Case Study: How Bock Water Heaters’ B2B Ecommerce Site Makes the Purchase Process Easier for Reps, Staff, AND Customers
How to make the online B2B purchasing process easier
When Jerry Albright joined Bock as VP of Sales and Marketing back in 2017, he realized the company’s website needed an aesthetic overhaul. “It’s basically our only form of advertising. We needed it to be a stronger representation of Bock.”
But he also knew the company’s online presence needed more than that. Bock sells its products through a regional network of reps who work with customers like design and engineering firms. The company’s website, at least in theory, could play a key role in facilitating purchases.
Unfortunately, recalls Jerry, the website wasn’t user-friendly. “It really didn’t do much to make the buying experience easy for anyone.”
To improve its online presence, the manufacturer needed to overcome challenges like these:
A lackluster digital experience. Technically speaking, Bock actually had two separate websites, one functioning as a simple brochure site for the public and the other serving as a rudimentary e-biz site for reps to place orders. Neither were facilitating the buying process the way they could be.
Limited search capabilities. When users searched Bock’s website, they couldn’t easily drill down to specific product models and find important information like specs, diagrams, and operating manuals—the kind of technical details that engineers and product specifiers need to see.
An inefficient, overly complex ordering process. If customers wanted a price quote, they could not specify the exact product, which could potentially have dozens of configurations. The situation often necessitated lots of back-and-forth communication between customers and reps, as well as Bock staff, to clarify orders and pricing.
No convenient way to present and update product information. Bock sells thousands of products and accompanying parts, which is why it has a complex ERP system. Unfortunately, that system wasn’t integrated with Bock’s web platform. This made it difficult to present the full range of products online and update product information conveniently.
Jerry knew that transforming Bock’s online capabilities would be a major endeavor, so he didn’t rush into the effort. Instead he carried out a careful selection process that ultimately led him to Earthling Interactive.
A comprehensive, easily searchable website with an automated cart-to-quote system
To solve Bock’s challenges, Earthling consolidated Bock’s two websites and added functionality to transform its online capabilities into a full-blown ecommerce site. That process involved key steps like these:
Acquiring valuable insights from various stakeholders. Bock and Earthling conducted an intense information-gathering process. This resulted in gaining practical perspectives from reps, internal staff, and longtime Bock customers.
Creating a tool for users to find specific products easily. Bock took on the big task of uploading information for its entire product line to the new website. Meanwhile, Earthling developed a site-wide search tool that allows users to easily filter searches and find exact product models quickly.
Implementing ERP integration. Bock’s ecommerce site and its ERP system can now “talk” to one another. That means staff can, for example, update thousands of prices for dozens of pricing groups—essentially with the click of a button. And when reps get a quote request, they can easily select the correct pricing group and trust the pricing information is up to date.
Developing a streamlined “Get a Quote” process. When customers find a product they want, they now click on a “Get a Quote” button, fill out a form, and choose a rep in their region. In turn, regional reps are notified immediately, have login rights to the website, and can initiate a streamlined quote process that ultimately makes the purchasing process simpler and faster.
Adding a “Find a Rep” option. To make it easy for potential buyers to contact Bock, Earthling added a “Find a Rep” option, complete with a US/Canada map providing contact information for regional reps.
A user-friendly, information-rich ecommerce site that meets the expectations of today’s B2B buyers
Bock’s website now helps the company accomplish the following:
Meet buyer expectations. Today’s B2B buyers want the ability to self-serve. Bock’s website helps customers find what they want and get a quote fast.
“If I had to use one word I’d say the website is just easier,” says Jerry. “And that’s huge. Let’s be honest, for a customer it comes down to this: How do I get in and get what I want quickly? The website answers that need. I know it’s driving more business.”
Stay true to Bock’s customer-focused tradition. A user-friendly website is crucial for a company that prides itself on exceptional customer service. “Yes, we have outstanding products. But we also know we’re not the only water heater company out there,” says Jerry.
Establish a go-to partner for a vital company asset. Bock now sells all of its products through its ecommerce site, and Earthling will be there for ongoing support.
“I think this project has been a great learning experience for both of us,” says Jerry. “And nobody knows the site better than Earthling—because they built it. If there’s ever an issue, they know how to correct it right away. It’s a great partnership.”
Find out how Earthling Interactive can turn your website into a B2B ecommerce site that meets the needs of today’s buyers.
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