Wholesale, Industrial & Commercial

Steelcase Needed a Modern and Modular B2B Sales Platform

Steelcase needed to make a change to their eCommerce platforms. They made the strategic decision to find a modern, modular, and flexible B2B sales platform.
B2B Sales - Steelcase
25 Quadrillion SKUs
1,000s of B2B Sites in Development
~90% of B2B Sales from eProcurement

The furniture giant was ready for a digital transformation.

For the past century, Steelcase has led the office furniture industry by creating inspiring, people-centered workplaces. The Steelcase business model is extremely complex, serving customers of all sizes: from individuals searching for the perfect office chair, to major global enterprises looking to outfit an entire office building. The company sells products through an extensive dealer network, and offers a build-to-order product portfolio with so many options that a recent audit revealed more than 25 quadrillion possible SKUs.

B2B Sales - Steelcase

The company’s existing bespoke platform couldn’t keep pace with the rapidly changing eCommerce market. So, they made the strategic decision to find a modern, modular, and flexible platform– one that aligned with their brand and technical vision. After an extensive comparison of solutions they chose Magento Commerce and the Technology Partner, PunchOut Catalogs.

The May 2015 launch of the new Steelcase eCommerce platform was planned in three phases: The first phase was geared toward individual consumers—roughly 10 percent of their eCommerce business. This set the operation’s core functionality. The second phase was focused on B2B customers, who require standard website and checkout experiences. The third phase addressed the more technically complicated electronic procurement, or e-procurement, aspects of their B2B business, that accounts for nearly 90 percent of their B2B business. This would be the main challenge.

Magento is a modern, flexible platform that allows us to present our complex product offering to customers in a friendly, approachable, and easy-to-understand way. It’s aligned to our brand and what customers expect from a modern online shopping experience.

Eric Zillmer
eBusiness Platform Manager, Steelcase Inc.

A foundation for 1,000s of custom sites.

Steelcase needed to integrate Magento Commerce with existing customer e-procurement systems, including Ariba, SAP, and Jaggaer. These larger customers start from their internal e-procurement systems, and seamlessly “punch out” to the Steelcase web store where they can browse, search, and add products to their shopping cart via a user-friendly web experience. The cart contents are automatically passed back to their internal e-procurement system where the sale is approved and becomes a purchase order.

B2B Sales - Steelcase

The multi-site architecture of Magento will serve as a robust foundation for creating thousands of customer-specific sites throughout the Steelcase dealer network. Each customer’s site will be completely customizable, from product configurations and purchase process, to the site’s logo and color scheme.

When setting up a customer site, Steelcase works with the customer and dealers to identify products from their contract to include in their customized online catalog. They leverage Magento simple products with custom options, so the customer can select a base chair, for example, and then choose from a variety of options attached to the base product identity (like color, fabric, roller type, arm types, etc.). One product identity can have thousands of variations.

How Steelcase built a better B2B sales experience.

Thanks to Magento, Steelcase has managed its highly complex product catalog via a direct integration with their specialized catalog builder system. This integration allows Steelcase to generate a manufacturing catalog, which contains all the nuts and bolts, and a marketing catalog aimed at a non-furniture expert, with more user-friendly options and choices. This marketing catalog is used for Steelcase customer websites. When customers choose a product online, their selections are communicated to the catalog builder which translates them into the manufacturing definition used by dealers to submit and fulfill the order.

To customize the shopping experience and appropriately route orders, Steelcase has built a “chooser” feature that asks the customer a series of questions to determine the correct dealer, how the sale should be billed, and what portion of the catalog a customer should see. For example, if a business has several buildings and each one has a different set of products, the customer would only see products approved for use in their specific building. You wouldn’t want a red fabric chair with no arms to show up when all the others are black leather with arms. Customers can select products from the appropriate catalog and checkout via the correct dealer using their pre-approved payment process.

B2B Sales - Steelcase

Steelcase customer sites also support online quote requests that are routed to the dealer business system for response. Dealers then create a quote and push it back to Magento, where their customers complete their purchase through an expedited checkout process. Steelcase can also set business rules to force an order to become a quote if it contains certain products that require additional handholding, or exceeds a quantity or price threshold.

The new Magento Commerce platform has had a significant impact on customer experience. In keeping with the changing expectations of online shopping, the modern, flexible sites present offerings in an intuitive way. Customers can easily move through the site, select products, and complete orders that will be manufactured specifically for them.