Crescent Electric Supply Company recently launched a completely redesigned ecommerce site. Industrial Distribution recently had the chance to speak with Mike Mayer, the Director of E-Business Strategy and Commerce with the comapny about its strategy and experience in rolling out the platform.
ID: Developing an all new ecommerce site is a big project. What prompted Crescent Electric Supply to prioritize this issue and launch the site when it did?
Mayer: Our customers were asking for it. We know the world is changing and it is no longer a benefit for our customers to have this, it is a requirement. We knew we needed to get something out there that was like a retail web site, similar to the sites people are shopping on every day.
ID: What factors did Crescent Electric Supply consider when deciding what types of functionality to employ on the site (Search by Part Number vs. Search by Product Name, Order on Account vs. Pay at Checkout, etc.)?
Mayer: We went out to 100 of our customers and surveyed them. We asked what their satisfaction level was with the current system and went through a list of possible features that we could build into the site. That resulted in a prioritized list of features has been the foundation of our roadmap. We broke out the most important features and got them into the hands of our customer first. Now we are working on the next wave of enhancements.
Currently, customers can view their custom pricing, see inventory in their local branch, order on their Crescent Credit accounts and request that shipments are sent via Crescent Truck, FedEx or held at will-call. Customers can then track order status, reprint invoices and access their quotes from our Order History section.
One of the most powerful features of cesco.com is the onsite search. Our search engine is very flexible and allows customers to search by keywords, partial catalog numbers or even trade slang.
If our customers typically buy the same products over and over again, we give them the ability to create custom shopping lists. Additionally, to save our customers time, we provide prebuilt shopping lists that contain products that our customers typically purchase in addition to products that we think they’ll like.
ID: Did you list every product that Crescent Electric Supply carries on the site? If yes, why? If no, how did you decide which SKUs to offer online?
Mayer: We do, yes. Through our onsite search engine, customers have access to 200,000 part numbers. Additionally, they can use our guided navigation to access the 18,000 products that have been cataloged. These products have been categorized in our taxonomy and have images, instruction manuals, spec sheets, bullets, marketing text, and videos. Our rich content is one of the areas where we are moving beyond our competitors. Content is king and our content is part of the reason that we are growing so quickly. We pull in a ton of traffic organically because we have all of that good product data out there. We‘ve seen a much higher ROI in optimizing our content than we previously did in paid search advertising.
ID: What is the goal of this site for Crescent Electric Supply?
Mayer: The goal is to make it easier for our customers to do business with us by putting the power in their hands. Many of our customers are out in the field and we want them to be able to pull out their iPad, submit an order for Will-Call, and head over to the branch on their lunch break to pick it up.