Brother Canada has come a long way in building a business selling a mix of office products and sewing machines to businesses and consumers.
It opened in 1960 as the Montreal-based unit of Brother International Corp., the distribution and marketing arm of Japan-based manufacturer Brother Industries. Brother International figured Canada was ripe for its own Brother operation selling to small businesses and consumers.
“The move paid off,” Brother says in the “Brother History” write-up on Brother.ca, the company’s Canada-based website.
But it wasn’t until last July that Brother Canada had an e-commerce site that was worthy of the company’s more than century-old brand, says Frances Landreville, Brother Canada’s senior director, marketing and e-commerce. The legacy site had been built on an “outdated” platform that was slow and cumbersome for customers to use and Brother’s content managers to update with new product displays. In addition, the old site had offered limited ability to run cross-sell and upsell promotions.
“The online customer experience wasn’t that good, so we didn’t promote it,” she says. “We realized we wouldn’t have a second chance to make a first online impression.”
Brother Canada worked with web design and development firm Echidna to deploy a new website on a cloud-based e-commerce technology platform from Kibo. “This website represented one of the biggest projects at Brother Canada,” says Patrick Paré, senior director of Brother Canada’s Operations and Customer Center. “Our expertise to launch a new transactional website and project of this scope was limited, as were our internal resources.”
One of the main advantages of the new site is Brother’s improved ability to manage web content intended to be either shared by both retail and B2B customers, or dedicated to only one of these channels. Kibo allows an online seller to have both business-to-consumer and business-to-business content in the same master catalog, so that changes to product content will appear in both the B2C and B2B sections of a website, says Kelly Lynn, Kibo’s principle product manager. It also allows a merchant to pull specific content to appear in either the B2C or B2B section, such as more product specifications for business buyers, she adds.
Brother has multiple customers who make purchases on Brother.ca for themselves as individual consumers as well as for their companies, and it says the new site enables customers to transition from one buying mode to another. A customer making a purchase as an individual may order a single printer or sewing machine and pay with a credit card, then submit a purchase order and pay on credit terms to order several printers for her business.
In addition, the new site was developed using responsive design, which makes its content automatically render properly on any size of mobile, laptop or desktop screen. Brother.ca now also uses an online fraud-management system from CyberSource for helping to identify risky transactions.
Other new features include:
- A product comparison guide;
- A product display grid for viewing and selecting items;
- Customer reviews;
- A revised shopping cart, which requires only two instead of several clicks to check out;
- Guest checkout;
- New options for clicking re-orders of commonly purchased items.
The new site also enables better promotion of the Brother Care loyalty program, Landreville says.
Because Brother is now able to more easily insert promotions into the site’s new shopping cart as well as other parts of the site, it developed a cart pop-up window that promotes the loyalty program with perks like extended warranties and free shipping. “When customers add a printer to their cart, a window pops up offering them the loyalty program,” Landreville says. “We adjusted messages in the shopping cart in mid-December, and have seen a spike in customers joining Brother Care since then.”
Brother Canada also operates a sister site for small and midsized businesses, Brother for Business, that still runs on the old e-commerce platform—but probably not for long, Landreville says. “We’re moving to do more A/B testing on that site, and updating that platform is another thing we’ll eventually look at.”
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