A standard feature found on many online retail sites is a wish list, a tool that consumers click to research, archive and share products they like and may wish to purchase now or later on.
In business-to-business ecommerce, wish lists aren’t nearly as common, given the complexity of buying corporate goods and services online.
But one B2B web merchant selling commercial furniture and related products—Industry West, in Jacksonville, Fla.—is using wish list technology to remake a standard B2C website feature into a product-planning and -sharing tool for business buyers such as architects, interior designers, and companies or organizations like Google, Facebook Inc., the New York Yankees and Airbnb Inc.
The new My Projects tool available now on IndustryWest.com is part of a series of website upgrades Industry West introduced when it rolled out updated Magento ecommerce technology from Adobe Inc.
The Magento technology replaces an outdated ecommerce platform operating on open-source software and enables Industry West to offer business buyers more tools to research and purchase products and manage projects online, says chief marketing officer Ian Leslie. “We are adding to our product functionality,” he says.
The ‘My Projects’ tool fosters B2B collaboration
The My Projects tool debuted on IndustryWest.com last year. My Projects enables buyers to select a color palette and develop a project timeline, select furniture for their project and buy online.
My Projects also works as a collaboration tool for architects, interior designers and their clients to create and manage projects online. “The real value of the wish list functionality is that customers can share their project with their partners and teams without having to print tear sheets,” Leslie says.
So far about 1,200 customers have used the tool to create and manage projects, Leslie says. “This can be an old school market, but we are using ecommerce technology to alleviate some pain points by making the process to build and share projects easier,” he says.
Better technology and updated features have led to a 41% increase in new customer accounts and a 38% rise in annual transaction volume, although the company wouldn’t further break out specific figures.
Pushing up online B2B sales
B2B web sales are on track to grow 24% this year, while total ecommerce sales are projected to increase year-over-year around 30%. Industry West didn’t disclose overall metrics.
Ecommerce will account for about 25% of all sales in 2019 while the average ticket has increased to a range of $900 to $1,000. “We now sell furniture online with an average order volume the size of a monthly house payment,” Leslie says.
As a small merchant specializing in corporate furniture, Industry West faces plenty of competition from Amazon.com and big furniture ecommerce sites like Wayfair.com, NationalBusinessFurniture.com and others, Leslie says.
Industry West sees ecommerce technology combined with the opening of a select number of design studios in New York and eventually elsewhere as a critical part of remaining competitive, he says.
Better ecommerce technology also is allowing Industry West to add more inventory to its distribution and headquarters in Jacksonville and a distribution hub in Long Beach, Calif.
IndustryWest.com now carries an inventory of 2,500 SKUs, the company says. “In less than ten weeks after launching the new site to sell furniture online, more than 700 SKUs were added to the ‘wish list’ and almost 100 individual projects were created,” Leslie says.
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