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Illustration_60886103 / Kheng To To / Dreamstime
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Illustration 60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime
Electricalmarketing 111 Crescenthome 0

Crescent Electric Supply Launches New E-Commerce Platform for www.cesco.com

Oct. 18, 2013
The new storefront makes it easy to find any of the over 200,000 products that Crescent Electric sells and allows users to browse content using product images and to search for products via keyword or partial catalog numbers. The website’s product content includes specification sheets and full-color images with a compare feature to view specifications side-by-side. IDEA, Trade Service and Blosm Software provide approximately 75% of the product data on the website, but Crescent also has two full-time people searching the Internet for additional data and graphics for product descriptions.

Crescent Electric Supply Co., East Dubuque, Ill., launched a new online storefront earlier this week at www.cesco.com.  The new storefront makes it easy to find any of the over 200,000 products that Crescent Electric sells and allows users to browse content using product images and to search for products via keyword or partial catalog numbers.  Once customers find the parts they need, they can check local inventory, order on account or request a quote.

The website’s product content includes specification sheets and full-color images with a compare feature to view specifications side-by-side. It also has special categories to highlight energy-saving products and “Hot Products.” Cesco.com is available 24x7x365 and accessible via Mac, PC or tablet.

Mike Mayer, Crescent Electric Supply’s director, E-business strategy and commerce, told Electrical Marketing in an interview that the e-commerce features on www.cesco.com utilize Hybris/SAP software for the shopping platform and Oracle’s Endeca Commerce software for search and navigation. He said that approximately 60% of the content for the product descriptions comes from IDEA’s IDW (industry data warehouse) and that the company supplemented that data with Trade Service product data, as well. They also used Thanx Media’s Blosm Software to crawl manufacturers’ websites for additional product specifications and related data.

Mayer says these sources provided approximately 75% of the product data on the web-site, but that it also has two full-time people searching the Internet for additional data and graphics for product descriptions.

In a press release announcing the Oct. 15 launch of the online storefront, Mayer said, “The key to any e-commerce website is to make it easy to find products. The secret sauce involves building out good product content along with a very user-friendly shopping experience. Cesco.com hits the nail on the head with robust product content and a retail shopping experience.”

The e-commerce platform went live with 200,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units) available through search. Of those SKUs, Crescent Electric has 17,000 products catalogued into a custom taxonomy that it developed to help visitors navigate the site. Mayer says creating the custom taxonomy is a big job, but that it provides a better user experience because customers can find products faster than they can on competitors’ websites that use a standard industry taxonomy. The e-commerce team plans to add approximately 1,000 products each month into its custom taxonomy.

Mayer says Crescent Electric Supply invested in the e-commerce storefront because more customers are ordering products online. “They want to be able to put an order in from the field on a tablet and then come in and pick it up,” he says. “It makes sense for us to provide this channel because it makes us easier to do business with.”

Before coming to Crescent Electric Supply, Mayer helped Thermo Fisher Scientific, a laboratory equipment  company,  build its B2B e-commerce platform and built several other business-to-consumer web storefronts for his own start-up businesses. He says some definite similarities exist between Crescent Electric Supply’s new e-commerce platform and what he built for Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Both industries have their niche features and applications but there is about a 90% crossover. That’s the case with many distributor sites — lots of similar bells and whistles.”

In recent weeks, Mayer has spent a lot of time training Crescent Electric Supply’s sales force and their customers on how to use the website through webinars, field visits, ride-alongs with salespeople and online, all-company town hall meetings.