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The Granite Group Logo

B2B eCommerce Website

The Granite Group Logo

B2B eCommerce Website

Overview

The Granite Group is a full-service wholesale distributor providing plumbing, heating, cooling, water and propane supplies. The Granite Group services Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire with over 30 branches and 16 Ultimate Bath Stores. The Ultimate Bath showrooms allow customers to view products and consult sales staff available to guide them through the kitchen and bath plumbing options. Today The Granite Group has grown to over 400 employees and customers continue to value the service, relationship and local aspects of the company.

Challenge

With the changing direction of the industry and the amount of research their customers were doing online, The Granite Group concluded that eCommerce could no longer be put on the backburner. In order to compete with some of the major players in the industry, The Granite Group tasked Insite Software with providing a robust online catalog available to their customers 24/7. Prior to enlisting the solutions that Insite Software offers, The Granite Group uncovered that their customers were going to their current eCommerce solution, a web portal provided by their ERP, and abandoning the site 80% of the time. Therefore, The Granite Group needed to provide a solution that was intuitive, easy to use, featured robust cataloging, and had the modern web interface people have come to expect. Additionally, the solution would need to reduce the cost of self-serving existing customers, and provide robust promotional capabilities to allow customers to take advantage of promotions both online and offline.

“Our previous system was just an access point to our ERP. It didn’t make sense to our customers. They were signing up, but then never using the site. They were telling us they had a need that the current solution couldn’t meet. Our ERP is focused from the inside-out, we needed a solution that was for the customer, an outside-in view, if you will. For instance, ERP has no concept of catalog and a robust catalog with images and taxonomy is an absolute must for ecommerce,” said Coburn Flannery, Director of eBusiness.

“It was also important to have the ability to market, cross-sell, up-sell and promote. Once the catalog is in place and customers are able to seamlessly transact, you want to be able to engage with them. B2B customers are different than B2C, they aren’t shopping, they’re ordering and looking for solutions. It’s important to be able to present optional and compatible products front and center. Customers have the option to engage with our competition as well, but it is our goal to keep them on our site, and with a robust promotions engine we can do that and entice them to buy items from us that they might not be buying today,” added Flannery.

The Granite Group recognized the importance of a B2B omnichannel experience for both the customers, and the sales and support staff at The Granite Group.

“We don’t want to be an Amazon, we want to have Amazon-like transactional capabilities online, but we also want to be able to support the local branches and keep those relationships…you really have to have things in place that enable those relationships and make them better. It’s about the efficiencies you gain,” said Flannery.

Streamlining processes and moving some of the order filling online would allow sales representatives to focus on building relationships and providing their product expertise.

“Our sales associates are a value add to our customers. They have a lot of industry knowledge about the solutions we provide. But, they are also very busy and when they are on the phone taking commodity orders, that frankly anyone can do, their value is diminished because they’re not available for the important calls that require their expertise. The website should be there for our customers 24/7. With the robust catalog, ease of transactions, and other features like shopping lists and re-ordering, allowing customers to self-service on the commodity items so the sales associates can focus on solution selling,” Flannery added.

With The Granite Group’s changing marketplace, any platform would need to constantly change to adapt and meet the demands of the market, stay relevant and be able to offer new functionalities.

“That’s been a great thing about Insite and their roadmap. It’s clear where the platform is going and that Insite is out there looking at what’s going on, listening to customers and figuring out what we need to do next. That’s important to us because the technology landscape changes quickly. It allows us to focus on what we do, servicing our customers, knowing that Insite has their eye on what’s next.” said Flannery.

Solution

Upon concluding that they needed to invest in eCommerce, The Granite Group looked beyond a simple portal from their ERP vendor for a robust B2B solution. With a simple web portal, the data was not there and the structure for the data was not there. The Granite Group needed a solution that would provide cataloging and taxonomy ability to display and store rich data.

“It’s about trust. When people come to your site and they don’t get that rich data experience, or you don’t have a system that can deliver it to them, they start to lose trust in the site because that’s kind of the baseline that you need these days in order to stay relevant,” said Flannery.

Great user experience capabilities and flexibility were also important to The Granite Group in making their decision. They did not want a static, cookie cutter website. They needed something that was capable of shifting with the needs of their industry and had some open APIs. Insite Software was also able to seamlessly integrate with The Granite Group’s ERP, Infor SXe, which was essential in the success of the project.

“Closed technology stacks are a thing of the past. You need to develop stacks that have the know-how and capabilities to integrate. Insite gets that,” Flannery added.

Results

Since incorporating Insite Software, The Granite Group has been analyzing the shift from full-service channels to self-service channels. They have seen an increase of online orders by more than 50% year-over-year and estimates that by 2020 eCommerce could account for up to 20% of their business.

Looking ahead, The Granite Group recognizes the importance of staying relevant, and they are looking forward to moving to InsiteCommerce in the Cloud very soon. They recognize the importance of having a deep relationship with Insite Software, and the value of knowing what is on the roadmap.

“The advantage of the cloud is that we will no longer have to deal with upgrades, and we will continue to stay current with Insite Software and take advantage of the expanded capabilities as they become available to us,” said Flannery.

The Granite Group’s next major focus will be on customer experience. They plan on analyzing the transactions customers are making online while also examining the bigger picture.

“We’re not just looking at statistics to say we had 20 page views this week and now we have 30 so things are looking up, instead we’re looking at what the data is telling us customers are doing and identifying how we shift and react to that. The data is telling you what your customers are doing and you need to leverage that to make the experience better and provide the solutions they’re asking for.” Flannery explained.

Success for The Granite Group means growing every year, adding employees, adding locations, adding products and vendors, satisfying customer needs in the products and lines that they are providing and growing their sales. Insite Software is instrumental in The Granite Group’s challenge to keep up with a transforming industry and remain among top competition.

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