Setting a benchmark for B2B commerce.
Al Ghandi brings traditional purchase processes for electrical and automation parts and equipment into the digital age with Adobe Commerce.
Digitally recreate time-honoured trading and business practices
Apply continuous improvement to maximise impact
Help customers under pressure to complete work faster
Doubled customer base from 1,600 to 3,200 in one year
Shifted the behaviour of 95% of customers who now place orders via desktop or mobile devices
Increased operational efficiency by reducing average order times by 10 days
Becoming a supplier of choice
The UAE offers residents and citizens access to some of the world’s most modern and exciting building and infrastructure projects, from the whitewashed Louvre Museum on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island and sleek Metro rapid transit network in Dubai, to the luxurious Al Zahia residential development in Sharjah. Part of what makes these landmark projects so innovative is the under-the-hood technology that powers them, including the electrical components, automation equipment and switchgear from Al Ghandi Electrical and Automation.
Founded in 1976, the Dubai-based distributor of electrical and automation solutions represents Rittal, Rockwell Automation, Eaton, Hensel and other technology leaders in the UAE and beyond. Through the years, Al Ghandi has built an unmatched local reputation for technical excellence, quality and service.
Al Ghandi grew its business by nurturing relationships in the construction, engineering, infrastructure, oil and gas and retail sectors. Its customers have traditionally preferred to discuss their engineering challenges and technical requirements face-to-face with Al Ghandi staff at company offices in Dubai, Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi or at their own sites.
However, this approach to meeting and serving customers was resource-intensive because Al Ghandi represents millions of products from many suppliers. Its sales representatives routinely carried heavy product catalogues, data sheets, price lists and product samples to and from customer meetings. Countless hours were spent keeping physical reference materials and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system updated with the latest product and pricing information. Given these complexities, customer orders - from initial conversation to delivery - took an average of four to five weeks to be fulfilled.
“The Adobe team understood our vision, the nuances of our business and the cultural challenges we had to overcome with our customers. I saw how Adobe Commerce could establish us as a first mover in our market.”
Dr Srikrishna Ganesan
CEO, Al Ghandi Electrical & Automation
Addressing challenges through continuous improvement
Dr Srikrishna Ganesan, Al Ghandi’s CEO, recognised the potential impact of e-commerce on the electrical wholesaler business. In fact, he co-authored a paper on the topic (pages 117 to 125) that provides guidance for B2B companies looking to take advantage of the immense e-commerce opportunity. Following his own guidance of how to provide faster turnaround for customers under pressure to complete projects faster, , Dr Krishna made a bold decision.
“Throughout my personal and professional life, I’ve embraced the concept of continuous improvement,” he explains. “I believed we could significantly improve our purchasing experience by digitising every step of the process and moving it onto an e-commerce platform powered by a modern product information management system.”
But Dr Krishna also knew this could come with risks. The company’s customers were accustomed to face-to-face contact and like to discuss, debate and negotiate. They also want to know with whom they are dealing. Moreover, a digital transformation of this scale had yet to be done in this industry in the UAE.
One of the first actions undertaken by Dr Krishna and his team was to identify an e-commerce platform for what he designated the AGEA Shop. After researching and evaluating options, he selected Adobe Commerce, part of Adobe Experience Cloud.
“I felt comfortable with Adobe immediately and had the confidence the solution could do what we required,” recalls Dr Krishna. “The team understood our vision, the nuances of our business and the cultural challenges we had to overcome with our customers. I saw how Adobe Commerce could establish us as a first mover in our market.”
Dr Krishna particularly liked the fact that Commerce was open, scalable, more secure and could be easily integrated with the existing technology stack.
Digitally recreating a traditional trading environment
As a first step in the implementation, supplier data was integrated with Al Ghandi’s ERP system via an API to create a master catalogue of products, pricing and live inventory. Configurators were added to enable customers to input project requirements and technical criteria so that the AGEA Shop could automatically present them with solutions.
Furthermore, automated workflows created a seamless buying experience; Elasticsearch enabled an intuitive site search capability; and online payment gateway integration supported new payment methods. The company even designed the shopping basket in the shape of the letter G to reinforce the Al Ghandi brand. Finally, a quotation and negotiation module was added to generate instant price quotes for customers.
During tests of the platform, Dr Krishna and his team were astonished to achieve page loading speeds of just .2 milliseconds despite the site supporting so many products.
The AGEA Shop was launched in tandem with a market education campaign. Al Ghandi staff were trained to communicate the web shop’s benefits over the physical sales process and encourage customers to make the AGEA Shop their first-stop when looking to buy products. In addition, the company offered tailored training sessions to every customer, from large multinationals to electrical retailers to independent professionals.
The plan worked: the AGEA Shop was an instant hit. Dr Krishna says, “Customers could quickly see its value. Designers and estimation staff felt empowered. We knew our plan had paid off.”
“End-to-end order times have been reduced by an average of 10 days due to the efficiencies of Adobe Commerce.”
Webshop Manager, Al Ghandi Electrical & Automation
Transforming the customer experience
Adil Mohamed, the Webshop Manager for Al Ghandi, played a key role in helping to define and develop the digital sales strategy. Today, every conceivable requirement of Al Ghandi customers is met in the AGEA Shop. They can browse the master catalogue, compare solutions, check availability, request quotes, place orders, pose technical queries, track orders and retrieve a wealth of information pertaining to their purchase, such as data sheets, dimensions, test certificates and installation instructions. Customers can place customised orders, too.
Whereas an average of three to four meetings were previously required to close an order, customers can now buy products in real time, 24/7, from the convenience of their PC or mobile, without having to leave their workplace. They can also access their order history to review past transactions and any negotiated pricing, which is revisited by Al Ghandi on an annual basis.
“End-to-end order times have been reduced by an average of 10 days due to the efficiencies of Adobe Commerce,” says Mohamed.
Benefits felt across the business
Today, 95% of Al Ghandi customers regularly use the AGEA Shop. Moreover, in its first year, the site’s reputation for speed and efficiency enabled the company to double its customer base from 1,600 to 3,200. Another benefit of the digital transformation is that Al Ghandi has gone paperless, which helps the company meet its sustainability objectives.
Despite the site’s success, Dr Krishna says that a small percentage of customers remain resistant to change, often because they haven't got the technical capability to make online purchases. To help them, Al Ghandi used the Commerce headless architecture to create a progressive web application (PWA) available as an SDK that allows them to buy products in minutes from their mobile device. The company plans to convert the PWA into a hybrid application available from the App Store and Google Play.
Dr Krishna and his team are using Commerce analytics to drill into customer acquisition, account growth, sales and conversion on a daily basis; and to better understand how customers are using the AGEA Shop.
“We look at how many customers are coming per day, whether they have created orders or enquiries and which products they are interested in,” says Mohamed. With the data insights, they are fine-tuning the product lineup, introducing promotions and refining the site layout.
The analytical capabilities also enable the company to track the use of sales and service staff on customer-centric activities such as generating quote, responding to queries or fulfilling customised orders. It is also possible to see whether actions have led to a sale. This visibility - which also shapes internal training and development efforts - has led to improved levels of customer service and more effective resourcing of the business.
For their part, Al Ghandi staff find Commerce easy to use and like its intuitive features and functionality. Critical operational measures such as security and uptime are exactly where they need to be, according to Dr Krishna.
“Through Adobe Commerce, the AGEA Shop has become a benchmark for B2B commerce in the Middle East. Potential suppliers are so impressed that they’re coming to us and asking us to represent them.”
Dr Srikrishna Ganesan
CEO, Al Ghandi Electrical & Automation
Reshaping old approaches
Looking ahead, Al Ghandi plans to work with Adobe to improve the AGEA Shop further by strengthening analytics capabilities and extending the mobile app to a broader audience. With these efforts, Dr Krishna says the site will evolve through ongoing software enhancements and new features releases.
Reflecting on the site’s success, Dr Krishna says, “The level of transformation we’ve achieved so fast is astounding, particularly given the size of our business. Adobe has provided exceptional support every step of the way.”
He continues, “Through Adobe Commerce, the AGEA Shop has become a benchmark for B2B commerce in the Middle East. In fact, potential suppliers are so impressed that they’re coming to us and asking us to represent them. Above all, the web shop is a game changer for our customers - helping them to work smarter and faster than ever.”