By switching from an open source search to FACT-Finder technology, the Berner Group is accelerating the online purchasing process and creating synergy in international shop management.

The Berner Group is the central B2B trading partner for all materials in the construction, building maintenance, and mobility sectors and a leading force of industry 4.0 solutions. Although the core business remains direct sales across 25 countries, the Berner Group has also invested in its digital distribution channels.

The results are more than 15 online shops offered in multiple languages and a digital range of 230,000 items. It’s therefore crucial that Berner Group customers are able to procure the right products at lightning speed, and for group-wide specifications to be automatically rolled out to online shops across all countries. The Berner Group has been able to solve these and other B2B challenges by switching from an open source search to FACT-Finder.

The Berner Group is the central B2B trading partner for all materials in the construction, mobility and industrial sectors

“The quality of search is a reflection of our brand.”

The recent evolution and growth of B2B e-commerce are grabbing the attention of buyers, sellers, and investors all over the world. For 2019 alone, the global B2B e-commerce market is valued at a whopping $12.2 trillion USD and is over 6 times that of the B2C market – indicating that more and more traders are using digital sales channels. According to a study by ibi research, for 85% of customers, the search is the most important function in the purchase process. Katja Sallie, an E-Commerce Product Owner at Berner Group, confirms that this is true in reality.

She says, “In our online shops, the vast majority of sessions start with a search. And this is exactly where our main problem used to be. Before we started working with FACT-Finder, shop visitors often found irrelevant products or no products at all. This was not only unfavorable for our conversion rate, but also for our image – after all, the main entry point for us is the search.“

Directly to the right products, despite technical terms

Procuring the right materials, tools, or accessories in large assortments can be a test of patience in many B2B shops, and not only because of complicated product descriptions – which buyers either often misspell or don‘t even look for. Sallie explains how Berner Group‘s e-commerce team solves this challenge. “In terms of the quality of search results, we have taken a big step forward since the introduction of FACT-Finder. Our analyses in the German and French-speaking shops show, for example, that significantly fewer zero results pages appear. On the one hand, this was possible because FACT-Finder improved our online shops with its error tolerance and self-learning capabilities, and on the other because we now have many tools to control the search results. Customers often use different search terms to find the same product. To ensure that the right product appears even if a colloquial term is used to search for it, we create synonym entries. This is a practical way for us to optimize the results without having to change anything in the product data.”

More orders in less time

If there is one success factor that is particularly decisive in B2B e-commerce, it’s speed. Buyers expect to find the right products as quickly as possible. This isn’t only because they are used to the B2C convenience from their personal lives, but also because they want to make the most of their working time. “Most of our customers already know how many of each item they intend to order,” explains Sallie. “With FACT-Finder, we are able to support this customer group in various ways. For example, the software allows search by product IDs and complex multi-terms such as ‘zinc-coated lock washer’. Product ID searches are particularly popular with our buyers. We have also configured the suggest function so that an add-to-shopping-cart is displayed for each product suggestion, which makes the procurement process even easier.”

The suggest function on Berner’s online shops helps buyers conveniently add items their shopping cart and quickly proceed to their next search request.

Guided selling for non-expert customers

“The suggest-function is also important for buyers who don’t know their way around or want to familiarise themselves with the products before purchasing,” continues Sallie. “FACT-Finder gives us the option of displaying blog articles and other content directly in the suggestions menu. This helps shoppers become aware of relevant content and current campaigns right at the beginning of their search.” Berner also plans to make greater use of FACT-Finder Guided Selling campaigns in the future. This is a software-supported consulting function that displays relevant products through interaction with the shop visitor. FACT-Finder asks the buyer product-related questions; every time an answer is selected the search results are narrowed and then followed by another question until the selection is precisely filtered down. Sallie describes future plans, “I see a lot of potentials, especially with our matrix products – articles such as screws, which are available in multiple variants. For customers who don’t know exactly which article specification is the right one, a digital shopping assistant can certainly increase the conversion rate.”

Get the Guide to Ecommerce Domination in B2B

Efficient shop control with decentralized e-commerce structure

As an internationally active B2B trading partner, the Berner Group maintains local e-commerce teams in various national subsidiaries. For this reason, technologies that are used internationally have to meet very special requirements – and here is where the previously used open-source search reached its limits. “It is extremely important for us to be able to roll out group-wide requirements from a central location. Alongside that, however, our local e-commerce managers must be able to implement fine adjustments such as synonyms, ranking rules, or product promotions themselves. With FACT-Finder‘s multi-channel configuration, we have a feature that is really worth its weight in gold. Once a particular optimization or campaign has been successfully tested in the German shop, we can roll it out directly to all channels – without having to convert each of our 20 country shops individually. That is, of course, an enormous relief,“ says Sallie.

Thanks to the multi-level rights system, Berner can quickly roll-out corporate guidelines across international channels with just one click. If needed, local e-commerce managers can then make fine adjustments to their shop.

Identify revenue potential through consulting

The Berner Group Management Team plans to continue the enhancement of the customer journey in their international shops. However, the team doesn’t have to do it alone – they are supported by FACT-Finder experts. FACT-Finder Consultants provide personalized advice on how to align the modules to your business objectives. In our expert training sessions, we teach retailers how to work successfully and efficiently with FACT-Finder. Sallie tells of her personal experience, “I am very pleased with the personal support – communication and reaction times are great. There is a personal contact at FACT-Finder for any questions that we have. In addition to the Service Desk, which supports us with technical questions, we also use the consulting program on an hourly quota basis. This allows us to communicate regularly with Mr. Wagner, our consultant – with a particular focus on topics such as product data optimization, recommendations, and personalization.”

See FACT-Finder in action

Whether you are an online pure player or an omnichannel retailer, operating nationally or internationally, FACT-Finder adapts to any B2B or B2C business strategy. With FACT-Finder, you not only improve search results but also create the prerequisite for your online shop to scale with your e-commerce growth. No matter how many languages, sales channels, or products, FACT-Finder excels and provides the most relevant search results every time. Better yet, it doesn’t require any extra effort on your part – no need to tie up your valuable resources.

Visit our B2B E-Commerce page to learn more about how FACT-Finder is the all-in-one solution for your business. Check out our blog to learn how FACT-Finder was awarded as the ‘Supreme Software’ for its excellence in the B2B industry. As a leading SaaS provider, we offer free demo plans that allow users to test-drive our software features at no cost and make well-informed decisions. The demos give you the chance to understand how the software can help to boost your company’s efficiency and profitability. See FACT-Finder in action by requesting a free demo: