and gained new customers after traditionally only serving government customers.“
In under two years, we’ve seen commercial sales continue to increase almost on a monthly basis,” says Michael Monteferrante, President and CEO of Envision. “With Amazon Business, we’re reaching an entirely new market, not only throughout North America, but globally.”
By expanding its customer base and embracing an established e-commerce presence, Envision has steadily increased revenue. “We’ve seen rapid growth since we started working with Amazon Business, and quick hits on many items due to the large number of SKUs we loaded initially,” says Hyser.
The team is not stopping there; it sees more opportunity for continued collaboration with Amazon in the future. “Right now, we’re just scratching the surface with Amazon,” says Buddy Sell, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and BSC Operations. “We’ve become an enterprise seller and that has allowed us to penetrate the office supply side of the house, but there are many other projects that we’re collaborating with Amazon on right now.”
Ultimately, the more revenue the company generates, the more resources it can devote to helping people.
“We have the opportunity to serve more people who are blind or visually impaired,” says Monteferrante. “And empower them to hold a job, raise a family, have a career, and continue to live the most productive and inspiring life they can.”