After nearly 20 years in B2B e-commerce, Rob Powell knows what works—and what doesn’t.
Powell is the founder and CEO of EngineerSupply, an online distributor of about 7,000 products from 150 suppliers to an audience of engineers, construction site managers, architects and related buyers. What’s working best now is the company’s redesigned website, relaunched last fall at EngineerSupply.com, featuring faster search, new product categories and product pages with ratings and reviews.
The redesigned site, Powell says, is on track to generate web sales of $10 million this year, an increase of about 17.6% from $8.5 million in 2017.
It had been three years since the company, which designs and develops its e-commerce technology in-house, last did a major website update. But customers wanted a more secure shopping environment and faster, more personalized search and EngineerSupply.com wanted to add more product categories, Powell says.
As a result, the company spent about nine months revamping EngineerSupply.com with new coding that made all pages—and not just shopping cart pages—more secure and protected against malicious attacks, session hi-jacking and other online intrusions from unauthorized parties. “Google is getting stricter so we built an environment for secure browsing session the entire time customers are on EngineerSupply.com,” Powell says.
Along with better security, EngineerSupply also rebuilt and relaunched site search in ways that cut by 27% the number of clicks and seconds it takes a business buyer to find the right product, Powell says. Specifically, redesigned drop-down menus located at the top of the home page give ` buyers new ways to search for products by brands and categories. A retooled site search box lets buyers shop for a particular product with an option to put in a price range. “Site search needed to be better and quicker, and now it is,” Powell says.
Freshly updated product pages now feature ratings and reviews along with production recommendations, live chat, and a history of the products the buyer last viewed. EngineerSupply is working with ResellerRatings.com on adding more reviews and ratings.
These days EngineerSupply.com customers are more mobile so the updated website design is responsive, meaning content is displayed evenly across any mobile or desktop device. “We see a lot more orders being placed directly on the job site,” Powell says.
An average ticket on EngineerSupply.com is about $370 and business buyers in general have specific products in mind when they click on EngineerSupply.com, Powell says.
“They know at a high level what they want, but also want faster ways to get to it,” Powell says. Engineers and related customers also are on the lookout for new products—a key reason the newly updated EngineerSupply.com features such new products as cast iron valve boxes, property corner markers, manhole lids and devices for detecting underground rebar. Other new specialty items include more measuring devices for construction and surveying professionals.
With a redesigned site that helps customers more quickly search and purchase among an expanded product catalog, Powell is counting on continued growth in web sales. “It’s been a rocket ride for e-commerce since we started doing this,” he says. “We are reinventing ourselves after all these years—focusing on how to do it better.”
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