At a glance

  • 2X increase in monthly web visitors
  • 160,000 SKUs listed

Source Atlantic goes where no distribution business has gone before

More than 150 years ago, WH Thorne launched a merchandise hardware business with one basic philosophy: don’t say no. Over time, the products and services expanded, ownership changed, and the company even rebranded, but the customer-first philosophy has always held true. When customers come to Source Atlantic with challenges, the Source Atlantic team works with them to find a creative solution, no matter what.

Today, Source Atlantic offers plumbing and heating, electrical and industrial products and employs more than 500 people, with 24 branches across Canada. Source Atlantic partners with hundreds of world-class suppliers, offers a multitude of specialized and technical services and has many value-added business solutions designed to improve customers’ efficiency and productivity.

Source Atlantic is willing to go where no distribution company has gone before. They’ve built motors that extend up to 30,000 horsepower. They’ve created the most advanced corrosion coating available in the market today. They were even named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.

As time has passed, the market has evolved and customers’ expectations and needs have changed. But Source Atlantic has been right there with them identifying their needs and developing new solutions to help answer the problems that they’re having.

Source atlantic buildings

There are some B2B features that are standard in any eCommerce platform. But Episerver InsiteCommerce [now Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud], has advanced feature sets that allow us to develop a B2B solution that works perfectly

Matt Hanlon
Applied Innovation & Technology Manager, Source Atlantic

A focus on digital transformation

Source Atlantic knew that focusing on providing better digital experiences for their customers and their sales team was the only way to bring their business into the future. In 2011, the company began focusing on data and business intelligence. Transformation launched with an ERP upgrade and a Learning Management System implementation. The company is constantly monitoring data about inventory forecasting, sales history, usage data and more.

Digital transformation did not end with an ERP upgrade or an LMS deployment. ERPs are powerful but they are not built to power eCommerce experiences. ERPs have limitations in terms of finding items or using keywords.

In order to build a customer facing experience, Source Atlantic began their search for an eCommerce platform. The platform would enable the team to add products, bring in more enriched content and give customers the ability to search the catalog and find what they were looking for more efficiently.

In addition, account managers needed access to a portal that enabled them to share information about Source Atlantic products. Launching eCommerce was all about enabling the Source Atlantic team and their customers to do their jobs more efficiently.

Prior to investing in a more sophisticated eCommerce solution, Source Atlantic had a simplistic site designed for use by a few contract customers. The site had very few items and searchability was limited.

Source Atlantic knew that if they were going to do eCommerce right, they needed to gain control of their product catalog. As a member of AD (Affiliated Distributors), Source Atlantic had access to AD’s data feed and made content a core cornerstone of their eCommerce implementation. The bulk of Source Atlantic’s data comes into Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud through the AD content feed.

Selecting Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud 

Source Atlantic conducted rigorous research when seeking an eCommerce platform. They sent an RFQ, scheduled demos, talked with customers, consulted external companies, compared feature sets and more. Ultimately they chose Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud because of the platform’s focus on B2B and business user accessibility.

Growing share of wallet and driving engagement

In distribution, the majority of business typically comes from less than 20% of distributors’ customer base. Therefore, it is important to ensure repeat customers stay happy. In distribution, one benefit of eCommerce is often about growing and increasing share of wallet with larger, repeat customers.

Through training of salespeople, creation of portals and microsites, use of promotions and other eCommerce functionality, Source Atlantic has been laser-focused on growing their share of wallet.

Built-in SEO functionality is enabling customers to find more products. Customers are self-serving and account managers are now able to offer more consultative services because they aren’t spending time taking orders or checking statuses.

Source Atlantic is enabling their customers to do business with them however they choose. They aren’t forcing them to go online or go into the branch. Instead, Source Atlantic is creating channels that allow customers to do business more efficiently and however they choose. They are using a hybrid, multichannel approach.

Since launching the platform, Source Atlantic’s monthly web visitors have more than doubled. They are leveraging core B2B functionality in the platform like budget management tools, custom fields, requisition rules, complex pricing and more. They are working toward a greater share of wallet and are giving their customers better access to their catalog.

Over the next few years, Source Atlantic aims to manage customer assets, equipment and inventory. The goal is to build out a centralized digital dashboard or portal so customers can conduct business in one area.

Source Atlantic is a historic distributor. They have seen success by building a team made up of talented and passionate who are thinking about how they can help the company thrive in the future. They’re constantly thinking about how to make supply chain work in the 21st century.


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