Powering up digital commerce for B2B selling

Byrne Electrical shares how its partnership with Atwix and Adobe Commerce powered by Magento enabled rapid deployment of a new B2B website.

“Digital transformation for B2B is not magic. It takes the right partner, the right tools and a deep understanding of your customers. Fortunately we had all three of these things—Atwix, Magento and our own deep customer knowledge.” – George Fabis, Director of IT, Byrne 

For many B2B companies today, eCommerce has become truly business-critical. In fact, Forrester Consulting predicts that digital B2B sales will reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023.1

In a recent webinar hosted by Adobe, Atwix CEO and Founder Slava Kravchuk joined Byrne Director of IT George Fabis to discuss how digital commerce can scale B2B selling, using the recent deployment at Byrne as a prime example.

Background on Byrne and the challenges it was facing

Headquartered in Michigan, Byrne Electrical is the leading manufacturer of power and data solutions for the home, healthcare, hospitality and office furniture industries. A proven innovator, the company claims more than 600 patents.

In the midst of celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Byrne has been experiencing growing pains. Existing technology was aging and limited, which meant it was not supporting urgent needs to expand sales growth opportunities and manage the increasing demand for more complex product customization, particularly in the B2B space.

A critical element of Byrne’s go-forward plan focused on launching a new B2B website that matched the existing B2C eCommerce site in terms of ease of use.

As George Fabis describes it, Byrne’s products are complex, and it can take the customer some time to work through what to order. Handling credit terms, shipping, delivery dates, part numbers—all were issues that the B2B eCommerce solution needed to address. 

“B2B is dramatically different from B2C,” noted Fabis. “We wanted to empower our B2B customers by making the order process simpler. We also wanted to empower our extremely knowledgeable salespeople and help them be order makers, not just order takers.”

According to Fabis, the current B2B website was no longer able to support the move to greater performance capabilities. It also required a manual effort to make changes, which took valuable time away from staff members.

“To move forward, we were looking for an eCommerce platform that would meet all our evolving requirements, eliminating the need for us to build from scratch or implement excessive customization,” he said.

Let the digital transformation begin

To set its digital transformation in motion, Byrne defined clear criteria for what was required. This included identifying a strong internal team, a defined strategy and scope, the right eCommerce platform and a powerful implementation partner.

“We also agreed that we wanted to prioritize requirements for a gradual deployment of the new eCommerce software,” said Fabis.

Once the plan was in place, the Byrne team began the search for the right eCommerce platform that would meet five essential requirements:

1.   Ultra-fast time to market

2.   Out-of-the-box capabilities

3.   Easy customization

4.   Ready integration with the existing ERP system

5.   Experienced deployment partner.

The combination of Atwix and the Magento Commerce software checked off all the boxes.

Why Atwix and Magento were the right fit for Byrne

From Fabis’ point of view, Atwix stood out from the crowd because of its exclusive expertise as the most certified Magento professional solution partner and the top contributor to Magento code three years running.

“The Atwix team were clearly experts when it comes to delivering tailored end-to-end solutions in not just B2B but also B2C, D2C, and mixed models,” Fabis explained. “Atwix also offered holistic client support on multiple levels, including engineering, operational, strategic and project management.”

Slava Kravchuk, Atwix’s CEO and Founder, expounded on what features and benefits Magento Commerce brought to Byrne. “Magento Commerce has been the platform of choice for Atwix for some time,” he said. “Its B2B module means functionality can power up right out of the box. Like Byrne, every B2B company is unique—with different workloads, requirements and features. Its open, developer-friendly architecture lets us use much of what Magento automatically provides, with space to build on top of what’s there without a lot of custom code. Plus, the flexible API is very straightforward with ERP and other third-party systems.”

Having B2B experience with proven technology was not the only winning factor in Byrne’s selection of Atwix as its partner. “Atwix was also a cultural fit,” added Fabis. “We greatly appreciated the ongoing open dialogue with our Atwix team. They were good communicators and did not dictate or mandate. I’d say we had mutual respect right from the beginning. We were on the same page, working toward the same goal. From day one, they understood our need to deploy a B2B eCommerce platform that, for basic TCO reasons, required minimal customization and supported easy upgrades.”

Ready, set, deploy in 8 weeks!

“We felt we had chosen the right partner and the right software—and we were ready to go!” said Fabis.

With clear priorities set for the phased proof-of-concept rollout, the Byrne and Atwix teams launched a sprints-based approach.

Fabis describes their plan as more “mvp” than “MVP.” And what does he mean by that?

“MVP, or minimum viable product, refers to a development technique where a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters,” he said. “In Byrne’s case, “mvp” is my way of positioning our phased rollout on which we will continue to expand.”

Fabis credited the incredible teamwork within Byrne for its role in ensuring the speed and success of the new B2B eCommerce platform. “It was a collaborative effort from our internal teams, from top executive leadership to the plant floor,” he said.

From his point of view, times are changing fast—and B2B customers need different online interactions. That’s why digital transformation is necessary, but it does mean revisiting the entire business process.

“Having all our teams aligned made it easier for everyone to be more open to the changes—and opportunities—that come with digital transformation,” he said.

Monitoring customer satisfaction—and KPIs

Byrne’s new B2B site is live (https://www.youmakebyrne.com)  and Byrne—and its customers—are quite happy with the results.

“I think the website looks great. It’s very classy,” noted Fabis. “More importantly, I’ve received feedback from our B2B customers along the lines of, ‘Wow this site is so simple to use. I can now do what I want to do in a matter of minutes!’”

From the performance perspective, Fabis and the Byrne team are tracking top KPIs around attraction, conversion, adoption and growth.

“As expected, the new adoption rate is a little slower because of our phased strategy,” he said, “but we’re expanding every day to enable more and more B2B functionality.”

Kravchuk added that the Magento Commerce software has the widgets and add-ons to make the functionalities and integrations much simpler.

“Things like interfacing with credit cards or shipping companies or Google Analytics are faster and easier with the Magento Commerce platform,” he said.

What’s next?

Not one to stand still, Byrne has a future plan in mind.

“First, we are focused on more B2B growth in terms of products, customers, and functionality,” explained Fabis. “Secondly, we’re looking for tighter B2B, B2C and specialty integration all in one software solution. Thirdly, we’re hoping to ramp up a contribution program with Adobe and Magento. I envision that when we find functionality we think other companies could leverage, we can share and collaborate in building the Magento Commerce upgrade roadmap. This aligns with my preferences around getting our customizations into the Magento Commerce core to make upgrades more seamless with less testing.”

Onward!

Lessons learned

George Fabis, Byrne’s Director of IT, summed up the top lessons learning in the electrical service company’s B2B digital commerce site rollout:

·   Implement a phased approach with adjusted KPIs if time-to-market is critical

·   Choose a platform built for B2B challenges with strong integration capabilities

·   Look for a strong implementation partner that is truly certified on the software

·   Be willing to embrace business process change opportunities

Want to learn more?

Listen to the webinar replay: How Digital Commerce Can Scale B2B Selling. Rachel Rocklin, Customer Demand Gen Manager with Adobe hosted the webinar and was joined by George Fabis, Director of IT with Byrne, and Slava Kravchuk, CEO and Founder of Atwix.

Read Byrne’s case-study at portfolio section of our website.

Click to watch a webinar recording.

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