Midwest distributor of lumber and building materials, Amerhart makes a paradigm shift with Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud
Order count when customers use product lists
Increase in orders when digitally engaged
Registered users on amerhart.com
Inspiring Americans to Chase Their Dreams Since 1940
A white picket fence surrounding a 3-story house, a beautiful car and a high paying job. Every individual has a different version of their American dream. Over time, those dreams evolve.
Amerhart, a Midwest distributor of lumber and building materials, has been committed to working with people and communities to attain their American dreams since 1940 – whether that’s a new home, a deck or a complete kitchen remodel.
Just as dreams evolve, so too does technology. For a company that’s been in business for 75 years, it would be easy to fall back on doing business the way they’ve always done it. But that’s not the culture Amerhart has built. They’re shifting their business to account for advanced technology and evolving customer expectations. Amerhart is making a paradigm shift.
A commitment to change and service beyond the order
Amerhart is laser-focused on improving the lives of customers, employees and communities. Their promise goes Beyond the Order. Their service model is focused on providing a superior customer experience, from before an order is placed to after delivery occurs.
However, leadership at Amerhart has an understanding of the changing landscape. Customer expectations are evolving. The workforce is getting younger. More and more, people prefer to transact electronically when they can. Sales representatives are itching for more productive tools to do their jobs. That’s why Amerhart isn’t afraid of change.
Engrained in Amerhart’s culture is the idea of “bleeding [Amerhart] green.” Employees are willing to do whatever is in the best interests of Amerhart, but change still takes time. Over the last year and a half, Amerhart has introduced a lot of technology. They’ve deployed an Intranet, increased the use of collaboration tools to enhance communication across 10 branch locations, and transformed Amerhart.com from a static website to a dynamic online store focused on delivering the best possible user experience.
It speaks volumes about the culture at Amerhart. People are loyal. They’re all committed to the same end goal. They want to deliver the best possible experience for their customers. They want the company to be profitable, sustainable and forward-thinking.
From a turnkey, legacy platform to fully functional eCommerce
Amerhart first launched its ecommerce journey by deploying an online system built on a legacy platform provided by their ERP vendor. While the platform provided a tactical solution, it didn’t fully address the broader strategic goals the company had for ecommerce, and it could not provide the experiences customers expected. Product descriptions, searchability, account accessibility and personalization capabilities were just some of the limitations Amerhart sought to overcome.
While maintaining the personalized level of services its long-time customers valued, Amerhart noticed that younger buyers who were entering the workplace wanted a more consumer-like feel when placing their orders electronically. Amerhart knew it was time to reinvest and build something better. Led by CEO, Mark Kasper, they composed a team of ecommerce decision-makers including VP of IT, Rick Johnson, VP of Finance, Chad Warpinski and Director of IT Services, Nate Wotruba.
The team knew they needed a platform that would offer them fully functional ecommerce capabilities.
The hunt for the right B2B ecommerce platform
Amerhart wanted an ecommerce provider that was nimble and agile - a company that would put Amerhart first and listen to them for product feedback. Amerhart also knew that there was an important distinction between B2B and B2C ecommerce. They looked into platforms that were more B2C friendly like Magento, but trusted that they needed a B2B-based platform.
Amerhart searched for a platform that could accommodate the complexities of B2B, including capabilities for search, cart and checkout, integration to their PIM, inRiver and integration to their ERP, to name a few.
Gaining control of their product information was another important aspect of the ecommerce journey for Amerhart. Integrating the PIM with the ecommerce platform enables rich product information like product attributes to seamlessly flow to the site.
Amerhart’s site built on Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud would enable customers to easily self-serve, increase the team’s efficiencies, and help Amerhart deliver the unique and personalized content experiences their customers and prospects expected.
A paradigm shift improves the bottom line
Since incorporating B2B Commerce Cloud, Amerhart has made major strides. It’s clear that Amerhart has met the mark with their online offering. Today, Amerhart has over 4,000 registered users and aggressive goals to onboard and activate new customers.
A survey Amerhart conducted following the release of B2B Commerce Cloud revealed that customers were very likely to recommend amerhart.com. In fact, on a scale of 1-10, the average likelihood to recommend the site was 8.7.
The same survey gave Amerhart some helpful insight into what customers enjoyed about the site and what they would like to see improved.
When asked what Amerhart could do better online, one customer said, “Nothing. You already have way more information available to me online than any other company in the industry.”
Another customer said, “Your online ordering tools are excellent and easy to use.”
Feedback on the site has been overwhelmingly positive. Since launching in February 2019, Amerhart has grown exponentially month-over-month. An openness to change and a commitment to delivering the highest quality customer service are key factors that have made the ecommerce journey so successful.
Before implementing the new solution, order taking was labor-intensive. In the digital world, staff are finding they have better and faster access to meaningful information. Everyone has more time to give to making data-driven decisions based on self-service customer events and transactions.
Amerhart is seeing a significant increase in orders and revenue from digitally engaged customers (customers using the site). In fact, customers who are digitally engaged are placing 30 percent more orders than those who are not digitally engaged. The site is driving share of wallet as well, many customers are realizing the breadth of products Amerhart has available - products they wouldn’t have discovered previously.
Amerhart leverages specific capabilities to further online success
Catalog Management - Today, about 62 percent of Amerhart’s product catalog is available online. In the coming months, the team aims to build out the online catalog to 100 percent and continue to onboard new customers.
Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud Analytics - Using Optimizely’s B2B Commerce Cloud Analytics to measure success, the team feels it has the tools and data it needs to drive continuous improvement and strategic growth well into the future.
List Management - Utilizing APIs, Amerhart automates the creation of product lists for a targeted group of web users. They create up to six lists for each web user. Some examples of lists they are creating includes top 15 frequently purchased items and top five categories of products. Web users who had product lists placed twice as many orders on amerhart.com than those without product lists.
Product Recommendations - As Amerhart heads into their next phase of their ecommerce journey, they are exploring the potential of leveraging AI and machine learning to deliver product recommendations on the site.
Equipped with the right technology and the right partner, abundant data and feedback from engaged customers, and a team dedicated to innovation and collaboration, Amerhart is identifying new and better ways to deliver Beyond the Order so their customers and the communities they serve can continue chasing their American dreams. And that’s something we at Optimizely can get behind.
In Collaboration With:
Xngage is a Digital Services firm focused on delivering commerce success in B2B for leading manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. The Xngage team of B2B commerce experts fuses digital strategy with execution, delivers information and promotes cloud adoption to help transform their clients’ digital ecosystem with the goal to create impactful and relevant buyer and seller interactions in the connected digital world to maximize business impact.
I’ve been in both sides of eCommerce – B2B and B2C. I can tell you from my experience that B2C is simpler. Pricing, inventory levels and deliveries are all straight forward in B2C. B2B is far more complex with factors like customer contracts, special pricing, promotion, personalization, and deliveries to multiple branches. We needed to partner with a company that was in the B2B space and understood its complexities.
Nate WotrubaDirector of IT Services Amerhart
See the result at www.amerhart.com