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How steel wholesaler Damstahl is building an ecommerce future

Assisting the customer in finding the right product is key to everything we do.

Anders Jensen

Manager of digital and marketing operations @ Damstahl
Use case

B2B Ecommerce


Skanderborg, Midtjylland, Denmark

Customer since

since 2021

Feature usage

Search, Dynamic Synonyms, Analytics, Rules, Query Suggestion

Key results
  • Decreased maintenance costs compared to Elastic

  • Easy fine-tuning, without code deployment needed

  • Improved ranking formula

Key numbers
  • 15 million users

  • Documents shared from more than 2000 universities

  • 20%+ increase in conversion rate

The challenges

  • 1.

    Help user finding the right fittings or other steel products

The solution

  • 1.

    Design a platform to be customized and scalable

  • 2.

    Compose a modular collection of technology applications from multiple vendors

The result

  • 1.

    Sales reps enabled to process orders 60% faster

When it comes to operating dairy industry equipment, the right stainless steel fittings can make all the difference in successful operations.

But finding the right fittings or other steel products a dairy operation needs quickly can be a slow process, especially when a buyer needs to check among hundreds or thousands of items. 

At Skanderborg, Denmark-based stainless steel wholesaler Damstahl A/S, a new ecommerce site is expediting the purchasing process for buyers in the dairy industry and other sectors including fruit processing, automotive, oil-and-gas and pulp. 

“When you need to navigate among our more than 18,000 items available online, we need to find the right ones right away for you.” “Damstahl’s ecommerce platform, he adds, was built on the premise that “making orders online should be easier than emailing or calling us.” Anders Jensen, Manager of digital and marketing operations, Damstal

Making ecommerce easier than email or phone calls

Damstahl’s ecommerce transaction site, launched in early 2021, is already producing positive results in the initial rollout to Scandinavia and three other international markets; the site eventually will operate on a single platform with local-language versions for all Damstahl’s nine international markets. 

Since the initial launch, Damstahl says it has increased both gross profit and market share. Behind those increases in business performance metrics is a higher level of customer experience on an ecommerce technology platform that also serves as a helpful tool for Damstahl’s sales reps to better understand customer interests. 

And good thing, because the steel industry is more competitive than ever in the age of digital commerce, Jensen says. “We have hyper competition today,” Jensen says. In the past, he adds, Damstahl wasn’t concerned about competitors knocking on its customers’ doors. “In the old days, no one came knocking; now, everyone comes knocking in our industry.” 

He attributes that change to the spread of digital commerce among some European steel suppliers, which makes it easier for them to connect with prospects and accept orders. 

But with Damstahl’s new ecommerce platform designed to be customized and scalable as needed, the wholesaler is primed to take on the competition, he adds. “We’ve grabbed market share and taken some back from competitors that were doing digital well,” Jensen says.

Grabbing market share from digital rivals

Damstahl still plans to expand and improve its digital commerce presence, a process that Jensen and colleague Søren Talbo Dahl, Damstahl’s ecommerce and digital specialist, figure will go smoothly. That is because Damstahl has deployed “composable” digital technology designed to be more easily expanded or customized, they say. 

Damstahl and its digital agency and systems integrator, Slize Digital ApS, worked with a headless commerce technology strategy to provide the flexibility needed to more easily modify software applications if necessary to meet changes in market demand. “We wanted to be able to swap or add services as we see fit,” says Slize founder and CEO Brian Fink.

Damsthal image 1

The new Damstahl bespoke ecommerce platform runs on Slize Digital Architecture, which Slize describes as “composable and modular” and designed to let Damstahl “integrate, upgrade or replace components” without the extensive work on software code often required on other platforms. With the platform designed as composable and modular, Damstahl was able to compose a modular collection of technology applications from multiple vendors: Dynamics 365 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software from Microsoft, Product Information Management (PIM) software from Perfion, a Content Management System from Umbraco, a site search engine from Algolia and marketing software from ActiveCampaign. 

The ecommerce engine was built in-house and runs on Microsoft’s .Net technology; Damstahl’s customer-facing front end is built with the JavaScript framework Reach.js. 

Damstahl manages data flow among these applications through the Slize API Gateway, which the wholesaler also uses to feed content to its customer-facing website and mobile app. The application integration in the modular technology arrangement brings several advantages to Damstahl as it continues to improve the online customer purchasing experience. For example, Damstahl had become accustomed to working with a standard site search engine that it could not easily modify on a prior website to help customers stuck in difficult product searches. But the Damstahl digital team realized that to provide a level of customer experience that would attract more online customer activity and grow sales, its new website would need to deploy a more useful site search engine that could accommodate the specific needs of stainless steel buyers.

“With Algolia, we have more flexibility,” Dahl says. That’s critical, he adds, in an industry where “many customers don’t understand item numbers,” which can make it difficult to search for the specific products they need. “We give customers the ability through Algolia to add their own item number,” for which Damstahl sets and arranges the necessary integration with its ERP and PIM software systems, Dahl adds. The Algolia site search and navigation technology also lets Damstahl highlight primary product attributes needed by customers, such as the diameter, radius or thickness of steel products. And as customers search among main product categories, they can quickly browse among subcategories and further into particular product listings. 

In addition, as Damstahl learns from website clickstream data how search queries result in online purchases, it will put more personalization into search results by showing products a searching customer is most likely to buy. “We don’t need a big outside IT department; it’s pretty easy to work with,” Dahl says. 

Damstahl has also made other technology adjustments to meet customers’ needs. When some customers said they liked the wholesaler’s webstore but preferred the option to place orders directly from their own ERP system, Damstahl set up a “punchout” connection from customer ERPs to its ecommerce site. “They send a file to our webshop; we put their order into the webshop basket,” Jensen says.

Targeting more improvements for customers

So far, Damstahl has been racking up increased performance metrics and figures it still has more improvements to come. In addition to increased market share and gross profits, it notes that gross profits are higher for web orders than traditional offline orders. And the online system enables sales reps to process orders 60% faster than when they enter orders into Damstahl’s ERP. 

Going forward, Damstahl is also looking at other ways to help its customers. It may provide them access to its API Gateway to let them directly view available inventory and pricing, even 3D drawings of products. And to bring more value to sales reps, it can build a “one-stop-shop” to access an online dashboard displaying customer activity and product data from multiple software systems including ERP, CRM and business intelligence, making it easier and faster for reps to help customers. “The way I see it,” Jensen says. “The more we offer to customers, and the easier our site is to use, the more our customers will do business with us.”

Damstahl image 2

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