Simplifying Würth LAC's B2B e-commerce business
Würth Group is the global market leader in the development, production, and sale of a large range of products for the wood, automotive and metal industries. Our client is Würth Louis and Company (Würth LAC), a subsidiary of Würth.
They were founded in 1975 and joined the Würth Group in 1997. As the West Coast's leading provider of quality products to the woodworking industry, they hold a product portfolio that includes many well-recognised brand names, such as Blum, Formica, Rev-A-Shelf, Knape & Vogt, Grass, Doellken Woodtape, ML Campbell, among others.
Würth LAC provide professional woodworkers with one source for all the products they use, need and want. They provide great service with a highly trained sales force and comprehensive product range which are distributed out of the company's 22 locations throughout the Western United States.
|Business focus||B2B distributor woodworking distributor|
|Areas of operation||West Coast, USA|
|Product portfolio||112,000+ SKUs|
For Würth LAC, managing sales is a far more complicated process compared to B2C companies. B2B orders, particularly in an industry like woodworking, involve a lot of planning, prerequisites, procedures, documentation, product information and delivery management to ensure businesses have the correct products at the right time.
A typical product sold by Würth LAC has multiple specifications, variations, adherence to local regulations, compatibility information, availability based on location, shipping options, shipping specifications etc. that need to be dealt with.
Even the pricing of a product depends on the quantity sold, agreements with the customer, individual credit terms, location etc. This is evidenced by their complicated product pages.
A typical order placed by a customer of Würth LAC comprises of more than 30 individual items and a total order quantity that exceeds hundreds. Traditionally, this process was handled by sales representatives and call centre agents who would place the order while in discussion with the client.
This process proved to be inefficient for both the customer and Würth LAC employees.
Würth LAC's Objectives
Würth LAC wanted its existing system to be upgraded to achieve the following objectives:
- Increase sales revenue.
- Improve customer‘s online buying experience.
- Provide customers the ability to self-manage activities that are currently being performed by sales representatives and customer service agents.
- Automate workflows and reduce the workload involved in back-office operations.
- Be easily discoverable by their target audiences.
- Manage all their product information, digital assets and marketing collateral in one central location.
Würth LAC Version 1
Version 1 was an upgrade to Würth LAC's 10-year-old legacy e-commerce system. The ERP backed e-commerce system comprised of the following 5 subsystems connected to one another through middleware:
- Pimcore - Manages all product related information (excluding pricing and inventory) including images, specifications, documentation, restrictions etc.
- ERP - Stores all the information related to product pricing and their inventory levels based on each location.
- Identity and Access Manager - A custom built IAM to support the user access requirements of the company, since it was not supported out-of-the-box through the headless e-commerce framework.
- Headless e-commerce framework - Used to manage critical e-commerce functions used in the site.
- Frontend UI - A decoupled e-commerce storefront that connected with the backend using APIs.
Villvay built a self-service e-commerce platform that integrated the 5 systems above and hosted them on a private cloud as Version 1 of the new Würth LAC system.
This also included a massive data migration from the legacy system to the new system.
Würth LAC Version 2 - Challenges and Solutions
Würth LAC was confronted with challenges from Version 1 which was built upon tech and specifications inherited from the legacy system. Villvay addressed these challenges by focussing Würth LAC Version 2 on simplifying much of the complexity of Version 1.
Würth LAC Version 2 is engineered around MACH architecture, (Microservices, API driven, Cloud and Headless) which will help the platform scale seamlessly. It supports multiple storefronts on web, mobile, marketplaces etc., all of which provide the same user experience without the duplication of work and costs through a powerful backend.
Frontend UI of the website isn’t mobile responsive and doesn’t have accessibility features to suit the needs of every visitor.
Redeveloping the entire frontend of the system to be mobile responsive and support ADA compliance guidelines for those with disabilities.
Both Pimcore and the headless e-commerce framework have similar functionalities and were being used only for very specific purposes, resulting in duplication of work and higher costs. Additionally, most of the systems and tech used in the system required version upgrades to include the latest features.
Upgrading Pimcore to the latest version to support new functionalities including the e-commerce framework. This eliminated the need to use the custom IAM and headless e-commerce frameworks as separate services.
Search engine indexing, discoverability of the site/individual pages on the web is not functioning to effectively support SEO.
Redeveloping the frontend using an SEO friendly tech stack that will support web crawlers and page ranking.
The integrations between ERP, Pimcore, IAM and headless e-commerce framework were being mediated through middleware. The complexity of data being synchronised between each of these systems left not one single source of truth for data.
- Decoupling the communication middleware to support direct communication between the newly optimised Pimcore, ERP and frontend.
- Building a standalone file sync processor with a dashboard to measure the progress of data sync and data uploads. With this service, there will only be a single source of truth for information.
- Conducting routine database clean-ups to free up disk space and delete any duplicated information.
Lack of a proper audit trail and observability metrics that made it difficult to proactively identify system issues causing downtime and conducting root cause analysis for problems.
Observability tools were implemented to support MELT (Metrics, Events, Logs and Traces) and distributed request tracing.
Native Search wasn‘t geared to identify all the user search complexities and link it with the right product. This resulted in abandoned carts and lost sales.
Introducing attribute filters, facilitating intelligent search features and enhancing native search with Pimcore and Cloud Search middleware.
Insufficient user and product analytics generated to support strategic decision making by the management. Business users had to comb through multiple data sets from different systems to source such analytics.
Implementing Google Analytics and other third-party analytics services to provide a suite of user and product analytics that can help decision making.
Product checkout was time consuming due to the high volumes of products and complex pricing and shipping rules that need to run in the background.
Increasing the speed and efficiency of the customer checkout process by using Pimcore e-commerce to process orders.
Würth LAC requires listing their products for sale on other e-commerce sites within the Würth group, leveraging them as additional sales channels.
Using Pimcore as a centralised product information repository to support omni-channel product listings.