After years running Majestic Stone, a stone producer operating seven quarries and a state-of-the-art fabrication facility, the CEO was inspired to launch StoneLoads, an online stone marketplace. He recognised that Majestic Stone’s ability to scale was limited by the need to field requests about its 15 acres of inventory via text messages and phone calls. Realising that most distributors lacked transparency into product availability, he and the Majestic Stone team conceived an online marketplace connecting suppliers and distributors nationwide. This idea was the foundation for launching StoneLoads, an online stone marketplace. But to make it a reality, StoneLoads needed help building a complete platform capable of empowering buyers, suppliers, and distributors to do business seamlessly.
To build this product, StoneLoads partnered with Black Airplane, a local product design and development company with extensive experience in e-commerce.
Following a discovery phase to understand the intricacies of the natural stone industry, Black Airplane designed a prototype of an innovative online marketplace with payment capabilities and product search powered by machine learning. After presenting this first-of-its-kind platform to strategic industry distributors, StoneLoads’ CEO quickly built a list of companies interested in the marketplace.
After validating the proof of concept, Black Airplane designed and developed a complete online marketplace with StoneLoads. Based on its experience as a Stripe partner, Black Airplane knew Stripe Connect was the perfect payment solution to connect buyers and sellers in one cohesive experience.
Suppliers can now sell directly to buyers on the StoneLoads platform, while StoneLoads collects a small percentage of sales as profit. Stripe Connect significantly reduced development complexity and helped bring the platform to market on a reduced timeline.
StoneLoads expanded its sales opportunities by including additional Stripe features suggested by Black Airplane, such as enabling ACH payments and allowing buyers to purchase on credit via Stripe Invoicing.
Streamlining a supply-and-demand process
StoneLoads and Black Airplane reduced the time to secure ACH clearance by 75%, which was pivotal to creating a sustainable business model. The StoneLoads platform revolutionised an industry that has long relied on a manual process riddled with confusion and time-wasting redundancies. Now top distributors and suppliers are empowered to source and sell natural stone in a game-changing way.
Suppliers use a simple, attractive platform to showcase their products and connect in real time with distributors looking to purchase. Not only can suppliers share their inventory with a much larger audience of potential buyers, they can also do so much more quickly – even on the fly from a mobile device.
In the best-case scenario, a supplier can post inventory, sell it, and get paid within five to six days instead of the typical 30- to 60-day time frame. In turn, they enjoy better cash flow and can more rapidly reinvest in their businesses.
On the buyer side, what was once a manual, laborious process is also streamlined. With a few clicks, distributors can view inventory available from coast to coast and place an order in minutes.
Democratising an industry
The natural stone industry comprises a range of businesses. On one end are publicly traded companies with dedicated teams responsible for buying stone. On the other end are local landscape yards where owners handle purchasing along with all the other responsibilities of operating their business. The previous process of calling suppliers for inventory details was incredibly time-consuming for all distributors but especially challenging for small businesses with lean staffing.
With round-the-clock access to available inventory and prices, even the smallest distributor can source and purchase needed stone within minutes instead of months. Just as important, they can use that recouped time to focus on their customers and business.
Envisioning a big future
Now that StoneLoads has made it easier to list and purchase full loads of stone, the company is exploring ways to enable freight. It also plans to pursue expansion throughout and beyond its existing footprint. StoneLoads is even fielding requests from suppliers in other countries wanting to take advantage of the platform to streamline buying and selling in their parts of the world. That’s good news for StoneLoads, considering the natural stone industry is expected to reach $50+ billion by 2030.
With the platform that Black Airplane developed, powered by Stripe solutions, we’re expanding the industry’s buying and selling network and providing the equivalent of an ‘easy’ button for purchasing natural stone.
About our partner
Founded in 2017, Black Airplane is an award-winning creative software development firm that builds apps and websites. With clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100s, it has quickly established itself as one of the Southeast US’s premier development shops.
As a Stripe partner, we were empowered to strategically determine the best solutions for StoneLoads and quickly develop and launch an innovative online marketplace based on implementation best practices and featuring Stripe Connect as the platform backbone.