A pioneer in innovation and technology since 1963

Distributor Corporation of New England (DCNE), a second generation family-owned business, is one of the largest distributors of commercial and residential HVAC equipment, parts and supplies serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, with 6 branches throughout their territory.  As the New England distributor of Carrier equipment and parts for close to sixty years, their mission to continue exceeding customer expectations has never wavered.  They strive to inject value in the channel wherever and whenever possible. 

DCNE’s customer-base is made up of mechanical and HVAC contractors.  Their product catalog includes everything ranging from residential and commercial heating and air conditioning equipment, commercial applied equipment for large industrial buildings, and a full line of parts and supplies.

DCNE is highly respected by fellow Carrier distributors around the country and is considered a pioneer in innovation and technology. Through eCommerce, DCNE set out to bring their complex business online to meet evolving customer expectations and stand out in a competitive market.

From turnkey to robust eCommerce

DCNE launched their ecommerce journey in 2012 with a turnkey, off-the-shelf ecommerce solution. It was low cost and delivered what they needed at the time. Eventually DCNE realized it had outgrown the solution, and they knew it was time to search for a new ecommerce platform that overcame the limitations of the original solution, which included:

  • Outdated architecture
  • Lacking features
  • Reliance on developers to make simple changes
  • Little to no integration to third party tools
  • Content issues
  • Not scalable

The hunt for the right fit

DCNE considered over 30 different ecommerce platforms during their initial discovery phase. There were a lot of small, turnkey solutions like the one they were already using, or full enterprise grade solutions that were too far out of reach. They needed something in the middle, built for the complexities of B2B.

Eventually DCNE decided to move forward with Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud because the platform was built for B2B and had robust integration capabilities. DCNE knew Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud would meet their complex pricing needs with integration to their Infor ERP.

Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud has a ton of strong B2B features right out-of-the-box. The platform solves very complex challenges and enables us to better serve our customers.

Bill Fiore
Director of Operations , DCNE

Getting buy-in for eCommerce

The initial investment for ecommerce and PIM may have been a sticker shock for DCNE at first, but they knew their long-term viability was predicated on injecting value in the channel, and that they had to own ecommerce. They could not afford to rely on a third-party developer’s roadmap or somebody else’s content.

For DCNE, introducing ecommerce was never about eliminating jobs.  In fact, when they planned for ecommerce, they knew it would help to create even more jobs and enhance and streamline the way in which the sales force and sales support associates would serve their customers.

With the help of Absolunet, an end-to-end eCommerce agency, DCNE assembled an ecommerce team and identified their ecommerce requirements. When prioritizing their ecommerce requirements, DCNE considered impact, cost and complexity of each of the features. After about 10 months, they were ready to launch their site.

Transformational results and high praise

DCNE’s ongoing investments in eCommerce have gained major industry recognition including being publicly referred to as the “Amazon of HVAC” by Supply House Times. DCNE’s site search tool is among the best in the industry.

Each piece of large equipment and all the tools and parts (including items that must be backordered) are listed and available for purchase on their website. Salespeople and customers are now saving time through DCNE’s modern quote management dashboard. The customer portal is a one-stop-shop for the majority of interactions.

Sales representatives can easily go in, create a proposal, and forward it along to the customer. Once the customers are ready to place their orders they can simply click, accept, and check out. Additionally, they can easily choose the closest warehouse to pick up orders and receive status notifications on their order.  DCNE also provides helpful recommendations of associated products to customers at checkout and all online promotions.

Ecommerce has even enabled DCNE to break down walls and divides that previously existed in the company. Traditionally, DCNE had separate sales teams for equipment and parts. The problem was the equipment team never felt comfortable talking about parts and conversely the parts team was not comfortable talking about equipment. With ecommerce, that division no longer exists. More of DCNE’s orders include equipment and parts because there is no divide, and sales personnel are more empowered to sell the entire breadth and scope of products.

In addition, many sales representatives have years of knowledge with DCNE’s products and can recall certain product SKU’s off the top of their heads. DCNE needed everyone at that knowledge level.  It once took six to twelve months to train a new salesperson; however, with ecommerce DCNE has been able to cut training time in half!

On DCNE’s original platform, ecommerce sales were around 2.5% of their total sales, with 8,000 SKUs represented online. Today DCNE is marching toward 30% online by the end of 2020 with more than 115,000 SKUs populated on the site.  

Looking ahead

DCNE’s main goal is to drive as much business online as possible.  For many distributors, Amazon is the enemy.  Although DCNE has earned the reputation as ‘The Amazon of HVAC’’, this is the opposite of how they wish to be viewed.  While Amazon leverages scale and automation to drive transactions, DCNE leverages technology to minimize low value-add transactions and free up their employees so they can focus on delivering value in other areas.

Whatever happens, one thing is clear: DCNE will continue to do whatever they can to make sure their customers are completely satisfied. 

Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud has a ton of strong B2B features right out-of-the-box. The platform solves very complex challenges and enables us to better serve our customers.


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