From the farm to the web!
In 2012, the Agriculture Industry’s leading provider of nutrients to America’s dairy farmers (I’ll call them CowCo) had a simple problem.
The time had come to get on the web.
After 7 years of solution investigations and false starts, they still couldn’t find an affordable way to deploy a B2B eCommerce website that integrated with their SAP® system.
That is until they met the team at Corevist.
Up until the time the met us, none of the solutions they pursued quite ticked off all of the boxes on their checklist, which was really quite short:
- User friendly – their customers were farmers who didn’t want to go browsing or shopping. They had dairy cows to take care of and wanted to place and track orders as quickly and simply as possible; at their convenience, 24×7, without any training whatsoever. It had to be accurate and totally intuitive.
- SAP® integrated – there was simply too much complexity in the SAP® data and business rules to even consider managing them in two places.
- Affordable – this was the major showstopper over the years. This meant total cost of ownership which included software, hardware, implementation services and after Go-Live operations. They were the “step-child” division of one of the oldest and most successful brand name organizations in the world. Their division never got the attention (aka funds and IT support) that the flagship divisions enjoyed. Since time is money, it also had to be done quickly and with low impact on their already over-committed internal resources.
The story’s timeline.
- September 2012 – In a rare showing of courage, CowCo canceled a project in mid-flight due to their Vendor’s declaration of scope changes, ongoing price increases and repeated delays. A desperate Google search leads them to Corevist (actually b2b2dot0 at the time).
- April 2013 – All business, technical and legal due diligence completed, references checked, proposals reviewed and contracts signed.
- June 2013 – We conducted our standard onsite project kickoff. That meant we brought our out-of-the-box Corevist Service which we had already integrated in real time to their development instance of SAP®, and spent two days with a team of CowCo employees getting answers to the question “why can’t this go into production tomorrow?”.
- August 2013 – CowCo’s SAP® integrated B2B eCommerce website is ready to go into production. However we took a pause to focus on the paperwork they needed because they are in a FDA regulated industry, I wrote about this in Feb of 2014.
- November 2013 – First production order goes through the system! That’s about seven months from contract signing to an event that had been equated to be as unlikely as landing on the moon.
As you can see from the following Google Analytics graph of CowCo’s results, the results have been nothing short of spectacular. After a brief pilot period at the end of 2013, ramp up began in earnest in 2014. The first six months of 2014 (I couldn’t wait to publish the results so we’re a few days shy of a full month in June :-)), showed an average monthly revenue growth rate of 63%! At this annualized run rate, CowCo’s B2B ecommerce website would be listed around #200 on the Internet Retailer 500. That means they would be keeping company with B2C websites like: UnderAmour, TimeLife, Wine.com and RadioShack.
That’s after being online for only 6 months!
What I love most about CowCo’s SAP® B2B eCommerce story is that I think it is very representative of what I’m going to call the real “Industrial” sector of SAP® Manufacturers. You probably won’t ever find dairy cow feed and nutrient supplies sold by the truckload on Amazon. Yet farmers do want that ease of use they get from Amazon and the convenience of 24×7 access combined with the real time information that is in SAP® about their pricing, product availability etc. They might also want to access the website from mobile devices, although these farmers seem to want to keep their cellphones as far away from their cows as possible and have accessed the website from desktop computers 100% of the time.
These aren’t consumers doing research or browsing for products. To be sure those types of B2B customers exist, but the true Industrial buyers know what they want to buy and are simply looking for convenient ways to place their orders quickly and accurately. Rich content to these farmers doesn’t mean user reviews and youtube videos, it means “if I roll a truck to your XYZ Plant on Tuesday, will you be able to fill me up with product”.
Lastly, Google Analytics gives us this (typical for Industrial Manufacturer’s) fingerprint of CowCo’s SAP® Integrated B2B eCommerce website:
- only 100 registered users
- orders with only 1 line item per order
- an average order size of $15,730
- a conversion rate of 72.88%
CowCo has gone from the labor intensive processing of all phone, fax and email orders to managing 25% of their orders via an FDA validated SAP® Integrated B2B eCommerce website within 6 months of GoLive.
Who knew that a simple website would make cows happier which would make farmers happier which would make CowCo happier? Which of course, makes me happier!