Fremont, Calif. - Elma Electronic Inc. now offers online purchasing of standard products, which includes all catalog items from the enclosure and components product lines for customers in the Americas. In addition to the 16,000 part numbers already available to buy online, the company plans to add the remaining three product lines – backplanes, systems and cabinets – to the ecommerce platform in the next six months. Elma plans to expand the integration into Europe, starting in the summer.
Elma also is working on a product configurator so customers can make some modifications online and directly order custom products. “We have a configurator for one of the product lines, which is a separate tool for engineers. It’s been in place for three years for enclosures and panels, and our goal is to have it integrated into the ecommerce platform by the end of the year,” said Boris Micha, senior director product management & marketing at Elma Electronic.
Elma developed the e-commerce platform to deliver a better B2B ordering experience and to make it easier for customers to purchase many of its standard products. The key drivers for the integration of an ecommerce platform were changing buying patterns and the need for automation, according to Micha.
“It’s not so much that people are buying more standard items. Customization is still very strong in our industry. It’s more about the customer experience of shopping online, which is changing,” said Micha. “The second aspect is that automation is becoming very critical for us so that our sales force can take care of complex programs and key opportunities to grow the business. It gives them more time to engage with our customers and to improve our services.”
“Automation is very critical to us to remain competitive in this industry,” Micha said. “We can streamline our processes and put our resources where it makes sense."
The new system gives existing customers easier access to product order information and pricing, while facilitating the registration process for new customers. Registered users can access upfront pricing with customer and unit specific price breaks, quick ordering and PO capabilities, said the company.
Other functionality includes A Wish List, where buyers can save a list to be purchased for a future buy, such as when quotes are initially needed before an order can be placed, and a Quick Order Pad tool, primarily for repeat orders, where buyers can get the latest pricing and lead times, and build a bill of materials and add it to the cart or wish list, Micha said. “Most start with a shopping list and then go back to the engineers with the buyer confirming the order.”
The system can handle custom product ordering for repeat purchases after Elma uploads the custom part number with the different price breaks associated it. “It’s very flexible and can handle special pricing for customers,” said Micha.
In order to accommodate the new ecommerce platform, the website also needed some improvements, which Elma has worked on over the past two years. “The buying process needed to be automated. We started to have more customers asking for it so they could get pricing very quickly, check for lead times, and also get better information online. It was really a long process to improve our website.”
“We had to do a lot of work to rearrange the product pages to present our products so customers could buy online without too much direction,” he added.
The key to the website improvement was adding technical information on the product pages and making navigation easier, according to Micha. “This includes adding integrated drawings and other technical information directly on the product page so it’s a much better customer experience so they don’t have to go back and forth and download documents and try to find the right information. They can do all of that now on the same page.”
Micha reports that web traffic has increased by 50 percent over a three-month period, and the time visitors spend at the site has doubled. In addition, the majority of registrations is coming from new customers with many of them ordering samples to see what the enclosure looks like before requesting customization.
Elma will continue to provide customer support and product ordering via its existing sales channels for standard products as well as custom designs.