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Do It Best Corp. Customizes 3,800 E-Commerce Storefronts With WebLinc

Launching an updated e-Commerce site can often be a thorough undertaking for a retailer needing a boost to its online presence. When a retail corporation has thousands of individual member-owned locations, streamlining this process while separating the brands can be even more difficult.

Do it Best Corp., a hardware, lumber and building materials cooperative with 3,800 member-owned stores, launched its e-Commerce site on the WebLinc commerce platform. Within the first six months of the new site launch, Do it Best Corp. recorded a 7% increase in conversion rates. The company also saw a 34% improvement in page load times, a 3% increase in average site time and a 5% drop in bounce rates.

Initially, Do it Best developed individual sites for each store so they could maintain a distinct, customer-facing identity. However, there were complications with this model.

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“The membership really desired to have their own URL presence,” said Brandon Wolf, E-Commerce Manager at Do it Best Corp. “They really wanted a web site that was their own, and that’s what they wanted to market. Depending on where you are in the country, you may have a Do it Best location down the street but you just don’t know it. When the individual stores had their own domain name, yet pushed customers to DoitBest.com, it created a jarring experience for the consumer. The customers didn’t know where they were going, and had only trusted the store brand.”

The retail cooperative also realized it had to create an experience optimized for mobile users, according to Wolf. After all, approximately 40% of online traffic to DoitBest.com sites come through mobile devices.

Customizing The E-Commerce Experience

In early 2015, member locations began to re-launch their e-Commerce sites on custom templates that included responsive web design. Individual businesses were able to display their unique brand, logos and color scheme, while maintaining the same functionality and benefits offered on the corporate web site.

“From an e-Commerce perspective, we needed to design a platform that could host and manage store sites for each kind of location, whether it’s a lumberyard, a DIY center or a traditional hardware store,” Wolf said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We weren’t going to be a single monolithic structure similar to AceHardware.com, Lowes.com or HomeDepot.com, and we strategically decided not to take that route. We do have DoitBest.com, and it’s a great web site, but we want to take the WebLinc platform that hosts that and customize it for every one of our member locations to meet their needs.”

Unlike competing hardware retailers, Do it Best encourages individual branding among all member locations and doesn’t require store signs to include the corporate logo. These stores may have a different focus they want to highlight, whether it’s plumbing, electrical supplies or even groceries.

“We offer menus — not mandates — to our membership, and we support their business however they decide to go to market,” Wolf explained. “That really plays into the design and layout of what we’ve done with WebLinc and how we manage those programs for them.”

With WebLinc, Do it Best can still manage the back end of the individual e-Commerce sites, including payment processing and customer service. However, the front end of each site is tailored to the styles and preferences of the individual locations.  The WebLinc platform also is designed to empower branded stores to market to their customers more effectively based on their product focus and geographic location.

“For example, although Boston experienced a lot of snow this winter, people in Nevada never really cared about shovels and salt, and they didn’t want to see advertisements for that,” Wolf stated. “By giving our members the capability to market to their regional locations, we’ve also given them the ability to sell what’s pertinent to their local customer base.”

Beyond the initial corporate e-Commerce re-launch and the individual branding of the member locations, Do it Best also is implementing a third phase to their e-Commerce upgrade designed to target the company’s growing B2B membership base.

Specifically, the deployment will provide businesses with a B2B platform to order products from the site. The platform is designed to streamline inventory, product pricing and add products outside of the Do it Best catalog to enable participating stores to better meet local customer demand, according to Wolf. The deployment is scheduled for early 2016, but no definitive development track has been set yet.

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