Better Customer Insight Leads to a Stellar Online Experience

Client: J. J. Keller & Associates Inc.
Partner: IBM WebSphere Commerce and Digital Analytics
Provide customers with a hyper-personalized online experience by revamping the company’s website and leveraging deep analytics

The Back Story: A cluttered homepage, slow loading times, fairly regular crashing, disorganized navigation—it’s not going too far to say that three years ago J. J. Keller‘s online retail portal was plagued with issues.

“We needed a site that would provide customers with a good, clean buying experience, not only helping them find the right products and services, but also the right content to help them with their business,” says Adrienne Hartman, the company’s director of e-commerce and customer insights.

Sounds simple enough—but there were several unique challenges standing in J. J. Keller’s way.

Take the nature of its online commerce. J. J. Keller provides products and services, including publications, forms, training, supplies, software, mobile technology, and online management tools to help businesses deal with the constantly evolving federal and state regulations regarding transportation, safety, and human resources that affect their everyday operations. That means some regulations apply to certain customers, while others aren’t even a consideration.

Also at issue is the somewhat dual quality of the website, a mixture of e-commerce and lead generation. While some customers might access via a search engine and make a purchase on their first visit, many of the products and services available on the website are higher consideration, which makes it more about post-browsing follow-up by a J. J. Keller sales representative.

J. J. Keller needed a tool to ensure that individual consumers, small businesses, and large corporations could all experience the same high level of personalization, engagement, relevancy, and seamless interactivity. Enter IBM WebSphere Commerce.

“There are so many different systems out there and they’re not connecting, which makes it difficult to get a common understanding of one’s customers,” says Allison Manetakis, IBM product line manager. “And as with all B2B companies, J. J. Keller was looking specifically to get more intelligence about its customers.”

The Goal: The equation is simple: Better customer intelligence means a better customer experience. It’s what consumers get in the B2C space and what they’ve come to expect from their B2B experiences, too. The bottom line is “B2B shoppers are still consumers—they’re still people, and they have a lot of the same drivers and the same desire for information as people do in the B2C world,” says Hartman, who spent more than eight years in B2C commerce at clothing retailer Lands’ End.

IBM’s Manetakis says she’s “been hearing for 10 years now from B2B marketers that they want to be more like Amazon—but what does that really mean?” At base, B2B marketers are looking for an easier way to create targeted offerings and do business with relevant customers. But this can be an arduous task on the B2B side, a

place where some B2B customers are only permitted to buy certain items from a catalog, while others by contract are only allowed to be contacted by certain affiliates about specific products.

“The nature of how B2B companies interact with customers is different from B2C and needs to be managed in the background so there’s more elegance,” she says. “What you have to do is understand that complexity and still create a great experience.”

The Solution:
To dynamically interact within specific customer contexts, J. J. Keller first used IBM’s Digital Analytics software (previously called Coremetrics) to track the actions of all its website’s visitors. Information about the behaviors and movements of the website’s visitors is automatically sent to Digital Analytics where it can be segmented, combed for patterns, and combined with other customer data to build profiles in WebSphere Commerce. Customers are then served targeted messaging, spot-on recommendations, and meaningful offers.

The personalization also extends to the interface itself. When the largest 50 or so of its corporate clients log in to their accounts, the website changes for them, transforming into what Hartman calls “a truly useful buying tool.” Customers see their own corporate logo, products, pricing, shipping regulations, and their personal sales rep’s name. For other customers, what they see might change based on what state they’re in, the referring URL, or their browsing history and past purchasing behavior.

“For example, if a particular state is changing its regulations, we would show the [website] visitor different content based on that change,” Hartman says. “The content visitors see is based on the many different things we know about them—there are many different dynamic zones on the site and the content changes as appropriate.”

WebSphere Commerce also gives J. J. Keller an edge when it comes to A/B testing, which leads to more targeted marketing and the ability to instantly serve the right content at the right time. J. J. Keller uses the tool to identify the top navigation paths customers take through the website and tweak the content visitors are exposed to.

“It sounds obvious, but when you see what people look at most, you can improve their experience to make it easier for them to find relevant items,” Hartman says.

“We’ve seen great increases in revenue and conversion rates as a result.” It’s the analytics that makes the difference, Hartman adds. “Without analytics, you’re just guessing you know what the top navigation paths are—but with analytics, you can prove it,” she says.

“We have the data from before and the data from after, so we can [show] that those resources we invested in were definitely worth the money.”

The Results: Since implementing WebSphere Commerce and Digital Analytics, J. J. Keller has increased revenue by 19%, improved conversion rates from shopper to buyer by 19%, and upped customer satisfaction by nearly 5%. Average order size grew by about 6%.

In addition to delivering impressive metrics, Hartman explains that IBM’s solution has saved her—and the IT department—a great amount of time. Whereas she and her business team used to have to consult IT any time they needed to make a change on the website, they no longer rely on IT intervention to dynamically—and quickly—update content. “IT doesn’t have to spend time on these changes anymore, so they can focus on bigger, more strategic changes, and it allows us to be as timely as we need to be,” Hartman says. “When something big happens in the industry, we can respond the same day.”

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