Shape Technologies is a leader in advanced manufacturing technology. With over 60 years of experience in the field, the company has expanded to become a major player, known for high-precision cutting and automation solutions.
Operating on a global scale, Shape Technologies serves a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, and consumer goods manufactures. The company's large footprint is marked by tens of thousands of installations worldwide.
In the Shape technologies group there are 9 different brands offering a range of manufacturing technologies.
Shape Technologies faced challenges with their ecommerce platform, impacting their customer experience and overall business outcomes. These challenges were primarily around product discovery and the management of their custom platform.
1. Inefficient Product Discovery
The primary obstacle was an ineffective product discovery experience on their website. Customers frequently struggled to locate specific parts on the website due to:
- Varying Terminology: With a broad array of products, each part was associated with a range of common names. This diversity in naming conventions made it difficult for customers to confidently identify and purchase the correct part. The lack of a unified or intuitive search and filtering UI compounded this issue, leading to customer frustration and decreased sales.
- Impact of Counterfeit Parts: The difficulty and ineffectiveness in product discovery inadvertently aided counterfeit parts makers. These entities exploited the gaps in Shape’s ecommerce store, successfully diverting customers to their own products. This not only resulted in lost revenue for Shape Technologies but also risked damaging their reputation, as customers inadvertently purchased inferior counterfeit parts.
2. Cumbersome Platform Management
Shape Technologies’ custom ecommerce platform presented its own set of challenges:
- Difficult to Manage: The platform was hard to manage and update. This challenge was primarily due to the platform's custom nature, which lacked the flexibility and user-friendliness of more modern ecommerce solutions such as Shopify.
- Hindered Improvement Efforts: The time and effort required to manage the existing platform left little room for Shape Technologies to focus on improving their offerings. This situation created a cycle where the company was constantly dealing with platform management issues instead of innovating and enhancing their product range available online or customer experience.
At Satel Creative, we believe in a collaborative working relationship. Working closely with Shape Technologies, we tailored our solutions to meet their unique needs as their customers are not your average consumers. We focused on enhancing the user experience and optimizing the product discovery process. Here’s how we tackled these challenges:
Enhanced Product Discovery
Understanding the user perspective was crucial. We developed multiple product discovery flows, each catering to different user needs:
- Shop by Machine: For users who know their machine but not the specific part, this option simplifies the discovery process by filtering parts relevant to their specific machine model.
- Shop by Category: This option assists users who are aware of the type of part they need but not the exact item, allowing them to browse through a category of parts.
- Shop by Part Number or Keyword: For those who know exactly what they need, this direct approach enables users to quickly find specific parts.
Improved Product Listing Page (PLP)
- Compatibility Feature: We introduced a compatibility option as the entry point for product discovery, guiding users towards compatible parts for their machines, pump type, cutting head or surface preperation.
- Additional Filters: To further streamline the search process, we added more filters, making it easier for users to narrow down their options. This custom-built feature was essential given the industry-specific filtering requirements.
Product Detail Page (PDP) Enhancements
- Login for Pricing: To prevent automated bots from scraping part prices, users now need to log in to see the price, adding a layer of security and exclusivity.
Backend - Product Information Management (PIM)
Custom Shopify App: We developed a custom app to manage product information more effectively.
ERP Integration: Basic product information is synced from the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
Admin Capabilities: The PIM app allows administrators to add detailed information and publish products seamlessly.
B2B Discount Automation
- We implemented B2B discounting via Shopify Scripts. The site supported pricing tiers and quantity based pricing. While B2B on Shopify functionality has become our preferred method to handle B2B pricing, our work with Shape showcases our ability to push Shopify's limitations and adapt to client needs.
Phased Feature Implementation
Post-resolving the main product discovery challenge, we unlocked the ability to focus on further innovative improvements:
Machine Profiles Saving: Users can save their machine profiles for easier future purchases.
Single Sign-On (SSO): For a more streamlined user experience between Shape’s ecommerce sites and their IOT monitoring software. This allows operators to easily order parts that the monitoring software flags as nearing end of life.
CSV Upload Order Form: Facilitates bulk ordering, enhancing the B2B purchasing process.
Our ongoing partnership with Shape Technologies has resulted in robust and sustainable Shopify stores, all with significant improvements in user experience and operational efficiency.
Longevity and Flexibility
Durable Shopify Store: The Shopify stores we have developed for Shape Technologies has proven its resilience, effectively serving the company for over eight years. This longevity is a testament to the store's modern design and foresight in anticipating future ecommerce trends and requirements.
Shared Theme Across Brands: A significant advantage for Shape Technologies has been the ability to share their Shopify theme across multiple Shape brands. This approach ensures that any new feature developed for one site can be seamlessly integrated into another brand’s site, providing consistency and efficiency in updates and enhancements across the company's digital presence.
Enhanced Product Discovery
The revamped product discovery process has been a game-changer:
- User-Friendly Experience: Customers now enjoy a much more intuitive and efficient product discovery experience. The various search flows — Shop by Machine, Shop by Category, and Shop by Part Number or Keyword — cater to different user needs, significantly reducing the time and effort required to find the right products.
Bot Reduction Strategies with Shopify Plus
An important aspect of our solution was addressing the challenge of counterfeit products:
- Shopify Plus Features: By leveraging Shopify Plus, we have significantly reduced the presence of bots on Shape Technologies’ ecommerce sites. Shopify Plus offers native functionalities specifically designed to prevent bots, including advanced security features that detect and block suspicious activities.
- Login Requirement for Pricing: Implementing a login requirement to view pricing has effectively deterred bots from scraping price information. This strategy not only protects the company’s pricing strategy but also enhances the security and exclusivity of the user experience.