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Success Story

The company

HENKA is a medium-sized company specializing in technical consulting and the sale of tools and machine tools, primarily for machining. HENKA also designs and supplies complete factory equipment. As a full-range supplier, the product range also includes industrial safety equipment and power tools. In high-quality training courses, HENKA takes care of the further training of customers’ employees.

Firmenzentrale von Henka in Stollberg im Erzegebirge

eCube and HENKA for the MACH Awards

Together with our customer HENKA we had the opportunity to apply for the MACH Awards and present our case.

The challenge

The company was looking for a solution that would strengthen online sales and help customers make purchases using the latest store technology.

The solution

On the basis of the commercetools platform, a modern B2B webshop was created that integrates a wide range of manufacturers and is constantly being expanded, taking customer requirements into account.

The result

The entire range of precision tools for the machining industry is presented in the powerful procurement tool. Excellently prepared product data allows a targeted drill-down selection from around 110,000 articles.


Ambitious e-commerce strategy

To support its sales activities, which are essentially based on printed catalogs and sales representatives, HENKA decided at the time to use a widely used industry solution. Based on this solution, the company operates a B2B online store where business customers can order the desired items directly from HENKA.

Displaying a high level of expertise digitally

For these reasons, the decision was made in summer 2016 to completely relaunch with a modern B2B webshop. In terms of content, HENKA would like to establish its existing positioning as a “problem solver”, absolute expert in its own market segment and partner of the customer on the Internet as well. The primary objective of the web store is to be an efficient tool for the customer to procure highly specialized tools and to communicate HENKA’s high level of expertise in this area. At the same time, the customer is to be provided with a store that represents the highest level within the industry in all functionalities.
Together with the eCommerce specialists from eCube in Munich, the new web store was implemented on the basis of the cloud-based platform from commercetools. HENKA chose this solution mainly because of its customizability and automatic scalability.
commercetools and eCube suggested a strongly incremental approach to HENKA right from the start. Thus, in the first implementation stage, the focus should clearly be on the goals that, from HENKA’s point of view, allow the greatest step forward. In this case, this initially meant converting existing customers into store users and tapping into new customer groups through a publicly “visible” and findable store. The next steps were then defined on the basis of the experience gained.
From a technical perspective, the goal of the first stage was to create a flexible and expandable platform as a solid foundation for this future development.

Integration of third-party systems

As part of the project, the new web store had to be connected to existing solutions. Via the API of the commercetools platform, the existing ERP system (e.g. for customer master data, prices and availability), the headless CMS contentful and various payment systems were integrated.

Product data

A central challenge in the project is the homogenization of product data originating from different sources. In HENKA’s previous store, the product range was structured on the top hierarchical level according to catalogs. This was to be replaced by a user-friendly structure according to product categories. The difficulty now was to unify the considerably different category and attribute systems of the catalogs in such a way that the user could be offered a homogeneous view of the products as well as a powerful facet search. eCube worked with the customer to develop a rule-based approach for this that was both pragmatic and powerful, allowing HENKA’s tool experts to transform the product data of the 110,000 articles into a uniform form with reasonable effort.

Mobile access

When designing the web store front end, the implementing partner eCube paid particular attention to creating a contemporary and user-friendly interface. This is responsively designed and can therefore also be used comfortably on mobile devices.

Procedure and result

The project was implemented by a small architecture and development team from eCube. On the customer side, there is one responsible contact person for each of the topics frontend, processes and product data. Thanks to a consistent “one-team philosophy” based on mutual trust and the will to create added value together, HENKA now has a modern B2B webshop that presents its portfolio in the best possible way. The development follows an extremely lean, Kanban-based process with flexible iterations.
Since the homogenization of product data is one of the critical success factors of the project, HENKA and eCube decided to tackle this issue first. Around the same time, they began to adapt the frontend to the customer’s wishes. The Sunrise demo store and the Sunrise framework from commercetools provided an excellent basis for this. The early integration of the product data, combined with a lean and efficient continuous delivery pipeline, has the priceless advantage that all project participants can review the progress at any time using the real product data. Thus, from a very early stage of the project, the daily updated development status including the approx. 110,000 SKUs is already available to the customer for feedback and incremental adjustments. The service-based approach of commercetools simplifies such an agile development process enormously.
In the fall of 2017, a flowing go-live process started with an increasing number of selected pilot customers. The system was then officially launched at the beginning of January 2018. With the new store, customers now have access to a tool that is unique in the industry. This allows both experts and less experienced users to independently find suitable tools for their individual machining task. This is made possible by the technology-guided facet search, which is based on the excellently prepared product data. Additional added value is offered to the user by the uncomplicated availability of tool data in 2D and 3D formats (STEP and DXF). Further features and improvements are currently being worked on. The incremental approach means that users’ wishes and experiences can be effectively taken into account. Among other things, the addition of further manufacturers or brands to the range is planned for this year. Thanks to largely automated continuous delivery, these updates can be rolled out at any time with any frequency and without downtime.

About commercetools

Commercetools is a worldwide leading software company and stands for the platform of the same name
for modern B2C and B2B trade. commercetools offers its customers flexible development modules and a true cloud platform. This enables companies to realize innovative business models and offer their customers comprehensive and inspiring shopping experiences across all touchpoints. International brands and Fortune2000 companies from a wide range of industries – from automotive to telecommunications and retail to fashion – use the commercetools platform.

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