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Premium Vehicle Accessory eCommerce Website

Thule Logo

Premium Vehicle Accessory eCommerce Website

Overview

Thule is a global provider of premium vehicle accessories including roof racks, sports carriers, and other recreational products. As the recognized leader in the industry, Thule successfully sold its products through a network of dealers and distributors, but had one major challenge: Thule’s B2B eCommerce site had an adoption rate of 10% while other industry leaders showed rates near 80%. In order to maintain their position as an industry leader, Thule knew that its existing B2B eCommerce site would need considerable renovation.

Challenge

Annie Scopel, Director of North American Customer Service at Thule, was in charge with finding a suitable solution for the new eCommerce initiative. “I knew B2B eCommerce was something that had to be addressed. When I brought the issue up to management, they suggested that I spearhead the project.” With little experience in the world of eCommerce, Scopel knew that she needed to find an eCommerce platform that met Thule’s complex business rules including managing inventory in multiple locations, but one that was also attractive and intuitive enough that their dealers and distributors would want to use the site.

Thule’s new site design required a user-centric front end that allowed its dealers and distributors to easily order the products they require each season. With a product catalog of more than 10,000 unique items and 5,000,000 price records associated with individual distribution, manufacturing, and retail customers, Thule’s site needed to present each customer with a personalized product catalog based on site login credentials. The ordering process needed to take multiple warehouse locations in multiple countries into account and process the order from the most appropriate location while supporting multiple currencies.

Solution

Thule’s corporate digital marketing department selected InsiteCommerce®, the preferred eCommerce platform for integration with Sitecore, to power the new Thule B2B site. The challenges for the launch team spread across two continents, multiple time zones, and language barriers. This highlighted the importance of working with a single eCommerce provider like Insite Software.

Thule’s implementation partner, Nish Tech, Inc., who specializes in integration for both Sitecore and InsiteCommerce platforms, further reinforced success for the project. Nish Tech helped Thule fully leverage InsiteCommerce’s B2B capabilities such as the price matrix framework, user mapping to multiple customers, and complex shipping rules. Using their integration expertise, Nish Tech also facilitated the custom integration with Thule’s Oracle ERP system. According to Suresh Devanan, Nish Tech president and CEO, “InsiteCommerce’s software developer kit made it easy for us to implement some very complex functionality.” In November 2012 Thule successfully launched their B2B eCommerce site, thuleconnect.com, for both the United States and Canada, with Canada identified as a new market for Thule.

Results

Since going live, the site has received positive feedback from Thule’s retailers and sales people alike. The site’s user adoption rate in Canada doubled in the first two months—far exceeding their expectations particularly for a new market. The current adoption rate is 30%, which is now comparable to industry standards. One key to that success might be that the site is presented in both English and French. “We received incredible feedback from our customers about the new site,” says Scopel. “Many feel that Thule Connect is one of the best B2B sites they have used. And our salespeople tell us that the new site has changed their lives.”

Feedback on Thule Connect from Thule’s Dealer Survey includes the following from an anonymous responder: “Very user-friendly compared to other online order entry tools I use… Thank you for making our work easy…It’s a very helpful and useful tool for us!…It makes our orders easier! We can see the inventory in real time and don’t have to call customer service, so we save time and the customer knows exactly if an item is in backorder.”

Now that www.thuleconnect.com is live, its use is continually evolving. Thule has started managing other business functions with the site—for example, automation of pre- booking orders for the spring season, which is a large portion of their business. This automation influenced a 7% decrease in call volume, which allowed customer service representatives to improve their average time to dealer calls by 32%.

Dealers have more time for value-added sales activities like consulting, that positively impact sales, because pre-booking orders was streamlined and customer service had faster response times. For example, in Canada, Thule’s new market, the number of orders over the past 12 months increased by 2.5 times and the dollar amount of sales doubled. Overall, the volume of North American sales increased by 20%.

“As a director of customer service, moving pre-booking to the Thule Connect site has had a positive impact on our service performance,” says Scopel. “Our call volume has decreased significantly so we can respond to calls more quickly and provide better service—which benefits everyone.”

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