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Case Study: Airgas Inc.

Project Details
CLIENT Airgas Inc.
LOCATION Radnor, Pennsylvania
INDUSTRY Hardgoods, Safety
PROJECT Data Enrichment

Airgas goes from approximately 35,000 to over 100,000 hardgood products in their online store after Unilog categorizes and enriches their product data

PROBLEM

With more than five billion dollars in annual revenue, Airgas, Inc., is a leading single-source supplier of gases, welding equipment and supplies as well as safety products. With 16,000 employees, Airgas services over one million customers in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, construction, energy, retail and more. The company wanted to get more products in their online store. But they needed to go beyond just title and description. They wanted to enrich the data with images, technical documents, product attributes and specifications in order to give their online customers information to support their buying decisions.

It meant processing tens of thousands of products in a short timeframe. They had started to do the enrichment themselves, including categorization, and quickly found it to be a daunting task.

SOLUTION

In January 2014, Unilog Content Solutions came in to categorize and enrich over 150,000 SKUs. Unilog normalized the data and created short descriptions. A critical component of the project was developing a schema for each product category: a rule set for category building and standardization. The Airgas team assessed five vendors during the selection process before choosing Unilog Content Solutions to not only scale content, but also help implement best practices.

“We wanted to leverage Unilog for enrichment and scaling. They had the resources and knowledge to help us and be an extension of our team,” notes Darnell Wilkins, Airgas Director of Digital Merchandising. Airgas had started the process with the first batch of items, Unilog created the schema for the remaining 100,000.

Another issue confronting Airgas was the slow speed of uploading data into their master data management (MDM) system. Unilog identified the bottlenecks and the time-consuming processes, and then created a widget that read the MDM data, generated reports, and updated the data with one click. Optimizing the process and using the tool reduced an eight-hour process down to 15 minutes.

RESULTS

The process optimization and the tool provided by Unilog enabled Airgas to upload data to their MDM system without any outside assistance. They could quickly clear up the data backlog and meet their deadline.

As a result of the enrichment process, Airgas has now almost quadrupled the number of items they have showing online. At the start of this project they had 35,000 hardgood products in their online store and can now offer over 145,000 hardgood products to their customers.

As Q3 concluded in 2014, the analytics showed there were upwards of 40,000 products that had not previously been part of a customer order and had now contributed over seven million dollars in incremental revenue to their bottom line. “It’s been a good engagement and great experience working with Unilog,” says Wilkins.

Airgas found the project management went well and that Unilog was responsive to their needs. “With Unilog, for the most part we’ve had the same team consistently. That was a great comfort to me,” says Ruthann Hines, Online Catalog Director for Airgas. “Also, the turnaround has been very good.”

Since launching Airgas.com in July 2014, the online store has become the fastest growing channel in their business. User registrations have more than doubled, indicating rapid customer adoption. On average, online customers have been spending 32% more per transaction with Airgas.com than those who purchase offline. Expanding to over 145,000 hardgood products from the previous site has made Airgas the largest online single source for gases, welding and safety products.

FUTURE NEEDS

With the bulk of the product set now enriched, Unilog will continue to work on new products as they are available ensuring the online site stays current with high-quality product data.

Airgas is also transitioning to be fully functional on their new PCM platform and plans to continue to use CIMM2, Unilog’s hosted application, to support enrichment and collaboration with additional content, changes and maintenance among other things.

About Airgas, Inc.

Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG), through its subsidiaries, is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of industrial, medical and specialty gases, and hardgoods, such as welding equipment and related products. Airgas is a leading U.S. producer of atmospheric gases with 16 air separation plants, a leading producer of carbon dioxide, dry ice, and nitrous oxide, one of the largest U.S. suppliers of safety products, and a leading U.S. supplier of refrigerants, ammonia products, and process chemicals. More than 16,000 associates work in approximately 1,100 locations, including branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers. Airgas also markets its products and services through e-Business, catalog and telesales channels. Its national scale and strong local presence offer a competitive edge to its diversified customer base. For more information, please visit Airgas.com

About Unilog

Unilog is a global technology and services company that specializes in eCommerce solutions and enriched product catalogs for the B2B marketplace. Unilog’s flagship product, CIMM2, is a fully integrated eCommerce platform designed to fit the unique requirements of the wholesale distribution industry. www.unilogcorp.com

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