We’ve built a site for the needs of our customers. When I look at our competitors, I can see they’ve been on this journey a lot longer than we have but we have plans in mind to better serve our customers. We might not be there yet, but we’re coming up quick.Carin SampsonVP of Human Resources & Marketing, IBT Industrial
IBT Industrial builds industry leading ecommerce platform with Optimizely
- 6,533% increase in site visitors from email campaigns
- 20% increase in new products purchased by online customers
- Increase in time- and cost-savings
IBT Industrial’s customer-first approach
With more than seven decades of success in the industrial supply field, IBT Industrial has grown from a humble mom-and-pop store founded in 1949 to an industry-leading force with 38 branches across nine states primarily in the Midwest.
IBT Industrial is a top industrial supplier focusing on small to mid-market manufacturing and industrial spaces. The business specializes in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products and has SMEs to support customers from agriculture, food and beverages, manufacturing and grain who are undergoing MRO works.
As the needs of customers are unique, IBT Industrial’s sales representatives are equipped with a broad knowledge of industrial products, from bearings to gears.
From day one of this family-owned business, staying in tune with its customers’ wants and needs has been the key to IBT Industrial’s success. One way it achieves this is by investing in its employees. With a three-year training program for new joiners and an average employee tenure of 15 years, IBT Industrial employees build long-lasting relationships with customers by solving problems with their deep understanding of industry needs.
The changing needs of digital-first customers
As its business grew, IBT Industrial invested in PunchOut and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for its procurement process to manage its non-exhaustive catalog and provide convenience to customers. IBT Industrial wanted to make sure that it was well-equipped for the newer, younger and more digitally savvy buyers that were entering the industry.
However, the IBT Industrial team soon realized that their digital channel had much room for improvement, as two in three customers interacting with IBT Industrial were looking for ways to self-serve including retrieving invoices, browsing purchase history and more.
Despite its relentless pursuit of meeting and going beyond customer expectations, IBT Industrial did not have a digital channel and ecommerce solution for engaging customers in mid-sized industrial distribution. This revelation came four years ago in 2018.
Paul Stubitsch, Chief Information Officer of IBT Industrial, shared that the team spent nine months analyzing the industry, competitors and themselves to determine their next steps. The conclusion? Embarking on a digital transformation journey was necessary for the business' survival.
IBT Industrial knew it had to act fast to keep up with other industry leaders. It needed a digital solution that would help to:
- Convey IBT Industrial’s value to customers in an impactful manner
- Simplify IBT Industrial’s complex offerings and services
- Address the shift in demographics of customers and employees to a digital-first approach
- Expand ways to communicate and engage with customers
- Allow customers to self-serve on-the-go
IBT Industrial builds its ideal digital solution by listening to customers
For a business new to digital, IBT Industrial began digitizing its manual internal processes including those related to freight, pricing, taxes and order fulfillments to be ready to support its organization-wide digital transformation.
Once the team was ready, IBT Industrial kickstarted the platform selection process with eight companies. While there were a few solutions that caught the eye of IBT Industrial, Optimizely was ultimately chosen for its specific manufacturing and distribution focus within its B2B Commerce solution.
Optimizely’s out-of-the-box solutions and integration capabilities with ERP systems were appreciated by the IBT Industrial team, as they felt that the solution understood their needs as distributors that deal with ERP systems daily.
IBT Industrial also identified Xngage as its Optimizely partner. The IBT Industrial team shared that Xngage truly listened to them, are knowledgeable about Optimizely’s solutions and how to best leverage the wide-ranging capabilities to help the business meet its goals.
Carin Sampson, VP of Human Resources and Marketing, viewed Xngage as a strategic partner to the IBT Industrial business. She shared that the Xngage team was not just executing on the business’ vision, they were also providing IBT Industrial with insights and useful suggestions to facilitate the digital transformation fit for mid-market B2B customers.
Before they got to work, the IBT Industrial team spent a good amount of time collecting customer feedback and listening to customer expectations. This served as a digital transformation compass for IBT Industrial to deliver a digital experience that would be on par with its renowned in-person experience.
By leveraging Optimizely’s Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Configuration capabilities geared towards B2B needs, IBT Industrial’s new digital solution helps internal teams add and manage its extensive catalog in a simplified manner.
IBT Industrial also successfully showcased its product information richness with logical and robust content and visuals that provide their B2B customers with a consumer-like shopping experience using the robust Catalog Management.
In addition, Optimizely’s intuitive product search helps both employees and customers locate products swiftly. The AI-powered Search & Navigation predicts customers’ keyword search and displays relevant results for a frictionless search and shopping experience.
Optimizely’s List Management capabilities also enabled IBT Industrial to facilitate quick orders for regular customers. Customers can do so via their order history or uploading previous orders onto the platform.
IBT Industrial accounted for questions customers may have about these new digital processes and prepared useful tutorial videos and FAQs that address queries clearly by leveraging the Content Management feature to create its Knowledge Center. The Knowledge Center also houses practical content including website features, a user guide, site improvements and updates as well as a feedback page.
Content management is further leveraged to deliver exceptional content experiences that help customers understand how IBT Industrial can help them go further in their industry. From industry news to IBT news, product comparison to how-to guides, content is available for customers across the board.
A large part of why customers choose IBT Industrial is its ability to source customized solutions and even reverse engineer parts that are no longer on the market.
Despite moving to a more systemic solution to product management, IBT Industrial stays true to helping customers solve even the most customized problems by providing a ‘Request Product’ form that allows customers to detail their specific needs.
Optimizely’s Analytics has helped IBT Industrial understand customers better through their purchases, browsing history and personas.
With a digital solution that was intuitive for tech-savvy customers while taking into consideration new digital customers, IBT Industrial and Xngage built an industry-leading platform that went beyond customer expectations.
IBT Industrial’s digital transformation pays off
The ease of searching for products on IBT Industrial’s new ecommerce platform has increased online customers’ new products purchased by 20%. This behavior is expected to persist, as customers can browse IBT Industrial’s catalog on the go as well as continuously engage digitally with the site.
IBT Industrial’s intuitive website helps customers locate products swiftly, keep up with industry news, request specific products, and more B2B-targeted functionalities, IBT Industrial also experienced an increase in site traffic, a testament to the success of its digital transformation.
In the first two weeks of the website’s launch, the number of site visitors from email campaigns in the two weeks post-launch was equivalent to the total number of visitors from email campaigns in the previous year. This increase can be attributed to the rich product content that linked visitors seamlessly from emails to the website with clear visuals and key product information, resulting in an impressive 6,533% increase in site visitors from email campaigns.
IBT Industrial’s new digital solution has also helped the team understand customers better by analyzing customer behavior and preferences. This has helped shape its development and marketing roadmaps, including content and search strategies.
With many of its manual processes including content, order and product management streamlined, IBT Industrial’s customers can self-serve, anytime, anywhere. The IBT Industrial team is also benefitting from this time-saving and cost-efficient approach, empowering them to focus on improving existing processes and experiences including strategic planning or account management.
IBT Industrial paves its way for a continuously customer-centric digital solution
This is just the start of IBT Industrial’s digital transformation journey, and it has set its sights on bigger goals including leveraging personalization to deliver targeted marketing.
IBT Industrial also plans to constantly improve its digital experience to make it more helpful and supportive to reach out to new business customers while maintaining the personalized relationship aspect for which the business is well-known.
The team also plans to extend personalization into other aspects including technical-focused content delivery and quotations in the coming year.
While IBT Industrial is off to a great start, the team believes they still have much more untapped potential in serving their B2B customers digitally compared to major industry players. They believe that by leveraging Optimizely for their upcoming plans, they will soon join the ranks of market leaders.