What does a waste management company, floral business, and religious literature seller all have in common?
What could possibly tie the topic of dumpsters, flowers and bibles? In commerce practice we run into all kinds of business problems, the solution to which almost always requires distinctly different approach and, more often than not, a significant amount of customization in order to either fit the solution to the business or bend the business to fit the solution. This blog post will recount the three-week true story of how a team of Elastic Path commerce experts helped three customers from completely different industries achieve successful but, drastically different outcomes with one commerce platform.
WEEK ONE: Dumpsters
At the beginning of the trip, on week one, we met with one of the major national waste management companies. The best way to characterize the product catalog of this customer is a small number of service offerings with extremely complex availability and pricing rules. Getting right to the essence of it, waste management is a subscription-based service, not unlike telco for example. The market is competitive, and our customer wanted to get ahead of the competition by eliminating the friction associated with speaking to a representative in order to sign up; reducing confusion by taking the guided selling approach, and removing the barrier to entry by offering a personalized pricing to each customer. At the time of implementation, the client was of mixed digital maturity, varying from very low to moderate.
Parts of the business were archaic, to say the least, running on manual processes and mainframes, while their service availability and their extremely complex, location-specific pricing were managed on very advanced GIS (geographic information system). As mentioned, their pricing model is complex and a price for a particular service is dependent on the location, term of service whether under contract or not, etc. In addition, this brand wanted a phased roll out: once their B2B and B2C online businesses were stable, they planned to eventually include their commercial line of business, which was at the time solely in the domain of direct Sales interactions. Sure, why not.
WEEK TWO: Flowers
Next week we met with one of the largest private floral and gardening businesses in the Midwest. The client wanted to ensure that the cut flower arrangements their consumers ordered online were delivered to the right person, with a correct dedication, and at the specified time. Unlike the last example, this customer had a low digital maturity but, we were still eager to understand their challenge.
Among other things, we had to integrate with a largely manual distributed fulfillment system. Obviously, the complexity here lies in the formation of the products as well as the fulfillment. The product, a sellable item, is a flower arrangement, consists of several elements plus various flowers in specific quantity. Any issue with any one of these elements makes the product unavailable. Plus, here were also all kinds of free-form, make-your-own flower arrangements. The customer also operated a couple of garden centers, as well as a landscaping materials depot, and their aspirations were to get the gardening and landscaping included in their online commerce presence along with their principal cut flowers business. This, obviously, would involve selling bulk landscaping materials such as sand and gravel online.
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WEEK THREE: Bibles
The week after that we met one of the oldest and most respected publisher and bookseller in North America, specializing in religious literature whose goal was to move away from maintaining their hundred plus brick-and-mortar stores. This customer was of very high digital maturity and needed their commerce technology to easily integrate with their existing microservice and event-based systems.
Anyone who has implemented commerce will agree with me that selling books is, well, hard, and this was even more interesting than your usual book seller. A massive catalog with their own- and third-party products, significant product variance, and more. Both B2B and B2C buyer journeys were complex, riddled with a variety of group-buy and buy-on-behalf scenarios as well as complex fulfillment requirements. The customer's aspirations were, once fully transitioned to online sales, to get out of their traditional geographical territory which was limited by physical store presence and increase their reach nationally and internationally. They wanted regional and country level distinction, micro-sites, separation of group-buy and products for personal use. So, complex and dynamic, personalized catalog segmentation.
What do waste management company, a floral business, and a religious literature seller all have in common?
I am not going to sit here and tell you how we implemented all of this in three weeks. The subsequent implementations were appropriately long for each of the cases and depended on the complexity of integration. In the end we ended up with three happy clients. But that's not the point. The point is that we used the exact same commerce system in all three business cases and were able to model the business in our commerce system without customizations or modifications exactly the way the customer wanted. Not only that. We gave our customers the freedom to continue to develop and transform their business with minimal help from IT. All of our customers, regardless of their industry or size wanted to be better than competition, different than their competition. We managed to provide each of our customers with the ability to succeed and grow by giving them the power of effortless differentiation.
So what do dumpsters, flowers, and bibles all have in common? They can also be sold with one hyper-flexible commerce solution. Learn how you can start selling your products with Elastic Path Commerce Cloud today.
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