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Eastern Industrial Supplies Logo

When People are More Important than Profits, Business Flourishes

Eastern Industrial Supplies Logo

When People are More Important than Profits, Business Flourishes

Member of AD, ASA, Supply Force

Fully functional eCommerce platform integrated to Epicor Eclipse ERP

Founded in 1980, launched InsiteCommerce in July 2019

Eastern Cares

Most companies have mission statements and values hanging on their walls or printed in their employee handbook. But few of them infuse their mission and values into every aspect of their business. Eastern Industrial Supplies is one of those rare few.

For nearly 40 years, Eastern Industrial Supplies has been driven by the missions of caring for their employees, serving their customers with respect and integrity and spreading positivity to their community, their country and the world. These missions are engrained in the way Eastern serves their customers throughout the United States.

Eastern established the Eastern Cares program in 2002, dedicated to the four main “Cs” of caring and focusing on Company, Community, Country, and Culture. Whether it’s an Associate Emergency, Educational, or Scholarship Fund, Adoption Assistance, Marriage Enrichment, Bible/Book Studies, Wellness Program, or the on-site Chaplains, caring for People, Community, Country, and Cultures is what it’s all about.

As a traditional wholesale distributor of industrial pipe, valves, fittings, mechanical supplies, commercial plumbing, and engineered products, Eastern knows that providing customers with the material and services they need contributes to the development of communities locally and abroad.

Extensive inventory, knowledgeable associates and the willingness to go the extra mile is what Eastern customers expect, and that’s why they keep coming back.

People Over Profits

Kip Miller, President and CEO of Eastern, has a desire to conduct business in God-honoring ways which has been a key driving factor in the company’s success. Miller believes that as long as you are surrounded with people that care, and aren’t just looking to make a dollar, people will keep coming back. Miller has built a culture focused on caring about people and doing what’s right.

In a world full of large conglomerate companies, Eastern Industrial Supplies is still a privately held independent distributor – and that shows in the company’s dedications to their people and customers.

Many Eastern customers have been around for decades. Why? Because employees have fostered long-term, deep relationships with them. At Eastern, business goes far beyond a transaction. It’s about people and relationships. Miller believes that as long as Eastern takes care of their customers, customers will take care of the company.

Eastern’s focus on their people has never changed. But technology and customer expectations have. Eastern’s employee focus meant the company had to make some changes to build a better future. In order to enable customers and employees to be more efficient, streamline processes and grow the business, Eastern ventured into eCommerce. This is their story.

An Uncommon Champion Drives Digital Change

When your company truly cares about people, it’s likely that your people will care about your company. That’s certainly the case for Dennis Karpinski, a veteran Eastern employee who has been with the company for over 18 years.

Karpinski began his journey with Eastern as the Corporate Controller. For 17 years, Karpinski dedicated his talents to accounting and technology. But in 2018 his passion for technology, a vision for the digital growth of Eastern, and the hunger for a challenge led him down a new path.

Today, Dennis Karpinski is the Director of eCommerce and Business Analysis. He helped build Eastern’s eCommerce strategy from the ground up. We talked with Karpinski to understand just how Eastern did it.

Getting Buy-In

Eastern started its Ecommerce journey around 2014, realizing that times were changing. Customers were looking for easier ways to buy. Competitors were building eCommerce programs. Younger generations were entering the workforce. In order to survive, the company had to transform.

At that time, Karpinski presented his vision for what eCommerce could look like to the Eastern management team. Fast forward several years and after much research, planning, and hard work by the eCommerce Team, Eastern was ready to begin its digital transformation.

Partnering for Success

Early on, Eastern realized the value in creating an eCommerce Team to see this process through. Under the leadership of Meagan Owen, VP of Organizational Effectiveness and utilizing the talents of Savanna True, Innovation Coordinator, Josh Page, IT Director, and Dennis Karpinski, Director of eCommerce & Business Analysis, Eastern’s eCommerce Team was ready for the challenge.

Eastern began their digital journey with trusted analyst and advisory firm, B2X Partners. The company guided Eastern in the eCommerce platform evaluation process and was instrumental in helping to narrow down solutions that fit Eastern’s needs.

Once InsiteCommerce was selected as the platform for Eastern, Xngage was selected as the implementation partner. Xngage took the plan formulated between Eastern and B2X Partners, used it as the foundation for their solution, and brought it to life. Xngage’s knowledge of InsiteCommerce, integration with Epicor Eclipse, and their ability to listen to and implement their wants and needs resulted in a deeply integrated and custom B2B solution.

The team set some requirements which included but were not limited to:

  • Tight integration with the Eclipse ERP
  • Intuitive, user friendly platform
  • Mobile app
  • Complex product management and configuration
  • Customer Specific Catalog and Experience
  • Multi-site capabilities
  • Promotions and merchandising functionality
  • Approval workflows, SEO and marketing
  • Shipping integration
  • Shipping management
  • Cloud solution
  • PunchOut capabilities
  • Request for Quote

According to Karpinski, after a few discussions, Insite became the clear winner.

“I like to use a car analogy. One platform reminded me of a Camry – it was very functional and dependable. But the other [Insite] reminded me of a Lexus. It had all the functionality and dependability of the other platform, plus all the bells and whistles. All in a package that is more intuitive and allows us to better serve our customers,” said Karpinski.

Apart from Karpinski’s affinity for a great user experience, ultimately one of the biggest deciding factors was Insite’s roadmap.

“Insite had a very clear, detailed roadmap. We could see a clearly defined feature path well into the future. Insite’s roadmap sealed the deal for us. They are forward-thinking and focused on making distribution businesses like ours future-proof.”

– Dennis Karpinski, Director of eCommerce & Business Analysis

“Insite had a very clear, detailed roadmap. We could see a clearly defined feature path well into the future. Insite’s roadmap sealed the deal for us. They are forward-thinking and focused on making distribution businesses like ours future-proof.”

– Dennis Karpinski, Director of eCommerce & Business Analysis

“Insite had a very clear, detailed roadmap. We could see a clearly defined feature path well into the future. Insite’s roadmap sealed the deal for us. They are forward-thinking and focused on making distribution businesses like ours future-proof.”

– Dennis Karpinski, Director of eCommerce & Business Analysis

Eastern's Vision is Now a Reality

Amerhart eCommerce Website

In July 2019, Eastern launched its eCommerce website with InsiteCommerce. Their solution is focused on providing customer specific pricing, punchout capabilities, stock availability, order management, bar code enabled search, and quick access to enriched product content; all available 24/7 from your desktop or mobile device.

Eastern was able to easily customize the InsiteCommerce platform to accommodate their unique transaction flows and exceed customer expectations. The website not only makes it easier for customers to do their jobs, it’s also impacting Eastern employees.

“With Insite, we’ve made our associates’ lives better. Sales associates spend less time on calls for ‘Is this in stock?’, ‘Send me a copy of an invoice or proof of delivery’, and manually entering price quotes. This allows our associates the time to foster deeper relationships and leverage their knowledge to solve customer problems and win more business,” said Karpinski.

Karpinski is leading the charge in getting customers onboarded and registered on easternfirst.com. Whether it’s visiting a customer for a face-to-face demo, answering questions over the phone, or conducting a live screen share session, the goal is the same; helping customers and associates utilize and benefit from this new solution.

Early Success

Just a few months after the launch of InsiteCommerce, Eastern has seen some major progress. Customer feedback has been positive and it’s clear people are becoming more efficient.

“Overall, feedback has been great. Customers love the clean design of the site and they can easily navigate to products by clicking a menu item, searching, using the quick order feature, and easily submit small and large requests for quote,” said Karpinski.

Eastern has seen an early increase in site traffic, self-service events, and orders placed after initially submitting a request for quote.

Just 2 months after go-live, Eastern has seen tremendous results:

More than 9,500 page views

More than 1,200 self-service events

More than 2,000 mobile app events

What's Next?

The team at Eastern really is just getting started with eCommerce. Customers are awaiting the full launch of Eastern’s mobile app and are anxious to use native mobile capabilities like bar code scanning.

Phase 2 of eCommerce integration involves enabling customers to save their part number directly to the Eastern parts, UPS tracking information on orders, enabling customer payments via the Billtrust portal, allowing customers to attach files to orders and RFQs and more.

No matter what changes, one thing is certain. Eastern will do everything in their power to make sure that customers are just as happy with their eCommerce solution as they are with Eastern as a whole.

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