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With resilience, teamwork, and a timely pivot, a complex business tackles B2B and B2C in short order

Big Erics has been an Atlantic Canadian success story for more than 75 years. Offering professional end-to-end service-based solutions, they provide food services equipment, cleaning and sanitation solutions, and personalized consultation, planning and design. Their customers range from restaurants to hotels and home chefs, too. With warehouses in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, they have the largest sales team in the market in Atlantic Canada.

After years of internal discussions, they were ready to bring their business online, and we eagerly hopped on board to make it happen. Big Erics’ large, complex catalogue and varying business rules made this a challenging project to undertake, but with communication, teamwork, and creativity, we gave them a great site and a result we are all proud of.

Services

  • Design
  • Development
  • Ecommerce
  • Ecommerce Action Plan

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Screenshot of homepage with featured image

Challenge accepted

Our client needed a new mega-site to sell their products online to two very different audiences -- first their B2B and then their B2C, each with their own set of business rules -- as well as to integrate smoothly with their existing ERP, SAP Business One.

A user-friendly design for a complex catalog

Big Erics offers a very wide range of products and services, from commercial equipment to products for the home chef, to custom kitchen design and knife sharpening services. Their site would need to show and tell their customers all about that and make it easy to find what they need.

An integrated system for ordering, shipping and inventory

The Big Erics team offers varying B2B and B2C pricing and shipping options. To serve all of their commercial and retail clients properly, they required accounts and quick-order options for their B2B customers. They also needed automated shipping from the nearest warehouse to the customer, and integrated inventory management that sends notifications for orders where some items may have to be shipped from a more distant warehouse.

Simple and sustainable content management

The Big Erics business is still growing, with new products being added frequently. Their staff needed to be able to add and update items and product descriptions themselves as needed, as well as to promote their products, services and news on a blog.

Screenshot of a collection page with knives

A design for success

The Able Sense team started their Ecommerce Action Plan process with an in-person information architecture workshop. Big Erics’ representatives in sales, management and the warehouse participated so we could discover how their customers find products by categories.

This informed the site’s beautiful and smart design.

Customers can easily navigate to what they need with well-organized dropdown menus.

We built flexibility into Big Erics’ new homepage, so their staff can promote brands and collections in a hero and CTA sections, and use additional sections to highlight collections, individual products and blog posts.

Customers can refine their search by brand; additional filters are manageable by the Big Erics ecommerce team.

We created product detail pages with room for the product description and specs as well as space for additional information; customers can find relevant documents and do more research before they buy. We also included warehouse inventory markers to give customers a better idea of delivery times.

Screenshots of various mobile displays

Developing a seamless ERP integration

Our developers worked with SAP consultants Illumiti to ensure communication between their Shopify store and SAP Business One.

This connection means that customers can see Big Erics’ product inventory by the available unit of measure (UTM), kept up-to-date within minutes and by location. It also means Big Erics can see Shopify order and customer details in their SAP, which helps to keep them organized and informed.

Screenshots of Big Erics' products detail pages on desktop and mobile

Result!

Big Erics launched their B2B demo store successfully in March 2020; their existing commercial customers were able to request an online account setup with their own account numbers for business as usual!

And then…

Big Erics had initially planned a much later B2C launch. However, in response to the COVID-19 situation, they made a quick pivot to launch their B2C online operations in April 2020 so more of their customers could continue to access their products. The immediate response has been very positive: with zero marketing, customers have already begun finding, researching and purchasing products from BigErics.com.

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