As the country’s largest equipment supplier, Coates Hire has been helping to build a better future for Australians for over 130 years. With branches in over 160 locations and a fleet of around 2000 delivery vehicles, Coates Hire’s customers have access to a range of over 1 million pieces of serviced equipment no matter where their job site is located.
Coates Hire’s dedication to providing customers with the equipment they need, has led the business to invest heavily in digital solutions that strengthen this capability. In 2015, Coates Hire released My Coates Hire, a customer portal built on the Sitecore platform, enabling its largest customers to easily track and manage hire equipment across multiple large-scale projects.>
Coates Hire has now turned its attention to improving the online experience for all customers through the development of an e-commerce web app called Hire Now.
Coates Hire needed a scalable solution built entirely around the needs of its typical trade customers, such as small builders and subcontractors, who are typically short for time and working on the road.
Before Hire Now, Coates Hire’s online customers were required to submit an enquiry form via the company’s website and await a reply with from a customer service representative during business hours. The company’s digital team envisioned a lightweight, fast and adaptable web app that could be used anywhere, at any time, to meet the needs of a deadline-driven audience.>
The introduction of an ecommerce solution was also a vital objective for Coates Hire from a revenue perspective. Having viewed its website as purely a lead generation tool in the past, the organisation had been missing out on valuable online revenue opportunities, as well as the chance to offer its customers a 24/7 instant booking service.
For John Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager at Coates Hire, an unforeseen challenge was the company’s data. “We have over 1 million pieces of equipment”, remarks Hayes. “We had no idea, even five to 10 years ago, that we might need to access information in this way in the future, so simply going back and structuring it in a way that can be utilised by the app to inform the experience has been a major task”.>
Working closely with the Coates Hire programme delivery team, Switch proposed an upgrade from Sitecore 8.2 to 9.1, which would enable the organisation to take advantage of the latest ecommerce capabilities, such as deeper analytics and customer insights. Designed to be fully responsive (a key requirement, considering most customers will access the app remotely) the Hire Now site features a new headless framework, enabling the team to better manage the site in the future, as well as automated testing, capable of identifying errors within 1-2 minutes rather than hours.
Extensive user testing informed many of the UX design features within the app, such as the option to pick-up or ‘deliver to site within 3 hours’, ‘book now’ (without the need to create an account) and a range of more than 140 products that can be selected within a preferred timeslot.>
With the project completed in just 12 weeks (launched in May 2019), the Hire Now app is set to radically improve Coates Hire’s online customer experience. “The potential is two-fold”, explains Hayes. “Firstly, our ‘cost to serve’ should decrease as the booking process is significantly more efficient, lowering dependency on our customer service centres to process bookings. Secondly, we’re opening ourselves up as a 24/7 online store. We know that often contractors need equipment at short notice, so the ability to instantly confirm bookings out-of-hours will increase our opportunity to win hires, while removing unnecessary delays for our customers”.
The app is so fast and intuitive, exactly what we had envisioned for our customers. Switch has really shown its expertise and insight on this project, seamlessly matching Coates Hire’s requirements with best practice CX design. We now have a headless commerce solution that is adaptable and built for the future of our business, rather than just our immediate needs.