Conrad Electronic markets products primarily from the area of electronics and technology. The company attempts to meet the full range of its customers’ technical operating needs by means of their digital procurement platform. Conrad was using various standard systems to operate their previous B2B eCommerce solution. This included a B2B web shop from SAP Hybris, their central PIM system, and information taken from various different Excel spreadsheets and Access databases. The challenges Conrad faced had to do with the web shop they employed: Its usability no longer met today’s standards.
The modifications desired by customers either involved extremely high time and resource expenditures or simply could not be realized by the standard-software vendor. Creating new web shops took too long because of complicated processes. Furthermore, a lot of manual testing and creation had to be done for each new customer, which also represented a potential source of errors. Added to this were the high running costs arising from the SAP-Hybris licensing model. This resulted in indirect revenue losses and a suboptimal customer relationship right from the start.
The Avantgarde Labs solution
Conrad’s focus on B2B as well as the continually growing backlog of internal and customer needs for an ideal B2B e-commerce solution led to the management decision for a custom solution. Avantgarde Labs was engaged for the project as a service provider as the team had already been involved in the development of numerous vertical services in the e-commerce platform and enjoyed a great deal of trust on the part of Conrad Electronic. Combined with an agile approach and an MVP-oriented feature set, it was possible to move into a productive phase with the first version of a B2B e-commerce solution after only 6 months. The new web shop was realized with AngularJS Material. The single-page web application is fast and provides end users with a state-of-the-art user experience.
The entire solution scales itself automatically based on the respective traffic volume. Costs are saved on weekends when the B2B shops are little used. During intensive use, there are sufficient resources available to ensure the user experience is always fast and smooth. Additional expenses were accepted in exchange for increased customer benefits. For example, customer service can use an intuitive graphical mapping builder to implement complex mapping pipelines according to a modular approach. This means that orders from the Conrad system can be mapped directly in the customer system.
Project results & customer benefits
The outstanding feature of the new B2B e-commerce solution is the integration of all required subsystems in one holistic administrative interface. The new B2B shops with an OCI and Ariba connection can now be requested directly by new customers themselves with only a few clicks. After a validation by a Conrad employee, the request is converted directly into a shop and released. Each of the 17 country organizations can manage their shops independently using simple role and rights management. The reduced time to market for new shops not only made the new customers happy, it also led directly to increased revenue at Conrad and to a 50% increase in the number of new customers already in the first year after the release. Whereas employees used to have to deal with modification requests for the customer using time-consuming trial & error procedures lasting several days, changes such as mappings and restrictions can now be made using the intuitive and practical web interface while the customer is still on the phone. The graphical mapping builder, on-the-fly validations, and simulations make adjustments to the real data visible immediately. At the touch of a button, these can be activated and the customer has them available immediately in real time in the punchout.
Field service, sales and marketing can access required statistics independently. Customer logins and their settings can also be checked on the go from mobile devices. Cross-selling and upselling potentials can be tapped on the basis of data. The integration of all required systems, the automation of the workflows for setting up and managing the B2B stores, and the self-service functionalities for the respective B2B customers not only lead to a workload savings of 75%. The license and support costs for the standard software are also eliminated. The positive feedback from customers and the strong growth of the new customer base affirm for Conrad that they are on the right path – with customized services and customer proximity – to becoming one of the most relevant procurement platforms in their market segment.