At a glance

  • 13x growth in online sales
  • 4x increase in orders when digitally engaged
  • 25% more line items when digitally engaged

Providing all the right connections to customers since 1868

Founded in 1898, Dakota Supply Group (DSG) is a wholesale distributor of electrical, plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, communications, utility, automation and waterworks solutions.

DSG carries more than 65,000 products from top brands, with a team of specialists dedicated to providing customers with solutions that help them maximize their employees’ productivity and increase their company’s profitability. For over 120 years, DSG has built great vendor and customer relationships and sales representatives who deeply understand their customers and products.

Serving an extremely diverse customer base and eight major industries, DSG looked to simplify and improve their digital experience.

A limiting ecommerce system yielded less than 1 percent online sales

When DSG began their ecommerce journey, they originally deployed a system built by their ERP provider. However, the system presented a number of challenges, limiting their ability to manage and deliver an experience that met customers’ demands.

While leveraging their original system, DSG saw less than .2 percent online sales. They knew there was an untapped opportunity where digital was concerned, so they set out to grow online sales to 10 percent over the course of three years.

With aggressive goals to grow online sales and improve their customer experience, DSG began their hunt for the right technology provider.

Deep B2B capabilities were top of mind when selecting a new platform

DSG knew they couldn’t just put a bandage on their digital experience. They needed to overhaul the experience with a system that was built for distribution, from the ground up.

DSG was looking for a platform with an intuitive interface that could grant them control of the experience across their highly segmented business.

Other digital requirements included the ability to run targeted promotions and personalize by segments, customer-specific pricing, sophisticated search capabilities and the ability to handle tens of thousands of product SKUs and their relevant product information.

For DSG, mastering product content was also paramount to building a seamless customer experience. DSG sources their product data from multiple sources including the Industry Data Warehouse and AD and partners with Bravo Media and DDS. They needed to build out content their customers could trust and feed the data into the ecommerce engine.

DSG eventually decided to partner with Optimizely and leverage Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud because the platform met many of their requirements right out of the box. DSG also leverages Optimizely Mobile and B2B Commerce Analytics to power their digital experience.

At DSG, there’s nothing more important right now than digital acceleration. It’s all about improving the customer experience. We want it to be faster, simpler and easier for our customers to interact with DSG. With Optimizely, all of that is possible

Todd Sisson
Ecommerce Manager, Dakota Supply Group

Driving internal and external adoption

The entire DSG team bought into the new ecommerce platform early on. They brought the sales and marketing organizations onboard and showcased the business value of ecommerce. To promote internal adoption and buy-in, DSG leverages tactics like:

  • Weekly digital “Did You Know” communications
  • Weekly digital analytics updates that highlight successes and opportunities
  • Digital adoption reports
  • Regular sales team adoption performance updates

With B2B Commerce Cloud, DSG is able to free up their sales team to complete higher value tasks, while enabling their customers to self-serve. It’s a win-win.

DSG built a system with the customer top of mind. DSG never intended to force their customers to buy online. Instead, they focused on making business faster, simpler and easier through digital self-service.

Optimizing digital self-service

Today, more than ever, customers want to serve themselves online, sometimes without ever interacting with a salesperson. DSG has a robust strategy to optimize digital self-service through features of the B2B Commerce Cloud platform. Some of the features DSG focuses on most are:

  • List Management – DSG’s sales team creates lists of products and shares them with customers to create higher value and ease of purchase.
  • Account Management – Customers are able to view stages of orders, upload orders, manage lists, and review order history. DSG is committed to continuous improvement. They are focused on making enhancements to invoice and order search, which has helped speed up the process of finding an invoice or order.
  • Billpay Integration – In March 2020, DSG began the process of integrating Billpay so customers could pay their bills online. The integration drove a lot of activity to the website and DSG saw a 30 percent increase in registrations for an online account after announcing the feature.
  • B2B Commerce Search – Search has been absolutely crucial to the user experience at DSG. To optimize search, DSG dissects zero results and identifies synonyms or misspellings they can fix. In addition, they continuously improve keywords and combined words. They boost historical purchases and build customer group personas. The focus on enhancing search has yielded a four times conversion rate increase, three times revenue per session increase, five times session time increase and five times pageviews increase. In 2020, customers spent more than 12,500 hours online with DSG.
  • Product RecommendationsDSG leverages Optimizely Product Recommendations with B2B Commerce Cloud to deliver a personalized buying experience for their customers. They found that manual personalization and manual product recommendations was too cumbersome. With Product Recommendations, DSG harnesses the power of AI and machine learning to access years of omnichannel order history, current history and in-session behavior to recommend relevant products to their customers and deliver a hyper-personalized experience. DSG runs product recommendations on pages including brand detail, home, cart, my list, order confirmation, search results and others.  In just 30 days, 2.84 percent of DSG’s online orders were influenced by product recommendations. Learn more about DSG’s product recommendations strategy here.

The value of digitally engaged customers 

DSG puts an emphasis on driving digital self-service because it creates digitally engaged customers, which are essential to the overall growth of the business.

A digitally engaged customer is someone who interacts with DSG through the app, website or another digital channel. DSG tracks digitally engaged customers through a dashboard in B2B Commerce Analytics.

DSG has been analyzing digitally engaged customers and the value they have on the business. They’ve found that digitally engaged customers:

  • Place 4 times more orders than a non-digitally engaged customer
  • Buy 25% more line items on each order
  • Have an average order value 4 times higher than a non-digitally engaged customer

Thus far, 30 percent of DSG’s customers have registered for an account on 25 percent have logged on to the website and 20 percent have benefitted from a digital self-service event.

The future is bright 

Looking ahead, DSG has aggressive goals to increase digitally engaged customers, promote digital self-service, incorporate product recommendations and grow the business overall.

With robust product recommendations and personalization capabilities, DSG aims to increase lines per order, improve conversion rates, present products faster, increase engagement and grow revenue.

DSG is accelerating their digital roadmap and recognizes how important digital business is for DSG’s future. In 2021, they plan to focus on customer managed part numbers, build ship to features, incorporate chat and launch customer recommendations. By 2022, they plan to build out a project estimator, product calculators, SMS order tracking and other customer tools.

Prior to implementing Optimizely’s solutions, DSG saw less than .2% of business being conducted online. In early stages with Optimizely, they’ve seen that percentage increase 13 times. Optimizely is proud to be DSG’s partner in digital transformation.


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XNGAGE is a Digital Services firm focused on delivering Commerce Success in B2B for leading manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.
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