Normet's B2B eCommerce customer story
Business Blog

commercetools digs Normet out of the "no B2B eCommerce" hole

D
Diya Bag
February 2023

How does a B2B company with no online presence end up with the most modern eCommerce tech stack? And in only four-and-a-half months? It may sound unbelievable that Normet could go from zero to 100 so quickly, but, as you’ll see here, when businesses partner with commercetools, anything is possible.

Normet's B2B eCommerce customer story

“How deep underground can we take our eCommerce?” This question was posed by Mathias Nyman, Sr. Manager, Digital Customer Excellence at Normet, a 60-year-old B2B mining and tunneling product manufacturer and service provider. That's because many of Normet's customers are engineers, physically in underground mines, who are not always in front of desktop computers. This is why it was critical for Normet to develop an experience that could meet their niche customers' specific needs. And they needed to find a commerce partner that could match the depth of such a challenge.

Unearthing why Normet needed eCommerce

Like many B2Bs, Normet didn’t offer an online sales channel for its products and services for underground projects, including providing complex machinery, spare parts, rental equipment, equipment refurbishment, as well as performance and field services. But the company recognized that this gap in the customer purchasing experience could not last. Normat had relationships with customers that went back decades, and though many of these customers were happy to place orders to sales reps over the phone and email, a younger, more tech-savvy generation of B2B shoppers found these interactions time-consuming and inefficient.

People working in the mining industry are still normal people. In their personal life, they use eCommerce. They are used to easy processes. And when they were making B2B purchases from us, they were experiencing a cumbersome and complex buying journey. So, many of our customers were asking if we could provide more modern, simpler ways to make those purchases.
Pekka Jaarinen

Director of Digital Services, Normet

Providing an easier buying experience with eCommerce would not only benefit customers, but also the employees at Normet. Every phone call and email with product and pricing questions required someone to be there, looking up the information and spending time trying to answer immediately, consuming a lot of resources. That’s why digitizing that product information to be automatically available for B2B customers would solve many operational and efficiency issues straightaway.  

The bedrock of Normet’s B2B eCommerce architecture: MACH™

The newly formed digital team at Normet knew they wanted an eCommerce solution that was flexible, easily customizable and future-proof. And the only technology that could fit those requirements is MACH-based architecture. The term MACH, an acronym for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless, was first coined by commercetools, the preeminent pioneers of the technology. Thus, it was only natural that Normet chose commercetools as its commerce vendor.

From a purely technological or features perspective, it was clear commercetools is the leader. commercetools has new, up-and-coming technology that we believe will deliver the best solution for us.
Pekka Jaarinen

Director of Digital Services, Normet

With commercetools’ MACH infrastructure under the hood of Normet’s eCommerce engine, Normet can customize its tech stack with best-of-breed components whenever needed, as each part is pluggable, scalable and replaceable. That way, the entire eCommerce system can continuously be improved through agile development to meet evolving business needs. And if one component no longer works, the company can simply swap it out without downtime to the rest of the system, meaning Normet will never have to replatform again.   

You need to have the agility to adapt to your changing requirements and needs. I believe that the MACH approach suits that quite well. If we are thinking about 2… 3… 4 years into the future, we need to be prepared in case something changes, for example, in customer behavior or connecting to IoT. If we would have built the system with a traditional monolith eCommerce system, we would have lost that agility for the future. This is why we chose composable architecture.
Pekka Jaarinen

Director of Digital Services, Normet

Another reason that commercetools emerged as the winner for Normet is a strong partner ecosystem, including a healthy inventory of partners in the Nordic region, which is quite convenient for Normet due to its operational headquarters in Finland. As Pekka put it, "One of the main reasons why we never explored other MACH competitors is that commercetools has a better partner network."

The light at the end of the tunnel

In addition to commercetools being a generally easy-to-implement backend solution, a big part of the success of Normet’s launch was due to system integrator Columbus Global.

Columbus Global is Normet’s guiding and implementing partner for the digital commerce solution for spare parts — based on commercetools. In addition, Columbus Global is helping Normet to create a coherent and relevant experience across mobile, web and eCommerce — and the journey has just begun.
Robin Slotts

Partner Manager, Columbus Global

According to Robin, the implementation from the first line of code to full production deployment was four-and-a-half months, and not only did Columbus Global stay within the requested budget, but they were also able to deliver two weeks earlier than planned. The beauty of such a fast implementation is that the overwhelmingly positive results came in just as fast. 

One of the biggest pain points for Normet prior to completing its online store was the massive amount of products in its catalog — over 65,000 highly specialized spare parts. Every part, along with its pricing and availability, was impossible for customers to easily view in the physical world. But transporting the catalog into the digital realm means that B2B buyers can now see everything on offer and all the related information — including products they didn’t even know existed — increasing sales, as well as adding upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

What’s in Normet’s digital future? A lot of things. At the top of the list is automating operations and processes for both customers and internally.

Automation is a big topic whether we are talking about autonomous operations or automating processes, from purchasing to delivery. Commerce is a big part of that, as is utilizing the best free tools on a digital commerce base to automate the processes toward our customers, as well as internally. But, of course, it's all about user experience and delivering the best possible experience for our end customers. We need to put the customer first — and that typically leads to win-win on both sides of the table.
Pekka Jaarinen

Director of Digital Services, Normet

The digital team is also actively collecting customer feedback to develop new features iteratively. But the best part for the team is knowing that everything they need to accomplish to create a solution that is perfectly tailored to their customers’ needs is completely within reach, thanks to the flexibility of commercetools. 

Inspired by Normet's customer story? Then read our ultimate guide on how your B2B's eCommerce can thrive this year with our white paper Pivotal Trends and Predictions in B2B Digital Commerce in 2023.

D
Diya Bag
February 2023

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