About General Distributing
General Distributing Company, in Montana, is a 3rd generation family-owned business dedicated to investing in, inspiring, and empowering people so that together we succeed and grow. They have been serving their customers and local communities since 1948.
General Distributing has an established group of industry experts that possess a valuable combination of personalized service, a solution oriented mindset and industry experience to make sure that their customers get the right solution for their application.
Understanding the Business Needs
Glenn Bliss, President of General Distributing Company, recognized the importance of adding an eCommerce channel to his traditional welding and gas distribution business, but he also knew that he needed help.
In 2019, he reached out to the co-owner of his web design firm, 406 Marketing and Design, Amy Dardis. Amy and her husband Josh helped Glenn and his team think through SEO and digital marketing strategies in the past, so naturally Amy was a great resource to help Glenn and General Distributing get started.
I helped Glenn put together a job description for an eCommerce marketing director who could lead this initiative, but it was hard finding the right person. At one point, I said, "How about me, Glenn? Why don't you just interview me?"
Glenn agreed, and soon after, Amy joined the team at General Distributing Co. as Director of Marketing and Business Development.
Amy started by researching various B2B eCommerce platforms and service providers, eventually stumbling upon Distributor Data Solutions (DDS) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Through the conversations with DDS, Amy discovered ES Tech Group and EvolutionX B2B eCommerce.
Finding the Right eCommerce Partner
Amy had found the right content and eCommerce service provider in DDS and ES Tech Group, but there was still one very important hurdle to overcome. How could they integrate everything with their ERP software so they could manage hundreds of customer accounts from one platform with real-time updates for inventory and account details?
Their current customer base was spending a lot of time researching and even purchasing from competitor's websites. General Distributing realized they needed good content, a better, faster shopping experience, and it all needed to align with the way they ran the business offline.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
General Distributing wasn't alone. Other welding and gas distributors using TIMS had the same goal; to get online with an integrated world-class eCommerce solution. A group of TIMS customers got together and asked their ERP software provider to partner with one eCommerce provider to offer a fully integrated solution.
Many platforms were considered, but in the end, it was EvolutionX winning out as the preferred solution.
EvolutionX was chosen because of their experience in industrial distribution, their ability to work well with others, and their willingness to lead the project.
This collaborative approach is rare, and it's exactly what was required to ensure that the TIMS distributors were successful online.
The Importance of a Project Champion
We think every distributor needs a dedicated project champion to ensure the success of their eCommerce website initiative. General Distributing chose Amy Dardis to fill that role. Her experience with website design and digital marketing was ideal because she could easily communicate with technical contacts at both ES Tech Group and other partners.
Regardless of their background, this person needs to be 100% committed to this project, and they need to have the skills to facilitate the right conversations.
She understood that her primary role was to bring the right people together to solve the problems necessary to get the project off the ground.
As a distributor, if you are looking to add someone to your team, try to find skill sets that you do not currently have.
Putting together a diverse team that includes experts in product knowledge, ERP software, sales, and marketing is a recipe for success.
Also, it doesn't hurt to have an Amy on your team! Sorry, she can't be cloned. We already looked into it. The technology just isn't there yet.
Customer Adoption and Next Steps
Now that the website is live, the "real work begins". Amy knew how important it was to "nail it and scale it", so she started off slow. General Distributing resisted the temptation to send all their customers a link to login and begin shopping, and instead focused on a hyper-localized adoption strategy that would educate their customer base while simultaneously engaging their sales reps.
We really wanted to do this well, so we put together a very slow, but very personalized roll-out experience.
Amy was passionate about making sure that not only their customers, but the sales team understood the value of the website platform and knew how to communicate that value to their larger customer base.
At ES Tech Group, we think this is a superb strategy for customer adoption. We cannot wait to see that results that Amy and her team achieve in the coming months and years. We look forward to another interview with Amy in the future to check-in on the success of her new EvolutionX website. Thank you Amy and General Distributing!
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