At a glance

  • 400% increase in active online users
  • 47% increase in sales year-over-year
  • 16 average repeat orders per user

Propelling a 124-year-old business forward through digital transformation

For more than 100 years, First Supply has been servicing the building community. Founded as a family-owned supplier of pumps and windmills in 1897, First Supply has evolved into the single source supplier that most Midwestern contractors rely on for plumbing, HVAC, municipal, waterworks, well & septic, builder PVF and industrial supplies.

Covering the Upper Midwest through 28 locations, 14 Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Stores, four Kohler Signature Stores and a Distribution Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, First Supply’s mission is to provide customers with quality products and services in a timely, accurate and cost-effective manner.

First Supply is dedicated to bending over backwards to serve their customers and greater communities. As an early adopter of eCommerce, First Supply originally ran Infor Storefront to power their online customer experience. However, the platform was not meeting the needs or expectations of their customers.

First Supply workers lined up

Adapting to a changing industry

To be in business for more than 100 years, you have to be doing something right. First Supply has always listened to the needs of their customers and adapted alongside an evolving industry. First Supply recognized that customers were going online to research products and that they valued experience-driven approaches. First Supply quickly realized that in order to stay in business and thrive for the next 100 years, they had to invest in eCommerce and build a team to champion it.

Midwest values and strong work ethic shines through

First Supply set out to find an eCommerce partner to help them get started. Originally, First Supply was attracted to Insite Software (acquired by Optimizely in December 2019) because the company’s Midwestern values matched those instilled in First Supply since their inception.

Other important eCommerce requirements for First Supply included:

  • An intuitive administration console
  • A branded mobile app
  • Built-in integration to InRiver PIM
  • Multi-site capability
  • Robust analytics and powerful dashboards
  • Deep B2B experience
  • Analyst-validated platform
  • Customer-specific pricing

In addition to First Supply’s ecommerce requirements, they wanted a partner that could work closely with AD (Affiliated Distributors). Leveraging AD’s eContent solution allowed them to focus their efforts on site development and implementation, which meant they were able to launch more quickly with a complete product offering. Together, with AD and Optimizely, First Supply knew they could take their business to new heights and compete with big players.

I’ve worked with vendors and companies where you are just a number. That’s not the case with Insite [Optimizely]. We have provided recommendations that end up on the product roadmap. It’s a true partnership and the team makes us feel valued.

Tim Winter
Director of eCommerce, First Supply

Selecting Optimizely

First Supply selected Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud because it met all of First Supply’s unique eCommerce requirements with native B2B functionality.

Customers are raving about

Since implementing Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud, customers are extremely satisfied with First Supply’s digital experience. Customers now enjoy 24/7 access to First Supply’s product catalog at their fingertips. They are able to self-serve and discover products they didn’t even know First Supply offered.

First Supply continues to receive customer feedback and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Customers most enjoy real-time inventory by warehouse, the ability to access their order history and customer-specific pricing. Customers are enabled online and their jobs are easier than ever.

First Supply is seeing four times more active users on the new website compared to when they were leveraging Infor Storefront. In addition, February 2020 sales were up 47 percent from the previous year. Gross profit and average order value have also increased.

Apart from the statistics, First Supply has also seen incredible business value out of eCommerce. The team is much more efficient. Sales representatives are now being freed up from mundane tasks like taking phone calls and checking order status. Today, they have the ability to add more value.

Offering continued education and training

First Supply is focused on helping their customers understand the tools available to them. From the eCommerce website to the mobile app, they are seeing high adoption across the board.

Considering First Supply has been around for more than 100 years, many of their customers have been doing business with them for decades. Even long-term customers who are more used to traditional forms of communication, are excited and happy with the tools available to them.

Furthermore, First Supply has launched a social media campaign to promote adoption of the site. They offer their customers “Pro Tips” about the site to help them navigate the online ordering process.

The eCommerce team is also offering the First Supply sales team support and education. Many salespeople in B2B roles across various industries tend to see eCommerce as their competition. However, the First Supply team recognizes the value eCommerce can bring not only to their roles but also to their customers. 

Looking ahead

First Supply is always looking for ways to better serve their customers. Down the line they plan to leverage more built-in functionality in the Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud like cross-sell, upsell and related products to further personalize the experience for their customers. They also plan to make enhancements to search and continuous improvements to their mobile app.

They hope to drive greater adoption of the site and acquire more customers, while making improvements to their digital tools.

Above all, First Supply will do whatever it takes to keep their customers happy. They are looking forward to evolving and maturing together in partnership with Optimizely.


Manufacturing and distribution

Product used

Customer's website