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Floor care company Bissell brushes up its e-commerce offerings

June 1, 2015 02:18 PM
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Bissell Homecare Inc., a family-owned company that’s been manufacturing vacuum cleaners and other floor-care products for 139 years, has embarked on a project to enhance and unify its 18 global e-commerce sites. For the first of the new sites, Bissell’s Canadian site, it is recording higher average orders, digital programs manager Jacki Schreiner says.

The new technology platform includes web content management and e-commerce technology from Sitecore Corp. The Sitecore Experience Platform technology system is designed to let web site operators deploy and manage web content and online shopping carts through a single system, enabling them to provide consistent content and purchasing features across multiple web sites.

The Sitecore software replaces former technology that failed to ensure brand message consistency across multiple sites, Bissell says. In addition to its Canada site, Bissell will also be updating at least three of its other sites, Schreiner says, and has already begun updating its U.S. site.   

Founded in the late 1800s, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Bissell sells vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, mops and other floor-cleaning products to such major retailers as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that buy through the company’s sales reps as well as through its B2B e-commerce site. The manufacturer also sells to small retailers and consumers through Bissell.com.

Small businesses and consumers from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, Israel, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Poland and the Middle East research and purchase Bissell products online at Bissell.com. The site initially launched in 2000.  

But, in 2011, Bissell noticed its web team was spending a lot of time moving online images and sharing product descriptions among its individual sites. Some countries’ sites were well stocked with high-resolution photos and comprehensive descriptions, while others were lacking.

“The current structure limits our ability to deliver a consistent user experience globally and across brands,” Schreiner says. “Many of our global web sites are on completely different web site platforms, which means that content and functionality cannot be shared between them, leading to sometimes differing experiences and information for our consumers.”

Bissell knew it needed to unify and update its admittedly outdated web sites, Schreiner says. The manufacturer decided to focus first on its Canadian web site—which represented a major market for the company, but lacked the capabilities of some of its other regional sites such as the U.S. site—and switch it to a combination of a web content management system and e-commerce technology in the Sitecore Experience Platform software suite.

The manufacturer employed Horizontal Integration, a web design and software developer staffing agency, to build the new Canada.Bissell.com on Sitecore’s technology. Development on the Canadian site began in the fourth quarter of 2013, and the new Canada.Bissell.com launched in the third quarter of 2014. On Canada.Bissell.com, prices are updated nightly with data pulled directly from the company’s Oracle enterprise resource planning system, or ERP, which handles Bissell’s inventory and financial records.

Dave Michela, a digital strategist at Horizontal Integration who is working on the Bissell project, says new features available to Bissell in the Sitecore platform include product recommendations based on customers’ prior shopping behavior, an FAQ section, and a section where buyers can sign up to be notified of future information on particular products.

Customers can also find a service center near them. In addition, they can rate products and write reviews through a customer reviews section provided by Bazaarvoice Inc., the leading provider of ratings and review technology to the Internet Retailer Top 500, with 188 clients among the 500 leading online retailers in North America, according to Top500Guide.com.  

Schreiner declines to comment on the cost of deploying Sitecore system. But she notes that Bissell saw a “significant increase” in customers’ average order value and the company’s total revenue after launching the new Canadian site. Horizontal Experience has already started developing Bissell’s U.S. web site—switching it from Ektron web content management system to Sitecore. The U.S. web site is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2015. Schreiner says Bissell then will likely update its United Kingdom, Australian and New Zealand sites. The U.S. web site will also use a custom e-commerce platform built by Horizontal Integration using Sitecore technology. 

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow Nona Tepper, associate editor for B2B e-commerce, on Twitter @ntepper90.

 

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