Wholesale, Industrial & Commercial
How FoodServiceDirect.com Delivered A Superior B2B Buyer Experience
Hypercharging B2B Growth
Most of the U.S. shops online for everything they need, so why should the food service industry be any different? This was the initial thought which lead to the founding of FoodServiceDirect.com (FSD) in 1992. While other industries were quick to adopt the transformative potential of eCommerce, the food service industry seemed to move slowly, still relying largely on traditional distribution and cash and carry sourcing methods. FSD is on a mission to change this.
FSD is a US-based food service distributor offering B2C and B2B buyers an ever expanding digital storefront for bulk purchases. With over 250,000 SKUs, their online catalog is stocked with a variety of classic crowd pleasers and comfort foods, alongside environmentally friendly disposable products and supplies. Having made substantial investments in Google Advertising, FSD’s list of customers has steadily grown to include a veritable buffet of retailers, restaurants, delis, food trucks, hospitals, offices, and more.
As FSD continued to grow, the brand continued attracting B2B buyers which account for 50 percent of their customer base. To maintain this momentum, the company planned an ambitious modernization of their digital sales platform tailored to the unique needs of their customer base.
The first of two planned webstores would be an all new eCommerce storefront intended to expand their business into new service areas for both B2B and B2C customers. The secondary store would be structured around a B2B business model created in partnership with one of the major food service franchisee chains.
This secondary B2B-centric platform would empower restaurant franchises, providing a convenient outlet to distribute food products and other consumables directly to their franchisees. Conversely, franchisees would be able to seamlessly manage the entire ordering process across multiple food service locations from a centralized admin dashboard. Now, all FSD needed was a capable leader to get this plan in the oven.
B2B - FoodServiceDirect
Mete Gumus, previously CFO for Unilever Food Service division, was recruited to lead the FSD Team as its Managing Director, a role requiring insight on how to scale the FSD platform through a strategic alliance with manufacturers and distributors.
Leading FSD’s digital modernization efforts required a thoughtful technology leader who have had experience working with various eCommerce platforms. Mete on-boarded Adeel Murtaza as Head of Technology. Previously, Adeel had served as Head of Web and Digital Solutions for French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, as well as founding shareVentures, his own business consulting agency. Having prior experience building and managing complex webstores, he was already familiar with the capabilities of today’s most popular digital commerce platforms.
From the outset, Adeel envisioned both stores built around an API-based, or “headless” commerce model hosted in the cloud rather a template-based solution. Headless commerce uses automated programming interfaces (APIs) as a flexible communication layer between the front and back end of a website. This eliminates creative constraints and accelerates development of the brand experience across multiple touchpoints through the buyer’s journey.
A headless approach ensured both stores could connect with FSD’s existing business systems such as order management and product inventory. Secondly, a headless approach would provide developers with the flexibility to quickly create a customized front end experience for each proposed webstore. Third, the cloud-based architecture would help FSD log major cost savings in both physical hardware and support staff.
The team implemented a rigorous selection process for their new eCommerce platform. Nearly 200 specific features would need to be available, while also factoring in cost considerations, system development timeframes, and post-deployment maintenance. Upon review, many competing platforms – such as Shopify – fell short on the features required to simultaneously manage both FoodServiceDirect.com and the new franchise site.
A Robust Solution Tailored to B2B Needs
When analyzing Magento Commerce, Adeel and his team knew they had found a complete solution capable of handling their large, diverse product catalogue. Rather than being locked into templates, the open nature of the Magento architecture let them easily customize product detail pages, create brand pages, and more. The platform’s flexibility also meant key portions of the site could be refined as many times as needed, such as the checkout process which was revised four times before being finalized.
As a cloud-based solution, Magento Commerce already came with built-in features for security, activity monitoring, and systems performance. This helped eliminate the need for additional vendors to integrate additional solutions. For example, Magento already has monitoring tools from New Relic and Blackfire.io included as well as CDN and a web application firewall from Fastly to enhance performance and security right out of the box.
As site development accelerated, the headless approach proved its worth. One of the major advantages has been the boost in scalability, allowing Adeel to incorporate additional technical resources at any time. The seamless integration of third-party technologies via Magento Commerce helped further enrich functionality across each webstore, including a search functionality API by Unbxd, product data enrichment solutions from 1Worldsync, customer service software from ZenDesk, and FSD’s own in-house product management software.
A New Platform for B2B Growth
Since launching their new commerce site, FSD has actually over delivered on promised business objectives with minimal disruption to their operations. By installing Google Merchant Center to create and manage ads for FSD using their product catalog data, a significant portion of new customer acquisition can be attributed to Google Ads.
Adeel and his team are actively pursuing new initiatives to further grow the FSD customer base and digital sales.
Using Magento Commerce, FSD delivers a competitive purchasing experience to their B2B customer base while pushing towards even more ambitious business development goals in the year ahead.