Operating a B2B eCommerce business over the past decade has required a creative approach to the digital experience. With few off-the-shelf options capable of empowering a robust B2B operation, many merchants have turned to highly customized solutions. The team at Outdoor Cap was one of these merchants. Offering custom headwear to businesses and promotional products providers, the company had specific needs to help support their business. They had built a mature eCommerce practice in a custom ASP.NET site that was tightly integrated with a robust ERP. However, Outdoor Cap was looking to grow into new channels. They also wanted to streamline the ordering process and provide self-service for their B2B clients. It was time for a change.
The Outdoor Cap team knew they wanted to find a solution that could serve as a solid framework for their B2B needs. They needed to move from their homegrown solution to one that had the flexibility to expand as the company grew. With integration needs for the platform front and center, a critical factor in platform selection was the ability to establish integrations in a timely fashion.
After an investigation of several platform options, the Outdoor Cap team selected Magento Commerce Cloud as their solution. Access to a deep community in the Magento space also played a role in their decision. With a strong community backing the platform, Outdoor Cap had what they needed to feel comfortable the platform could easily be modified to fit changes in their business needs. The Magento Cloud offering also provided a Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution to free up overhead in the area of infrastructure management.
The timing of Outdoor Cap’s selection of Magento was also ideal. They choose the Magento solution at the same time the 2.2 version of the solution was being released. This was the first release from Magento containing key B2B functionality needed for the Outdoor Cap project. At the core of Outdoor Cap’s customer engagement model was a need to support complex pricing. Magento provided this functionality to display the right price, to the right customer, at the right time.
With Outdoor Cap serving as one of the first merchants to select the Magento Cloud 2.2 release for their B2B needs, it was imperative that they be paired with a proper agency to roll out the solution. Magento introduced Outdoor Cap to Classy Llama for the site development. The Classy Llama team had B2B experience building solutions within Magento prior to the B2B specific functionality released in the 2.2 version of the platform. In addition, the Classy Llama team was relatively close to the Outdoor Cap headquarters. Experience, team cohesiveness, and geographic proximity won out in the end and Classy Llama partnered with Outdoor Cap to deliver the site they required.
With a partner selected, the Classy Llama team began the process of developing the Outdoor Cap site. The project began in October 2017 with an aggressive timeline set to deploy the new site in February 2018. Working through more detailed discovery of Outdoor Cap data, processes, and new site operations moved the need to address product pricing to the forefront. Like many mature B2B-facing organizations, Outdoor Cap had grown their pricing approach in an organic manner. Many of the pricing rules and logic had evolved individually as a response to specific customer requests, and were very individualized with specific pricing formulas in multiple spreadsheets. Assumptions made at the beginning of the project had to be re-examined quickly with the expected launch date rapidly approaching.
With Classy Llama utilizing the Agile Development approach, pivoting in the middle of the project was not as painful as it could have been with a fixed bid, fixed-scope project. By updating the definition of MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and through some creative solutions engineering, the Classy Llama team was able to work with Outdoor Cap to solve the unexpected challenge with minimal impact to the timeline and the budget.
The constant communication between teams led to new ideas and new requirements to improve the customer and the customer service experience. These were incorporated into the scope of work when they made sense for launch, and labeled for post-launch follow-up if they didn’t. By focusing on delivering working code into a stage environment as quickly as possible, Classy Llama was able to prototype complex situations rapidly to uncover the real requirements. No one knows the full scope of work before the code gets written and real data starts flowing through the site, and iterating on a working model helped Outdoor Cap deliver the right functionality in the best possible timeline.
One area that proved to be most positively impacted by taking an agile approach to the Outdoor Cap project was that of site deployment. When working through user personas with the team, the fact that a significant portion of the Outdoor Cap customer group tended to be non-technical in nature brought up concerns. Providing a sweeping change of the site to all clients posed a risk to revenue given potential customer frustration. In addition, the site roll-out to this group of customers would also mean a temporary spike in customer support.
As an offset to this risk, Outdoor Cap and Classy Llama determined a beta release of the site would be ideal. The beta approach would move initial delivery timelines; however, the risk mitigation benefit outweighed the timeline shift. A fully transactional site was released in March with campaigns leading up to the release designed to drive clients to participate in the beta release. Feedback from clients was reported back to Classy Llama. Issues found were prioritized and addressed with some changes to key customer interactions.
The beta project found that the default password reset process in Magento was providing some confusion to customers. There were also adjustments needed to the product detail page to provide all the information customers needed to finalize their orders. These needs were addressed with a number of other items to prepare for a full release to all customers.
In May 2018, all Outdoor Cap clients moved to the new site. From the beta release, the Outdoor Cap team was prepared for known speed bumps with rolling out the site to the entire customer base. The team was ready to help with password resets and other technical hiccups. Other adjustments from the beta launch approach were also beneficial to the actual site go-live.
The new framework had also delivered empowerment to Outdoor Cap’s team. Functioning teams now existed without a need for IT gatekeepers to apply changes. “My marketing team can now go in and add a new CMS block or a landing page without heavy IT investment!” stated Ben Roberts, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Outdoor Cap. Analytics was completely revamped with solid information coming back from Google Tag Manager that could be trusted. The team had also implemented additional best practices including tying sessions to purchases.
Designing the site with the customer experience top of mind proved to deliver a solid final product for Outdoor Cap’s needs. In addition to delivering the needed solution for Outdoor Cap in an agile environment, the project came in under budget! Selecting the right solution, partnering with an experienced agency, and working within a flexible model combined to deliver a successful site launch.