Deploying a website feature—like a MyWallet application that saves customers time in placing orders—can make a seller stand out and win more sales, Steve Martinez, director of ecommerce for chemicals distributor Univar Solutions, said at IRCE @ RetailX.

Univar Solutions, a multibillion-dollar distributor of chemical products, has produced sharp growth in self-service ecommerce sales since relaunching its B2B ecommerce site more than two years ago, Steve Martinez, senior director of digital commerce, said.

A big reason is because buyers wanted 24/7 access to products in a user-friendly portal. Building that kind of ecommerce site, at MyUnivar.com, was the reason Univar migrated its ecommerce site in 2017 from an old legacy platform that was difficult for customers to use to a new platform integrated with the company’s customer relationship management system and better attuned to customers’ needs.

SteveMartinez-UnivarSolutions

Steve Martinez, senior director of digital commerce, Univar Solutions

Now, “online customers buy more products, more frequently,” Martinez said in a presentation on Univar’s growth in ecommerce during the B2B track at the IRCE @ RetailX conference in late June.

A ‘killer’ app builds awareness

But while it’s important to have a useful and easy-to-use ecommerce site—for example, where customers can instantly access critical product documents like safety data sheets and certificates of analysis, view order status and purchase history, use a 2-click process to request quotes and place orders, and click among content in multiple languages—Univar has found that it’s also crucial to provide a “killer” online feature that helps the company to stand out and further build its base of repeat customers.

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“Awareness is key,” Martinez said. One standout killer feature Univar has deployed is its MyWallet application, where registered customers can store their credit card account information and other data to expedite online purchases and communications with customer service reps. “It helps drive faster adoption of the website,” Martinez said.

Martinez said Univar took about eight weeks to launch its new ecommerce site, which runs on the Commerce Cloud platform from Salesforce.com Inc. and integrates with the Salesforce CRM system. The tight integration between ecommerce and CRM helps Univar to better understand and address customers’ needs based on their account activity, whether they place orders online on a site personalized to their interests or through sales reps.

Selling customer experience

“Customers prefer to transact when and where they want, 24/7,” he said. An increase in online self-service orders has resulted in more productive customer service and sales reps, he added.

Univar also designed its ecommerce site to show customers more recommended products and to let them sign up for reminders to reorder routinely purchased products.

Its website also displays extensive information about its suppliers, allowing site visitors to click descriptions of each supplier’s offerings and request additional information. “We manage complexity for suppliers and customers,” Martinez said.

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Although Univar sells a range of chemicals products from some 8,000 suppliers used in industrial and consumer products, Martinez sums up the business in how it’s able to serve customers. “We sell one product: customer experience,” he said.

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