In a question-and-answer session with Digital Commerce 360, State Electric senior director of marketing and digital solutions Ryan Ramsby discussed how the distributor is taking on new digital challenges and opportunities.

State Electric Co. has been in business for 72 years. A big reason for its longevity is straightforward: staying current. Being current in B2B digital commerce and transformation is a top priority for the distributor. It handles electrical supplies across 41 branches in seven states.

In a question-and-answer session with Digital Commerce 360, State Electric senior director of marketing and digital solutions Ryan Ramsby discussed what the company is doing. He touched on how the distributor is taking on new digital challenges and opportunities, as well as what is driving digital customer buyer behavior and growth.

Interview with Ryan Ramsby

Digital Commerce 360: What are the top digital commerce priorities for State Electric in 2024? How will you achieve them?

Ryan Ramsby: In 2024, our primary digital commerce priorities revolve around maintaining our position as an industry leader while enhancing customer experience and expanding our toolsets. Our main goal is to ensure a seamless and frictionless journey for our customers, encompassing not only procurement but every facet of their interaction with us.

Currently, we are undertaking a project to upgrade our platform to a more modern and robust system. This upgrade is pivotal as it will grant us greater control over both backend operations and frontend user experience. We aim to deliver a highly personalized experience to our customers, which we feel helps in fostering deeper engagement and loyalty. Furthermore, this upgrade will provide us with the foundation needed to continue innovating in areas that are crucial to our customers.


While this project demands significant resources and attention from our team, we are focused on maintaining the high standard of customer experience for which we are known. We recognize the importance that no aspect of our current customer experience slips through the cracks during this transitional period.

State Electric’s priority channels

DC360:  What are your biggest organizational channels for digital commerce and how are you solving them?

Ramsby: Our organization encountered significant challenges initially with internal adoption. There was a notable hesitancy among our teams regarding the direction we were taking. Questions regarding whether our initiatives aimed to replace our outside sales reps or reduce headcount within internal sales teams.

To overcome the resistance, rather than solely focusing on driving change management internally, we prioritized delivering tangible value to our customers through the digital B2B toolsets we were implementing. As customers began to experience the efficiency and added value offered by our platform, they naturally became advocates, promoting its use to our sales teams.


Moreover, we have made significant strides in integrating our internal tech stack. Leveraging APIs, we have bridged information across all our platforms, providing our internal resources with a more seamless view into our enterprise resource planning (ERP), ecommerce, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation platform, and beyond. This integrated approach has helped streamline operations and empowered our teams to deliver a more cohesive and personalized experience to our customers. So, now they are beginning to see the value themselves.

However, we continue to emphasize that our objective is not to replace our sales teams or diminish the importance of human interactions in fostering relationships. Instead, our aim is to meet our customers at various points along their digital journeys, acknowledging that each customer’s path is unique.

The role of digital transformation at State Electric

DC360:  What does digital transformation mean to State Electric and how is the organization going about it?

Ramsby: Digital transformation at State Electric is built around equipping our employees with the necessary tools to maximize efficiency and knowledge, resulting in top-notch customer experience. With data flowing from various sources and programs, our aim is to continue integrating our tech stack, ensuring that the right data reaches the right people in the right format, time, and place.


Last year, we underwent a significant ERP upgrade, transitioning from an on-premises system to a cloud-based solution. This move not only modernized our user experience but also enables automatic enhancements and updates. The integration between our ERP and e-commerce platform runs deep, facilitating seamless data exchange. However, our efforts extend beyond ERP and e-commerce integration; we have also joined our CRM and marketing automation platform into this interconnected ecosystem. This approach helps keep all stakeholders informed, providing a comprehensive view, and understanding of our account base across various touchpoints, including marketing, accounting, sales, engineering, and project management. Our ongoing focus is on knitting these elements together to create a cohesive organizational framework.

DC360: How are B2B digital commerce sales from 2023 to 2024?

Ramsby: Adoption continues to grow at an incredible rate. Sales are trending at a 3-year CAGR of 42%, we saw an additional 23% increase in account registrations last year, and an average order size increase of 52%.

This growth trajectory is particularly pronounced in two key segments: larger industrial/educational, and smaller electrical contractors. The former group leverages punch-out capabilities through their internal procurement systems, while the latter group is actively seeking ways to enhance efficiency within their operations, recognizing the value of time amidst a labor shortage.


Interestingly, it is the middle-sized contractors and customers that have been slower to adapt.

State Electric’s approach to omnichannel

DC360:  Today’s digitally driven B2B wants an omnichannel purchasing experience. What does this look like for State Electric?

Ramsby: Delivering an omnichannel purchasing experience means seamlessly integrating our ERP system with our online platform. This ensures that each customer’s account-specific information travels with them, regardless of how or where they choose to shop. Our website mirrors the data within our ERP, providing real-time inventory and pricing. Customers can access almost any information they might need from a human in a self-service capacity online. This includes purchasing, checking availability, requesting quotes, making payments, reviewing past orders and invoices, and accessing spec sheets, among other functionalities.

In addition, our customers enjoy flexibility in delivery options. They can choose from various methods, including picking up their orders in-store or opting for delivery to multiple ship-to locations.


We also offer our Advanced Customer Service Team (ACT) online. Customers can reach out to them via phone call, email, or live chat for assistance. Regardless of the channel through which customers place their orders, our objective remains consistent: to provide them with a seamless and high-level experience throughout their purchasing journey.

An evolving B2B marketplace strategy

DC360:  Can you provide an update on the progress of State Electric’s B2B marketplace strategy?

Ramsby: This continues to be a growing area of opportunity for us. We are even beginning to witness a shift as some larger contractors require proof of digital capabilities to bid on larger projects. So, the idea of universities and municipalities and larger industrial facilities being the main players is potentially shifting slightly. So, this really begins to broaden the scale of these opportunities.

With the rising adoption of punch-out functionalities, our focus is going to be the speed of launch. Gone are the days of it taking months to get a customer online, speed is everything. Currently we are in negotiations with providers to determine who we are going to utilize on our new platform to move over our existing B2B punch out customers and who set us up for the best chance of success with new opportunities.


Views on AI

DC360:  How is State Electric using artificial intelligence for e-commerce vs. for marketing or any other functions?

Ramsby: We are deploying it across various functions within the company. In terms of sales and e-commerce, AI is helping optimize inventory management by analyzing inventory volumes and ensuring that the right products are available at the right locations. Additionally, we leverage AI within our pricing structure, utilizing different data points to assist with cost analysis. It also aids us in providing personalized recommendations and bundling frequently bought together products, enhancing the shopping experience for our customers.

On the marketing front, we are primarily utilizing it for site content to improve SEO. It also contributes to our communication efforts through channels such as email campaigns, blogs, and other mediums. While we are already seeing benefits from AI in these areas, there is still a lot of room for growth and refinement. It excels when working with factual data points a bit more than subjective perspectives, and I am eager to witness its continued evolution and impact on our operations.

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