|CLIENT||Turtle & Hughes|
|LOCATION||Linden, New Jersey|
|INDUSTRY||Industrial, Construction, Commercial, Electrical Contracting, Export, and Utility Markets|
Not long ago, Turtle & Hughes foresaw a major shift in their marketplace. While attending a series of industry forums, the independent electrical and industrial distributor realized their customers – and their needs – were changing. Many buyers expressed that they wanted more from their distributors when it came to buying products, everything from additional capabilities to easier accessibility.
With these new buyer demands and a changing customer base, the electrical services and solutions provider wondered what they could do to maintain their industry-leading position over the next 20 to 30 years. These questions led the company to take on a strategic initiative to create a better customer experience by digitizing their business. Their digital journey would entail launching a new eCommerce website, installing automation tools, and deploying analytical solutions so that every aspect of their organization would have a digital imprint.
Ajay Kamble, Turtle & Hughes’ newly hired Chief Information Officer, was tasked with leading their digital transformation and change management efforts. Realizing the organization lacked an eCommerce strategy, their executive team looked for external help in creating and implementing their vision to become a digital leader in their industry. With Kamble driving the initiative, the distributor partnered with eCommerce, SEO, and design experts to build their new website and digitize their systems within their aggressive timeline of just four months. “We went full throttle on all aspects of the business because we wanted our customers to be able to interact with us at any touchpoint,” explained Kamble.
Turtle & Hughes chose Unilog to provide the engine for their eCommerce site. According to Kamble, they were attracted to Unilog’s CIMM2 software platform because the product information management (PIM) tool and content management system (CMS) were already part of their package. “It’s a monumental task to get a PIM up and running, so having the CIMM2 PIM already built into the software was a huge plus for us,” said Kamble.
In addition to the eCommerce platform, PIM, and CMS, Unilog supplied nearly 300,000 enriched product SKUs through their partnership with Affiliated Distributors (AD). Unilog’s content services group develops robust content – detailed specifications, marketing descriptions, images, and manuals – for AD’s data service platform, giving AD members such as Turtle & Hughes access to millions of enriched product items. “A great-looking [product] photo does nothing for a buyer if there’s no content with it,” remarked Kamble. “That’s why we value the AD/Unilog content partnership.”
Despite the accelerated timetable, the new website went live with all new content by Turtle & Hughes’ time-to-market deadline. Kamble said this new site will likely become the hub of their business. “Unlike competitor sites that are product-heavy, our eCommerce site makes us a differentiator in the marketplace because it provides a good balance of our services and products.”
The new Turtle & Hughes site offers game-changing improvements and functionality for customers, including:
- A responsive design allowing buyers to shop and transact from any device, anywhere, at any time
- A clean, contemporary look with a user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate
- Robust content pages with comprehensive overviews of their multi-faceted services and solutions
- On-site search and filtering capabilities for easy and efficient product shopping
- A quick order pad for registered customers to re-order items in just a few clicks
- Personalized punchout catalogs that allow transactions through the buyer’s e-procurement system
- An Events page where customers can register for hands-on training and continuing education courses
- A popular Trends & Technology blog that will be re-introduced later this year
In the short time that the site has been live, Turtle & Hughes has already experienced key wins to help them compete in the distribution marketplace.
Internal and external adoption
Once a site goes live, the next hurdles are building awareness and gaining acceptance by internal staff and customers. At organizations with long-tenured employees, like Turtle & Hughes, employee buy-in and adoption can be a struggle. “We take a lot of pride in our employee tenure, so to tell these industry veterans they need to change what they’ve been successfully doing, almost overnight, would not be advantageous,” said Kamble. Instead, they explained and emphasized to sales the reasons they need to do it, and then gradually the “want to do it” followed. Kamble and the executive team also enlisted change agents to help promote the site internally, making sure they document and celebrate their adoption wins – both large and small.
As for their customers, they have been very receptive to the enhanced site. In fact, in the first two weeks the site was live, nearly 200 customers registered on their own, not waiting for the distributor to onboard them.
Committed to promoting the site and training its customers, Kamble’s team gave hands-on training before go-live for a few pilot customers to demonstrate the new capabilities and efficiencies it offers. Now, Kamble is partnering with his senior sales team to provide a turtle.com road show. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase the site, as well as understand our customers’ specific needs,” explained Kamble. “This type of engagement helps us make modifications to the site to better suit them.”
Now that Turtle & Hughes is taking advantage of the eCommerce analytics tools built into the platform, they are having some “aha” moments, as Kamble calls them, that are directly related to the additional data they can access and analyze. Previously, any reporting was compiled in an Excel spreadsheet and sent via e-mail throughout the organization, which Kamble admits wasn’t always read. Now that they’ve changed to an easier analytical solution, they’ve realized there’s more to analytics than just reading the numbers – these tools provide powerful insights.
While tracking and measuring data is easier and more efficient with the in-built analytics tools, Turtle & Hughes has seen additional efficiency gains in their organization. With the new system, SKU and parts creation is much simpler, so each day they add hundreds of new SKUs to their product catalog – they currently have 400,000 items available online.
To build a more cohesive and engaging customer experience, Turtle & Hughes also transferred all of their salespeople’s customer information into the system’s customer relationship management (CRM) tool, including their personal notes and insights accumulated over the years. They’ve found this data to be an important asset to attract and retain customers.
IMMEDIATE AND FUTURE GOALS
Already experiencing early wins and improvements to the business, Turtle & Hughes has developed goals and KPIs to help measure the success of their digital transformation. Their most pressing goal is to move their inside salespeople from their ERP to the eCommerce site. By migrating to the new platform, Kamble says their sales staff will be able to live and breathe in the same system as their customers. Realizing that eCommerce is a continual journey, the company has set three goals for the future:
- Increase productivity: Now that customers have a more efficient way to shop and order products, sales can spend less time taking orders and dedicate more time to being a consultant and problem-solver. With a salesforce of 300 people, the distributor hopes to gain at least 50% internal efficiency from their digital evolution.
- Provide more online SKUs: As they continue to grow their online catalog, they are on track to have nearly one million SKUs in their eCommerce portal within a year’s time.
- Build new features: To maintain a competitive edge, they have already conceptualized new features for their site, and are working with Unilog to incorporate these additional capabilities in a future release.
While eCommerce is another worthwhile channel to do business, Turtle & Hughes acknowledges it is only a by-product of their digital journey. “We need to be where the customer wants us to be, and digitizing our business is helping us do that,” remarked Kamble.
About Turtle & Hughes
Established in 1923 and headquartered in Linden, NJ, Turtle & Hughes is one of the nation’s largest independent electrical and industrial distribution companies serving the industrial, construction, commercial, electrical contracting, export, and utility markets. The fourth generation family- and employee-owned organization works with the industry’s strongest brands to provide its customers quality products from a global inventory. https://www.turtle.com
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.