Government, Non-Profit & Education
American Chemical Society Discovers a Formula for Digital Transformation
Solidifying Customer Experience
The American Chemical Society (ACS) knows all about good chemistry. With more than 155,000 members scattered around the globe — including prominent Nobel Prize winners — delivering the highest level of service and support is critical. However, a few years ago, the nonprofit scientific society, founded in 1876, faced declining membership.
ACS, a membership organization, is also recognized as a leading publisher of authoritative scientific information and responsible for publishing 65+ peer-reviewed journals. ACS facilitates connections through its national and regional meetings, educational services, and its global reach. They recognized that to turn around the membership numbers, they needed a new formula for success.
“We realized that we had to do a better job of connecting to members and delivering relevant resources. We also wanted to grow membership,” explains Janet Dade, Senior Director, Society and Administrative Technology, at the organization.
Complicating matters, ACS had older technologies that didn’t respond to the business needs. The applications and systems delivered information, education, career services, professional development, and more. They were built in a siloed fashion, and the CRM and e-commerce were primarily US-based, but their members were global. “We wanted to establish more intimate and meaningful relationships with members,” Dade says.
Our members expected us to know who they were no matter what channel they communicated or interfaced with us. We were frequently operating with limited ability to connect channels and data.Janet Dade
Senior Director, Society and Administrative Technology
Finding the Right Solution
Despite its excellent reputation, the American Chemical Society recognized a need to shift to a more modern and robust e-commerce platform with integrated CRM.
“We started with the idea that the member experience should be similar to what they experience in their everyday lives” Dade explains. “It should be streamlined and easy to navigate. It should be simple for members to accomplish tasks, and we should have the ability to establish a more personal and relevant relationship with them.”
Working with technology and process digitization partner Innover, ACS set out to chart a path to progress. After conducting a detailed assessment of systems and processes, Innover recommended Magento Commerce for the platform’s unsurpassed agility and flexibility. Magento Commerce would replace the mix of existing, homegrown, and commercial systems and open up new ways for the organization to communicate with members.
This meant addressing a variety of key issues.
“ACS required flexibility to handle everything from managing memberships and communications to delivering relevant marketing materials and selling merchandise within a single framework,” explains Rakesh Prasad, Vice President of Digital Business at Innover.
Not only would Magento Commerce integrate easily and smoothly with the existing ACS IT infrastructure, it could connect to other solutions the organization already used, including Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, and Adobe Analytics.
Adding to the appeal, Dade says, is the fact that the Magento Commerce platform delivers strong foundational support for APIs. This made it possible to drive digital transformation and easily integrate the e-commerce solution with several existing tools and products, including GoToWebinar, which ACS uses to deliver weekly webinars to consumers across the globe.
An Element of Success
The migration to a modern e-commerce platform has helped the American Chemical Society unveil new and improved features. For instance, after conducting a four-month test using the Magento platform in 2020, membership spiked by 13,000. They used the data from these tests to identify other uses.
One of the biggest gains is sending the right information to the right people at the right time — and thus boosting value. In the past, ACS had entirely separate front-ends and workflows for processing new members and handling member renewals.
“This resulted in a heavy administrative load and numerous errors, but also an inability to ensure that people received the right experience when they paid their dues,” Dade says.
With Magento Commerce, the organization skips over time-consuming manual tasks and everyone receives the most relevant materials and experience.
“It streamlined things for everyone,” Dade notes.
Yet the improvements didn’t stop there. When the organization was forced to hold its 2020 fall biannual meeting virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Magento Commerce platform allowed ACS to integrate a virtual expo hall as well as a virtual storefront. Using a plug-in solution from technology provider Spoon Exhibit Services, ACS created a 3D shop that let visitors wander around and view merchandise through their web browser then select products to purchase through Magento Commerce.
“It provided an experience as if they were walking around in a store,” Dade points out. “When they saw something they wanted to purchase, they simply clicked on it, it was transferred to Magento Commerce to their shopping cart, and they paid using the Magento Commerce connector Payeezy, a First Data payment gateway and payment processor.”
Other benefits resulting from the move to the Magento Commerce platform include reducing development time for projects by approximately 50%, improving privacy and cybersecurity controls, and introducing a framework that makes it much easier to add new features and capabilities. For example, ACS is introducing web analytics that allow the organization to see where and when members are clicking and then direct them to relevant content and materials.
Dade says the organization now has an e-commerce technology foundation in place that will support it for years to come — and allow ACS to roll out additional features and capabilities. This includes a current mobile content initiative that is particularly appealing to younger members.
“The American Chemical Society has built a framework that focuses on personalization and helps it increase customer lifetime value,” Prasad concludes. “The organization is now well-positioned for the future.”
Our analytics capabilities increased dramatically. We suddenly found that we could use existing data much more effectively and target potential and existing members better.Janet Dade
Senior Director, Society and Administrative Technology