You might call it the king of all ecommerce migraine headaches.
Imagine having tens of thousands of products for sale on your site, offering discounts to customers who buy in bulk, but having to manually add each discount you want to offer because you can’t automate the process.
“It was a giant headache,” Nolan Goodman, the VP of Marketing at Merchology says. “Product discounts were being applied one at a time and it could take several days just to make one discount change.”
It might even be mistaken for backend platform hell.
Especially when you consider that Merchology, a leading provider of corporate branded apparel and accessories, now boasts of having more than 50-thousand products. Keep in mind the discount application the company used to speed up the process wasn’t originally created for companies with thousands of SKUs.
“We used a lot of bandaids and workarounds,” Goodman says. “It made it harder for customers to check out and lengthened the sales cycle.”
Merchology was still an ecommerce juggernaut; growing at a frenetic pace and establishing itself as a go-to online store for companies looking to affix their logos on the highest quality apparel from brands like Under Armour for purposes such as:
- Give away as gifts to employees and customers
- Promotional tools at conferences or trade shows
- Ensure employees are wearing branded apparel during company-sponsored events
“We were really successful and doing a terrific job,” Goodman notes. “But there were some things we knew could be improved upon, and we’re always striving to offer the best customer experience imaginable.”
But this is a business that relies on bulk selling.
So not always being able to do things like set minimum purchase quantities or clearly show the discounts being offered to customers purchasing in bulk meant Merchology, despite its impressive growth and success, was leaving money on the table.
That’s not all though.
The shift to mobile, which has arguably dragged its feet a bit in the B2B world, was creeping up on Merchology quickly and impacting conversions.
Wouldn’t It Be Cool If...
“It can’t look too nice,” Goodman says tongue in cheek about B2B ecommerce sites.
It’s a joke of course.
But Goodman suggests there is a sliver of truth to this adage in the B2B world; a nice looking site just might make people wonder whether you’re trying to distract from or cover for a subpar product or offering.
“We weren’t trying to reinvent the selling of corporate gifts,” Goodman concedes. “We just wanted to clean up the site, make it easier to use, and improve the customer experience.”
Historically, Merchology has targeted a desktop market; businesses that generally feel more comfortable using a desktop computer to upload corporate logos, select apparel, and checkout with discounts based on the purchase quantity.
But the mobile shift waits for no one.
So besides redesigning the desktop experience, Merchology wanted to be sure businesses seeking its branded apparel would be treated to the best online shopping experience possible regardless of the device they used to order.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if the discounts popped up automatically,” Goodman recalls the management team at Merchology discussing. “And wouldn’t it be great if ordering from a mobile device was just as fast and easy as ordering from a desktop or tablet?”
So who do you call when you want to create the premier customer experience in the B2B world?
Your brother, of course!
“The big goal was to lift the conversion rate,” says Jon Goodman, Nolan’s brother and the President at Range, a digital marketing agency with a proprietary computing model that leverages data to generate ROI at a fraction of the price other agencies charge. “When we dug in deep on Merchology we realized we could see people were accessing the site on mobile devices but weren’t converting.”
Two big opportunities were in sight::
- Simplify the order process on the Merchology site
- Increase mobile conversions & become device agnostic
But instead of immediately beginning a site redesign, Range engaged in a deep dive that differentiates it from design-only competitors; the agency immersed itself in Merchology’s analytics data to better understand the customer’s journey.
“We spent a lot of time analyzing data before even thinking about UX,” Jon says. “We studied the way in which users switched between mobile and desktop and used the data to build a story to tell us what the site should look like.”
The data was telling a story.
But a successful redesign; one that includes automation, simplicity, and a significant return on investment would require a unique tool never before available to merchants like Merchology.
That is until now.
Keys to the Back Door
Remember, this is a tale of the really good striving to be even better.
In fact, the accelerated growth Merchology has experienced year after year prompted the company to upgrade to Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce platform for high volume merchants, in 2014. Merchology needed a platform that could scale on demand and grow with it as customer demand increased.
Turns out Merchology’s timing couldn’t be better.
Just as the company was plotting its redesign, Shopify Plus announced it was handing its merchants keys to the platform’s backdoor when it unveiled Shopify Scripts, which offers merchants the ability to write their own custom code on Shopify’s servers. With scripts merchants can have it all; the freedom to write their own code as well as the scalability, reliability, and affordability associated with cloud-based ecommerce.
“This is a game changer and really cool,” Jon says. “Instead of finding workarounds, using apps, or writing code to trick the system, Scripts gives us the flexibility we need to customize ecommerce sites which benefits merchants, customers, and agencies like us.”
Here’s how Range used Scripts to reinvent Merchology’s site:
Rather than applying discounts manually and product by product, Jon used Scripts to automate the discount process which saves Merchology time that may now be spent on more important things like customer service while also dramatically improving the user the experience.
The discounts are applied automatically, and customers can see the discounts they’ve earned right there in their carts:
Remember how it could sometimes take Merchology days to add a single discount?
“Now it’s a ten-second process,” Nolan says. “It’s instantaneous which allows us to get new products on the site quicker and shorten the sales cycle.”
It’s a simpler checkout process with fewer steps, and customers are taking notice and leaving reviews like this one:
"The prices were unbeatable and the quality was superb. I like the ordering process and the way it's easy to see the products as well as threshold for discounts. I've already ordered a second time and now they are "bookmarked" as my "go to" source!"
Verified Buyer Lisa T.
“We haven’t seen anyone using Scripts the way we’re using it with Merchology,” Jon says.
It’s why Merchology is trying to patent the way it uses Scripts to offer customers dynamic or live pricing. The custom code Range created with Scripts actually looks inside a customer’s cart, identifies when a customer has made a change (say they adjust an item’s size or order quantity), and automatically adjusts the checkout price in real-time:
“I’m so excited about the dynamic pricing,” Jon remarks. “We think it’s really unique and powerful. Scripts allows us to be much more creative which is fantastic.”
Customers no longer have to wait until they have access to a desktop to easily order from Merchology. In fact, the redesign now makes it just as easy to checkout on a mobile device as a desktop.
“Simplicity drives sales regardless of device,” Nolan says. “We’ve made it simple to order and checkout regardless of whether a customer is using a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device.”
Since launching the redesigned site in September 2016 Merchology reports the following:
- A 340% year over year increase in revenue per mobile device
- A 40% lift in mobile conversion rates
“I may be a bit biased since Jon’s my brother, but the results are amazing,” Nolan says. “It’s awesome, but I can’t say I’m surprised because I expected impressive results.”
The future may be even brighter.
Scratching the Surface
With the shackles gone…
Scripts positions enterprise level companies of all types to customize their sites in ways they may otherwise not have been considering.
“We’re not sure Shopify had B2B companies like ours in mind when they released Scripts,” Nolan says. “But we saw it as an opportunity to use Scripts non-traditionally and hope it inspires others to be creative as well.”
It’s early, but Merchology and Range are already thinking about other potential ways to use Scripts to improve on an already world-class customer experience:
- Recognize existing customers from new ones & apply pricing accordingly
- Further personalize the experience based on products selected and discounts applied
- Offer new ways to utilize customer logos on the product page and in the cart
“We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible,” Jon points out. “I see a lot of larger enterprises starting to move over to Shopify now that Scripts has been released. ”
It’s a future filled with possibility and one that’ll be fueled by creativity.
Especially now that Merchology and merchants worldwide, have been freed from the headache of manually adding discounts and wasting time.
“I’m so glad those days are over,” Nolan says with a laugh. “Everything is so much simpler now for everyone involved.”