There’s strength in numbers, with four companies, four web shops, and the recent addition of four e-commerce apps on a single platform, Sonepar Canada is seeing real benefits from its synergy strategy. The firm – which is Canada’s largest privately-held B-to-B electrical product distributor – had the great idea of creating an initial app, then developing four versions of it. This approach has saved the Sonepar Canada group a lot of time and money. With some help from ieffects. Despite the complex challenge of mirroring as many web shop features as possible in the app, ieffects was able to keep development time down to just eight months – including the test phase. All the apps have been available to download since early June and work offline as well as online.
Imagine a construction site somewhere in Canada. The electricians suddenly realize they need a specific size of cable. They can just order it then and there from Sonepar – cut to exactly the right length. There are now new e-commerce apps for four of Sonepar’s subsidiaries: Lumen, Gescan, Sesco and Vallen. They offer professionals between 150,000 and 300,000 products they can buy as quick as lightning with a few taps on their mobile device. “Our apps are the fastest in the world,” says Andreas Unseld, Project Manager at ieffects. “Speed is essential to the success of an e-commerce app, because 40% of users abandon their search if they have to wait for data for longer than three seconds.”
Although there are differences in the four apps’ branding and product ranges, plus a French interface as well as English in the case of the Lumen app, they all have the same structure and functionality. The team managed to carry over many of the web shop features, which customers know and appreciate, to the apps and ensure that the web shops and apps are always synchronized.
So what does the app offer its users? They can add a personalized code – such as a company-internal product reference – to an article or allocate a specific storage location to items and filter them accordingly. The Quicklist shows users the products they have labeled themselves and they can view the Product History to see how many of which products they ordered in the past.
Another interesting function is that customers can access multiple accounts with the same login and password. That makes the ordering process quicker, easier, and more tailored to users’ needs. In their accounts, users can save a range of different delivery addresses as well as special pricing terms and conditions they may have negotiated beforehand for a specific project.
There’s also a great selection of products that really goes into detail. For example, users can choose the length and quantity of cables they need and order the right cable reel for them. The app also shows customer-specific product suggestions to make the user experience even better.
“We’ve always worked really well with Sonepar subsidiaries when developing apps for them and this project was no exception,” says Andreas Unseld. “Any initial worries about cultural and time differences disappeared quickly with our Slack collaboration tool, which is used by the entire development team. That enabled us to react to and implement any specific requests very quickly. Another advantage for the customer was that we’re a successful Swiss company that has no problem communicating and working in both English and French. We love a challenge – and the interfaces certainly gave us one! But we’re proud that we succeeded in integrating a completely new service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on REST web services. That demonstrates the flexibility of our app as well as of our development team!”