B&S Introduces Ecommerce to B2B With an Experience-First Approach

Carl Bleich
Carl Bleich

B&S is a leading international trade and wholesale distributor based in The Netherlands. It offers over 40,000 products across an assortment of food and beverage, electronics, luxury goods, and more. 

B&S boasts a diverse and broad range of niche B2B products, and historically has sold mostly via offline channels. While it had a limited ecommerce offering, the company had been restricted by an inflexible legacy technology that didn’t allow it to scale or provide the customer-first digital experience that was needed. 

With such a variety of products and customer types, B&S already operated a number of brands and corresponding webshops. However, many of these webshops were outdated and not popular with customers or internal teams. 

B&S was looking to change the way its customers thought about doing business with the company by introducing an entirely new digital commerce experience. This included a new technology infrastructure to support these changes. 

In identifying the right technology solution, B&S knew it would have to overcome challenges in three key areas that are common with any digital transformation of this scale.  

Company-wide Adoption

As with the introduction of any new process or way of working, success would hinge on how the new technology was adopted internally. With multiple business units involved, it was key that B&S introduce a solution that would be embraced as easy to work with and beneficial to a variety of users. 

Simplicity vs. Complexity

In any digital transformation, there comes the inevitable question of how technology supports the way business is conducted, and vice versa. 

“We have specific ways of doing business that we have grown to accept as normal,” said Rene van Gelderen, Corporate IT Director for B&S. “Do we change the business processes to keep the online environment simple or do we add complexity to the platform to support the current way of doing business?”

Maintaining this balance would be key to both the introduction and continued success of the new digital-first way of working. 

Technological Flexibility

With prior experience in leading similar projects, van Gelderen knew that B&S was not in the market for a monolithic solution. With the business still trying to grow its share of online orders, a more technologically agile approach would be required. 

“A traditional monolithic ecommerce system doesn’t really translate to B&S,” van Gelderen said. “We’re not there yet with a huge number of online orders. We want to grow and we also have specific needs in ecommerce.”

B&S needed a solution that could deliver new capabilities and the flexibility to change approaches should the business require it. 

Going Headless

The team at B&S determined that adopting a headless architecture would enable it to overcome challenges and deliver on key digital transformation objectives. B&S selected Commercetools to power its back-end commerce functionality and the Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud to power its front-end experience.  

Specifically, B&S chose Bloomreach Content and Bloomreach Discovery to power its content management and search and merchandising, as well as to enable the easy creation of personalized customer experiences.  

Ease of Use

The Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud has both the developer and business user in mind. The flexibility of the cloud makes it easy to build on, and features such as in-context editing and AI-powered search make the creation of the front-end experience fast and effortless. 

“Bloomreach is a user-friendly solution which immediately appeals to our business users,” said van Gelderen. “Business users who need to start providing the content to the platform can do so easily so that we can provide a relevant customer experience.”

The ease of use was critical to B&S — if internal teams did not embrace the new technology, then how would they deliver a better experience to their customers? 

Easier for Customers

Ultimately, B&S undertook this transformation for the good of its customers. 

“It’s very relevant to improve the ease of doing business with us to increase the share of customers,” said van Gelderen. “Providing a high level of ease of use and trying to take the pain out of your customers’ daily lives — as long as you have an easy way of doing business, then you will be a partner of choice.”

The Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud enables B&S to make shopping easier for its customers. It powers personalized search results so consumers can find the products they are looking for quickly, and enables the delivery of relevant content to the right shopper at the right time. 

By improving the digital experience for customers, B&S is not just increasing online sales, but is also influencing a broad range of business objectives. 

“Lots of improvements can be made that relate to higher sales or better margins,” van Gelderen said. “But to also improve category management, loyalty, engagement with customers — these are also important areas that we use the digital landscape for.”

Ultimately, the digital transformation project has been such a success for B&S that it has even influenced how business units are thinking about their relationships with their customers. 

“We are taking quite a big jump in capabilities on this digital platform and that enhances the enthusiasm that people bring,” said van Gelderen. “We’ve seen at least two of our business units basically change their logo because of the new approach. It’s getting quite beyond the traditional ‘let’s create a new webshop approach.’”

Bloomreach Facilitates Connected Commerce Experiences

As Bloomreach co-founder and CEO Raj De Datta states, there is very little distinction between the real and digital worlds today because of the comparable amount of time we spend in both. 

B&S saw things the same way, and went with a company that could prepare the way for a digital future. 

“For us, commerce and ecommerce are not two separate things — they are the same,” van Gelderen said. 

The Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud has powerful content, customer engagement, and product discovery offerings that allow companies to achieve true personalization and drive unparalleled business growth. If you’re interested in learning more about how Bloomreach can help your company achieve a win similar to that of B&S, schedule a personalized demo today.



Carl Bleich

Head of Content at Bloomreach

Carl works with Bloomreach professionals to produce valuable, customer-centric content. A trusted expert with over 15 years of experience, Carl loves exploring unique ways to turn problems into solutions within digital commerce. Read more from Carl here.

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