Creating jobs and building stronger communities through trust, honesty and integrity

In 1988, Phil Ferris dreamed up a mission: employ as many people as possible. Phil wanted to create jobs so people could support their families and build stronger communities. Phil’s desire to create opportunities for others led him to found Cogent Solutions & Supplies, a California-based distributor of packaging, logistics and warehouse solutions and automation equipment.

Trust, honesty and integrity were important values to Phil. They remain engrained in Cogent’s culture to this day. These values have made Cogent the packaging partner that delivers more clarity, more guidance and more expertise for the agriculture, food processing, grocery, healthcare, hospitality, retail, manufacturing and distribution industries.

Cogent has earned the most trusted reputation in the industry by providing unmatched services and focusing on the success of their employees, customers and suppliers.

At Cogent, complacency is never an option. Cogent leaders are constantly looking toward the future and thinking about how they can continue to honor Phil’s legacy. To build a stronger future and respond to evolving customer expectations, Cogent voyaged into eCommerce.

Making customers’ jobs easier

Cogent first played their hand at eCommerce with an on-prem solution that was linked to their ERP. The solution was a dated storefront that did not provide the experiences customers were looking for. Cogent wanted to make it as easy and efficient as possible for customers to place orders online.

The company knew they had to get eCommerce right the second time around. So they pulled in various people to form an eCommerce selection committee that included the purchasing, leadership, product management, marketing and eCommerce teams. The team defined their eCommerce requirements as:

  • Integration into the Infor A+ ERP
  • Real-time pricing and inventory
  • Customization for specific accounts
  • Product customization
  • List functionality
  • Ability to easily repeat orders
  • Vendor Managed Inventory
  • Mobile App
  • User-friendly

Optimizely B2B Commerce met all the requirements.

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We were looking for three primary things when we were on the hunt for the right eCommerce platform. This platform provides ease of use, deep integration with our ERP and the ability to provide a custom experience.

Wendy Cypert
General Manager and eCommerce Director, Cogent Solutions & Supplies

Leveraging the B2B functionality within Optimizely B2B Commerce

Cogent leverages the “List Management” functionality within Optimizely B2B Commerce to offer a catered experience to their customers. Many of their customers have repeat orders. They order the same set of products most of the time. They don’t want to go hunt around every time they need to make an order. Leveraging lists, customers are able to easily go in to Optimizely B2B Commerce, place their order and get on with their day.

A few months after launching Optimizely B2B Commerce, Cogent also launched the Optimizely B2B Commerce Mobile App.

With the mobile app, Cogent’s salespeople are able to help customers manage their inventory. The team can go online and see the information they need anytime. The Optimizely B2B Commerce Mobile App allows salespeople to easily help manage inventory behind a desk or in the field. With Optimizely B2B Commerce, salespeople can go in and impersonate any customer accounts without having to go into the ERP to find information. Salespeople now enjoy 24/7 access to the product catalog whenever they need it.

Cogent’s new world with Optimizely B2B Commerce

Today, customers can go online and self-serve through the website and the mobile app. They can easily look up invoices online, check order status and more. For Cogent, investing in eCommerce was always about making customers’ lives easier, first and foremost. But other areas of the business have seen the benefits of eCommerce as well.

In an industry where products can quickly become commoditized, Cogent has to find ways to add value to their customers. They can’t just sell boxes or paper towels and be done with it – they wouldn’t survive if that was their go-to-market-strategy. The new eCommerce experience enables Cogent to add more value and build deeper relationships. Now that they are spending less time on tedious tasks like checking order status or invoices, the sales team is able to be more consultative in the sales process.

Cogent has also increased share of wallet with existing customers. Through content strategy, segmenting, promotions and personalization, Cogent is seeing increased average order sizes on eCommerce orders.

Since implementing Optimizely B2B Commerce in July 2018, online sales have more than doubled. Prior to that, Cogent was seeing about 6% of sales online. Today, they see nearly 20% of sales online.

As Cogent looks to the future, they are focused on propelling growth forward. Cogent is working hand-in-hand with Optimizely to improve the website and continue offering customers and sales reps better experiences. The packaging industry has been around for decades, but, Cogent is a distributor ahead of its time.


Manufacturing and distribution

Product used

Customer's website