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Guest Supply

Guest Supply overhauls their user experience with Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud

Guest Supply overhauls their user experience with Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud

For a modern traveling salesman, hotel amenities are basic necessities. But in 1979, small bottles of soaps, shampoos, conditioners and other toiletries weren’t always available in hotels. That’s why Guest Supply was founded.

From humble roots as a one man supplier out of a garage, to a global thought-leader and innovator in the hospitality space, Guest Worldwide serves more than 25,000 customers in over 120 countries. Guest Worldwide is built on a deeply-rooted philosophy that customer service is the unquestioned catalyst for raising the bar on quality, innovation and efficacy.

The global collective is comprised of three companies including textile manufacturer, Manchester Mills, personal care amenities manufacturer, Gilchrist & Soames and hospitality distributor, Guest Supply.

The hospitality arm of Guest Worldwide, Guest Supply needed a digital overhaul which is where Episerver came in.

Trail blazing as an early adopter of ecommerce 

As an innovator and digital leader in their industry, Guest Supply was an early adopter of ecommerce. In the early 90s, an internal development team at Guest Supply engineered a homegrown ecommerce system.

At the time, the system was cutting edge and steps ahead of Guest Supply’s top competitors. However, Guest Supply eventually outgrew the system and recognized that their solution which was once the pinnacle of the industry, needed to be updated.

The overall experience of the site was outdated, search functionality was likened to an automated excel spreadsheet and navigation was not intuitive. The digital team at Guest Supply, led by Kristin Richards, Director of eCommerce, knew it was time for a massive overhaul.

While Guest Supply was once blazing the digital trails, competitors mimicked them and eventually caught up on digital, offering seamless experiences and simple ways to buy online. Guest Supply was losing customers to competitors and needed to modernize their experience to separate themselves from the pack.

Solving complex business challenges

After recognizing the need for a change, Guest Supply began weighing their options. They needed to determine whether they would build another system internally, or partner with a technology provider that offered a system off-the-shelf.

The field sales organization at Guest Supply is comprised of more than 250 people throughout the country. Sales representatives consistently provided feedback that with the old system, they could not do their jobs efficiently because they were too busy doing administrative work. They did not have a platform that enabled customers to self-serve. Instead salespeople were responsible for entering orders, tracking information and providing order updates to customers.

Guest Supply wanted to build a robust system that made it possible to carry out any interaction through the website. The transformation was never about eliminating their sales team. Instead, it would extend the sales team and give them the opportunity to focus on higher-value activities.

The homegrown platform provided Guest Supply with little to no marketing capabilities. Because the ordering functionality lived behind a separate site, Guest Supply could not carry out email marketing, create landing pages or develop other promotions that would lead directly to a customer transaction.

Finally, Guest Supply had little to no control over the content on the site because the system did not have a built-in CMS. The website was completely static and required developers any time even a simple change was requested, which was highly inefficient.

When hunting for the proper ecommerce system, Guest Supply’s list of requirements included:

  • Robust CMS
  • Globalization
  • Personalization
  • Quick order
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Modern experience
  • Responsive
  • Mobile app
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility

Guest Supply is a large company with a very diverse customer base ranging from some of the biggest hotel brands in the world to independent properties. All customers have very unique needs and the platform would need to enable Guest Supply to serve a large range of customer needs.

More than a website

With ecommerce, Guest Supply intended to extend their sales team, not replace them. The entire digital transformation was about prioritizing customers, while enabling their sales force to do what they do best – focus on selling.

To meet and beat Amazon, Wayfair and others, Guest Supply wanted to deliver a seamless online experience, while also offering a team of experts that customers could talk to if they’d rather do that. The key was to deliver the best of both worlds. Wayfair and Amazon can’t compete with the expertise and service Guest Supply offers.

For Guest Supply, partnering with Episerver was about far more than overhauling their digital properties and deploying a new website. It was a cultural change, a paradigm shift. It was complete digital and business transformation that changed everything from finance to procurement to marketing and beyond.

Guest Supply has a digital roadmap in place to continue making improvements to their digital offering. It is not a project they will set and forget. They intend to continue improving their offering for the next 20 years. With Episerver, Guest Supply aims to future-proof their business and better serve their customers.

70 percent of Guest Supply’s customers are already using Guest Supply’s existing online ordering system. They expect that number to greatly increase when they go live with the new site powered by Episerver. With Episerver, Guest Supply expects to see a revenue lift, higher customer retention and a better overall customer experience.

Guest Supply is a very complex business. We needed a solution that took those complex business rules into account and solved for them. Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud solves even our most complex challenges with ease

Kristin Richards

Director eCommerce Guest Worldwide

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