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Van Meter

Focusing on creating lasting value for customers and partners through digital commerce

2x

Increase in number of active accounts YoY

23%

Increase in online orders YoY

12

States sold to leveraging the site

More than electrical products, a true partner representing 800+ brands

If it uses or helps deliver electricity, chances are Van Meter, Inc. sells it. Founded in 1928 and headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Van Meter is a wholesale electrical supply distributor offering everything from motors and wire and cable solutions to solar panels and electrical components.

But, Van Meter is more than products. Van Meter focuses on creating lasting value for the customers and partners they serve, a commitment that has been engrained in the company since its earliest years – and one that helped them thrive even through the Great Depression.

100 percent employee-owned, Van Meter represents more than 800 brands in the electrical, automation and mechanical industries, with 16 branches in the Midwest and plans for further expansion.

Underlying Van Meter’s commitment to service is the team’s relentless spirit of innovation and vision for growth. In order to continue innovating and growing, Van Meter set out to be a better digital partner to their customers and serve them in more meaningful ways.

From basic online ordering to a fully integrated, best-in-class digital experience

As a leader and innovator in the industry, Van Meter was early to adopt a web order entry tool, built by their ERP provider, in the mid 2000s. In 2014, Van Meter built a more robust ecommerce site and completed a subsequent redesign in 2016.

By 2018, Van Meter recognized the site had become fairly stagnant. Customer adoption had plateaued, sales weren’t improving and the site was not built to scale.

Simple edits or customizations weren’t possible, or if they were, took far too long to keep up with Van Meter’s desired pace. Their team didn’t have control over even small edits to the platform. Additionally, the CMS was essentially non-existent. As a result, Van Meter had to leverage two separate systems to piece their commerce and marketing content together. It became apparent that a new technology solution was needed.

Van Meter’s vision was to get beyond web order. They didn’t want a partner that could help them with basic online transactions, they wanted a partner that could enable them to completely overhaul their digital customer experience and add true business value.

B2B ecommerce as the catalyst for growth

Van Meter wanted their ecommerce site to be a growth engine, one that could drive revenue for the company. In a perfect world, at least 10 percent of overall sales would go through the website by 2025. In order to reach that goal, Van Meter needed organizational buy-in and change.

As they searched for the right ecommerce solution for the paradigm shift, Van Meter conducted vast internal and external research. Van Meter gained an understanding of where they were and where they wanted to be and incorporated insights and feedback direct from their customers. As they continued their research and started identifying suitable platforms, they came across Episerver.

Episerver was able to provide a robust B2B ecommerce assessment that helped Van Meter understand their requirements. Some of the requirements at the top of their list included:

• Integration with their Epicor Eclipse ERP and other backend systems
• Customer portal
• Customization capabilities
• Guest checkout
• Credit card/payment methods
• Customer support
• Strong implementation partner network
• CMS to manage marketing content alongside ecommerce
• Out-of-the-box SEO capabilities
• Strong understanding of key groups like AD and IDEA

Early results despite a launch at the height of a global pandemic

Van Meter launched their new site powered by Episerver in June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Episerver’s partner, Xngage was top notch throughout the implementation of B2B Commerce Cloud. Their experience, expertise and knowledge of the Epicor ERP system helped make the integration process very smooth. The site was up and running in just over eight months.

Even through change and disruption, Van Meter’s results tell a powerful story.

As Van Meter grows into new markets, they are now able to garner more sales with fewer people resources. By moving some of the service-based activities online, salespeople are able to focus on higher value tasks and let the ecommerce site work 24/7. Customers can seamlessly serve themselves online to access order history, checkout and view account information.

In just six months time, Van Meter has seen incredible business value by partnering with Episerver.

Customers were quick to adopt the platform. In fact, in the first quarter live, Van Meter saw the number of active accounts more than double. The percent of active accounts, or digitally engaged customers, climbed to 60% from 25% year-over-year.

Van Meter’s site has also attracted new customers. In just six months, Van Meter added 62 net new, online only accounts. Many of those customers went on to apply for business accounts with Van Meter, an avenue that was not available to customers prior to the new site going live.

Additionally, Van Meter is expanding to new markets. Between guest orders and net new accounts, the website helped Van Meter sell into 12 states, something that was not possible with the previous site.

In Q3 of 2020, online order frequency increased by 23% year-over-year. In addition, Q3 brought the most first-time online orders ever. Customers who had never placed an order online were swiftly adopting the new site.

Online sales are helping to make Van Meter even more profitable. In fact, gross profit for online orders is five percent higher on average than the organization overall.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that several online transactions have occurred in the same session as a blog content pageview, proving the combined value of marketing content and commerce. Several customers are checking out product focused and promotional blog content before making online purchases.

It’s clear that Van Meter has gone far beyond online transactions. Their B2B ecommerce website is driving true business value and is part of an omnichannel growth strategy.

 


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