Operations

bisco’s B2B Marketplace: the One-stop Shop for the Modern B2B Buyer

Bernardo Lemgruber
Bernardo Lemgruber November 18, 2020
bisco’s B2B Marketplace: the One-stop Shop for the Modern B2B Buyer

In an effort to optimize and support the modern B2B buyer journey, bisco industries launched its new B2B marketplace commerce site. The company is a leading global distributor of electronic components, specialty fasteners, and hardware. Boasting 49 local offices, seven distribution centers, and an e-commerce website, the recent launch is a huge step towards creating a true collaborative commerce ecosystem, the first of its kind in their industry.

From a catalog that can reach up to 10 million SKUs, bisco’s B2B marketplace went live with 4 million listed products that have some description and product data. From those, more than half are fully enriched with solid images and over 67,000 product attributes available to select from. The goal is to provide a best-in-class experience for manufacturing procurement of fasteners, electronic components and hardware. Now the end customers can get the best price, best product selection and fastest delivery option possible.

Apart from all the work put into managing a catalog this big, there’s also the vendor relationship in the formula. They operate with more than 450 supply partners, that are in many technological levels: from highly digital to very basic. To put in perspective, while some can work with APIs and submit live product feeds directly, the majority are working with Excel spreadsheets updated on a weekly basis. The open APIs and vendor onboarding were of outstanding importance in bisco’s selection criteria and decision to move forward with VTEX.

Clouda Inc, an e-commerce system integrator and VTEX partner, supported the launch of bisco’s B2B marketplace through the VTEX IO platform. Leveraging the platform’s headless architecture, Clouda set out to develop on-demand niche features that are vital for bisco, such as price break, custom price displays and quoting capabilities.

Looking into the future

bisco’s old platform was supporting their old strategy well enough, but it was unable to push them to the next level. The trigger to replatform came from the number of costs needed to evolve in their old model. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in developing new features and band-aiding platform upgrades and updates are not exactly an efficient strategy, as they realized.

The multi-tenant SaaS world opened up a whole new set of possibilities to bisco. They’re excited to see new features coming out without having an entire team running the project internally, or allocating budget to develop it. In fact, they can have the best of both worlds: work with Clouda Inc. for strategic and niched solutions, and follow VTEX’s roadmap closely to forecast future features, such as the product comparison feature, they’re already waiting for.

There’s also the beauty of working with a composable commerce platform, which enables some features, extensions and add-ons to be just added to their account. By doing an install with the VTEX CLI, that’s zero cost and almost zero hours. So, a lot of savings.

Based on what I’ve experienced so far, and what I see for the next six months, it’s looking like we’ll be able to reduce our expenses by 90%.

Adam Wong, Director of Ecommerce and Marketing at Bisco

The platform migration was an opportunity for bisco to do structural changes, such as a full revamp of their catalog. Previously, it was part-number based and organized by manufacturer or brand. They decided to move away from that towards having a catalog that’s more search focused and category driven. With that “slight” change, they’re already seeing conversion rates improve. After the catalog revamp, conversion has jumped to  50% in comparison to the legacy platform. The conversion in the VTEX platform hit the 100% increase threshold.

Streamlining customer service

Ten years ago the B2B buying and selling relationship was very focused on interpersonal telephone communication. The order would be dictated line by line and the engagement happened in the call, with room for a little negotiation. When both sides were happy the purchase order would be sent over by fax or email.

The modern B2B buyer is now doing things at scale: they’ll receive a list with thousands of products that need to be purchased. To diminish exposure, they have different weighting factors that determine how risky their supply chain is. Now they’re using digital signals to manage those weights and values and they’re optimizing their buying patterns to reduce risk without interruption from a supply standpoint.

For bisco, good customer service starts with building efficiency. They’re doing everything they can do to support this new customer in that decision-making process without having to get on the phone, and to do that at scale, assisting them with technology. By delivering this high-quality digital experience, bisco can save lots of money, make products much more cost-effective and provide great service to the consumer.

The migration to VTEX has fuelled their ambition to embrace digital transformation. VTEX Commerce Cloud capabilities will improve the workflows that bisco already has. Two-thirds of active customers engage with the sales team both online and offline. They surf the website, fill shopping carts, check prices, search and compare products. Now bisco has the capacity for a sales team member to receive a notification, identify that a given customer’s cart has changed and engage with that customer.

The person-to-person engagement has been, historically speaking, one of bisco’s main sales boosters. With VTEX they’re increasing the sales team efficiency while providing better customer service. The next level is integrating new sales channels, like niche marketplaces, Google Shopping and Amazon to bisco’s website and boost online sales.

Managing multiple sales channels was super challenging. With the catalog and pricing integrations VTEX provides, we’ve been saving a substantial amount of time.

Adam Wong, Director of Ecommerce and Marketing at bisco

The ability to leverage native catalog integration with Google Shopping and Amazon was a highlight of using VTEX. bisco used to handle the integrations with spreadsheets, a task that took hours of the Merchandising Manager, which is now automated. So they got more ambitious. Today they have 7,000 products listed on bisco’s Google Merchant Feed. By the end of the year, the goal is to drive that to a million products. That’s expected to increase drastically the traffic generated by this channel and should really drive some substantial revenue.

The vast majority of bisco’s orders are shipped to their customer’s manufacturing location. But what if the customer needs something for the next day? They would contact the sales representative and ask where the inventory for that item was. If they don’t have it, the customer would probably call someone else and see if they can find stock on it. Now, bisco is leveraging VTEX’s logistics module to take the guesswork out of the equation and enable the customer to get the delivery time estimation right away.

Now, bisco’s customers will be able to go and find multiple sources that can provide all needed items at a good cost and good availability. Additionally, bisco will be able to satisfy the demand of those procurement agents who already know exactly what they want. With VTEX’s platform and integrated inventory system, bisco and their customers can trust to have solid amounts of inventory, always up to date.

To know more about bisco’s new B2B marketplace, read the press release.

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