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COMPANY

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 & beverage, electronics, luxury goods, and more.

INDUSTRY

B2B Commerce

PRODUCT

Bloomreach Experience

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INTRO

B&S boasts a diverse and broad range of niche B2B customers and historically have sold mostly via offline channels. Whilst they had a limited eCommerce offering, they were restricted by their inflexible legacy technology that didn’t allow them to scale or provide the customer-first digital experience that they needed. When Corporate IT Director Rene van Gelderen joined B&S, it was his mission to re-introduce eCommerce to the business with an experience-first approach.

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 However, many of these webshops were outdated and not popular with customers or internal B&S teams.

Various people indicated that (our website) might not be the most important thing for us given the way we do business. But in the next sentence they would refer to a competitor who has a great website who they love doing business with.

B&S were looking to change the way their customers thought about doing business with them by introducing an entirely new digital commerce experience, including a new technology infrastructure to support this. In identifying the right technology solution for B&S, Rene knew they would have to overcome challenges in 3 key areas that are common to any digital transformation project 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 ways of doing business and vice-versa.

“We have specific ways of doing business that we have grown to accept as normal,” explains Rene. “Do we change the business processes to keep the online environment simpler 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 his prior experience in leading similar projects, Rene 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, we’re not there yet with a huge number of online orders, we want to grow, and we also have specific needs in eCommerce”

Rene needed a solution that could deliver new capabilities as they needed them and the flexibility to change their approach should the business require it.

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For us, commerce & eCommerce are not two separate things - they are the same.

Rene van Gelderen, Corporate IT Director, B&S

SOLUTION

Going headless

Rene and the team at B&S determined that adopting a headless architecture would enable them to overcome their challenges, and deliver on their digital transformation objectives. They selected Commercetools to power their backend commerce functionality and Bloomreach Experience (brX) to power their frontend experience.

brX has applications in content management, search & merchandising and analytics, enabling the easy creation of AI-powered, personalized customer experiences.

Easier to Use

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

brX is built with both the developer and business user in mind. The flexibility of the platform makes it easy to build on and features like in-context editing and AI-powered search mean the creation of the front end experience is fast and effortless.

This ease of use was critical to the adoption of the platform – if B&S teams did not embrace the new technology then how would they deliver a better experience to their customers?

“I believe in the headless commerce system but you need to provide ‘the head’ to the business or it will be too technical an approach for them. Preferably the head is more in the content space than the commerce space where it’s easier for us to onboard the business users – it’s closer to the way they feel and approach these kinds of applications.”

Easier for Customers

Ultimately, B&S were undertaking this transformation for the good of their customers.

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

brX enables B&S to make shopping really easy for their customers. It powers personalized search results so people 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 their customers, B&S are not just increasing online sales, but are influencing a broad range of business objectives.

“Lots of improvement can be made that relate to higher sales or better margins; but also to improve category management, improve loyalty, improve 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 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 which also enhances the enthusiasm that people bring” reflects Rene.

“We’ve seen at least two of our business units basically change their logo because of the new approach and say ‘well actually the old logo doesn’t reflect who we are and what we want to do’. It’s getting quite beyond the traditional ‘let’s create a new webshop approach’.”

B&S' Favourite Features

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Content Management

Edit and preview content without leaving the page with preview that includes text, visuals and products inserted on the page. Launch, manage and customize campaign specific landing pages and microsites at top speed without depending on IT.

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Search

Bloomreach Search is the industry-leading, AI-powered site search to drive revenue. Exceptional search, browse & product discovery, where every search query is optimized for revenue and AI/ML-automated personalization is applied to reduce costs and workload.

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Personalization

Personalize how you rank products for each visitor. Bloomreach can understand user preferences on a one-to-one basis and reorders products based on user preferences.

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