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Pattersons is a family-run business specialising in the supply of catering, bar, cleaning, janitorial and essential accommodation equipment. With over 125 years trading history, Pattersons is valued throughout the UK trade, and by individual consumers, for its breadth of product choice and high levels of customer care.

The business has relied increasingly on its online presence at www.pattersons.co.uk to drive e-commerce revenues, and provide customers across the country with rapid access to thousands of different products. By working with Helastel, Pattersons has been able to evolve this e-commerce offering in line with changing user preferences and growing scale, and to meet its own specific objective for greater revenues from business customers.

The Situation

Pattersons’ legacy e-commerce site was affecting the future development of its business due to several factors. First and foremost, the site’s catalogue of 8,000 product lines did not encompass the full 12,000-line (and growing) range of the Pattersons offering. Of broader concern was the business’ limited confidence in its ability to develop and implement new features to support increased customer loyalty and conversions.

The requirement was therefore to revolutionise Pattersons’ online offering, and improve the overall user experience.

The Opportunity

Pattersons’ vision was to improve the quality and effectiveness of its online offering, to scale its business and increase profits. The business wanted to align its excellence in service and excellence in brand with how it was represented online.

“Good software is essential,” says Robert Ireland, Managing Director at Pattersons. “Previously we had a piece of software that was continually letting us down and that was a major factor in us deciding to change it.”

So Helastel got straight to work, developing the following comprehensive project plan designed to meet the expectations of users as well as Pattersons’ business objectives:

  • Perform a full audit of existing infrastructure and put in place a robust platform to host and maintain a new e-commerce site.
  • Conduct full integration between e-commerce operations and Pattersons’ legacy ERP and stock control systems. This would apply to five new customer-facing microsites as well as the main Pattersons site, as part of the company’s digital growth strategy. A key challenge was enabling the subtle nuances of Pattersons’ dynamic customer-specific pricing structure to operate seamlessly across web assets, despite its significant underlying complexity.
  • Research and analyse what return customers needed the most. Significantly improve the conversion rates and make the site more enticing for customers to come back and buy.
  • Improve the SEO rankings and restructure the site in order to attract more organic traffic from search engines.
  • Make improvements to the online store to make it effortless to use with a simple and clear user interface.
  • Optimise the online store to make it sell more effectively and find innovative ways of making the infrastructure stable and highly scalable.

The Outcome

Pattersons has achieved the means to address new markets and enjoy large scale, high volume online retail success. Helastel successfully delivered a robust e-commerce platform that takes centre stage in the catering and cleaning supplies market and enables Pattersons to maintain its position as a market leader in the sector for the foreseeable future. To accomplish this, a series of updates have been orchestrated which included infrastructure changes as well as main website redevelopment.

Following detailed research and in-depth analysis of users, Pattersons has successfully increased sales to its business customers by introducing targeted new features.

Helastel found that business customers were keen for their staff to take advantage of online ordering, but wanted the facility to place limits on how much they spent to prevent excessive quantities from being ordered. With that feature implemented, customers now feel more confident in their staff using the website and this has ultimately increased sales for Pattersons.

“Helastel have helped us take our existing website and develop it in line with both our own requirements, and customer requirements, and taken it to a new level in the way it works and its ease of use,” added Robert.

The Future

Today, the Pattersons site is steadily growing in sales with excellent conversion rates from thousands of customers generating around 640,000 product requests every day. The transition from the old to the new platform incurred no downtime, and feedback from customers has been positive.

Pattersons is enjoying an outstanding return on investment thanks to a project delivered on time, on spec and on budget, and with plenty of scope to contend with larger customer volumes in the future. Plans are underway to implement wide-ranging improvements to the principal Pattersons web assets moving forward.

According to Robert, the enduring benefits are as much about the stability of the platform as its ability to transform sales performance: “Now, two years on, I have much less stress than I ever had, despite the fact we’ve had exponential growth,” he concludes.
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