MAG45 is consolidating and strengthening its customer relations using Episerver Commerce
How do you make millions of products from thousands of suppliers fast and easy to find on a single B2B e‑commerce platform? And how do you keep a platform with such an extensive range of products operational and performing?
MAG45 – a subsidiary of the Danish Solar Group since February this year – recently faced this very challenge. It opted for Episerver, having worked closely with data excellence experts Anchorman on a related big data project.
Its e‑commerce system went live in July 2016 with 450,000 products – a total that has grown to over a million in December 2016 – and it is anticipated this total will be 1.5 million by March 2017.
Much More Than just a B2B Online Store
MAG45 is an industrial integrator that manages its customers' entire supply chains on their behalf, providing services such as procurement, planning and warehousing. They are pioneers in their field, having established a successful track record in the high‑tech, medical, pharmaceutical and FMCG industries.
The MAG45 e‑commerce platform works differently from traditional B2B online stores. Where many stores only make a portion of a supplier's product range available online, MAG45 makes everything available. This does not necessarily mean that everything has been entered into the company's ERP system, but customers can nonetheless order anything they want. MAG45 ensures these products are automatically processed and made available to their clients.
Laurent Chavagne is one of the few dedicated business innovation directors in The Netherlands. His role within MAG45 mainly entails identifying and implementing relevant, new technologies. He is also responsible for integrating all the products into the new MAG45 e‑commerce system.
Article Number Only
In the past it was acceptable and common practice to just be able to search for a product by its article number. Things have changed radically in recent years, not only in terms of customers' demands, but also in terms of their perceptions and expectations. MAG45 spotted this shift and went in search of the solution.
Chavagne explains MAG45's approach, 'Customers wanted the same convenience in their business dealings as they experienced while shopping online as consumers. They also wanted specific features, such as invoicing and order histories, as well as options to order in bulk. MAG45 responded by looking for an e‑commerce platform with a wide range of B2B features and the ability to integrate special‑purpose applications.'
Episerver Commerce & Hugo (The Big Data Solution)
Integrating such a huge number of products and suppliers formed an additional challenge. To address this, MAG45 and Anchorman worked together to build Hugo – a big data solution named after Dutch legal scholar Hugo Grotius.
Hugo fully automates the processes of data enrichment, findability and matching. It was also important that Hugo could be integrated with the new e‑commerce platform.
Chavagne explains how MAG45 achieved this, 'We went in search of applications that met our particular needs and requirements. Episerver Commerce proved an ideal candidate in terms of both pricing and quality. Another key factor was its implementation partner, Arlanet, that turned out to be of amazing technical assistance. They adapted effortlessly and seamlessly to working alongside Anchorman, the developers of our big data solution, Hugo.'
E‑Commerce 2.0 & Agile Scrum
Once the decision had been made to use Episerver, implementation started using Agile Scrum methodology.
Chavagne recounts his findings using this method, 'We were really pleased with this approach. Several changes needed to be made during implementation and using Agile Scrum allowed us to accommodate these changes and achieve far better results.
On the back of these results, we are now building towards e‑Commerce 2.0 – an integrated digital solution where all products will be available and customers can find all the relevant information they need.'
Work began in February 2016 and by early July a working e‑commerce platform was up and running with 450,000 items. By November, this total had grown to 1 million.
Chavagne continues, 'Apart from a few ERP‑related obstacles, everything went flawlessly. We are using several APIs that allow the search engine to work seamlessly with our big data solution. Automated product data entry to our ERP system is also working exceptionally well. We are very pleased with how smoothly it is working and how fast it was built.
We anticipate we will eventually have around 1.5 million products in Episerver Commerce that will probably not include highly specific products in our system, but it will still be possible to search for them and then order them.'
'A custom solution has been devised for each MAG45 customer with its own individual pricing. We have programmed this option into Episerver Commerce. This allows us to service our customers better and meet their particular expectations.
Anytime a customer requests a product that is not available as standard in the store, we enter it into the system and generate a price agreement instantaneously. This guarantees transparency for our customers,' explains Chavagne.
'Both MAG45 and our customers can then view and manage agreements themselves within Episerver Commerce. Customers are responsible for their own environments and can make adjustments themselves, so they do not have to keep coming to us to get things changed. This reduces customers waiting time.'
Using Episerver Commerce allows MAG45 to provide its key accounts a huge range of products, and its partnership with Arlanet means it can do so extremely quickly and easily.
Chavagne concludes, 'We anticipate the benefits the Episerver platform provides will ultimately help us consolidate and strengthen our customer relations still further. It enables MAG45 users to find the right products and information within an enormous volume of data, fast and efficiently.'
'We went in search of applications that met our particular needs and requirements. Episerver Commerce proved an ideal candidate in terms of both pricing and quality'Laurent Chavagne, Business Innovations Director at Mag45