Coates is the country's largest equipment supplier. With a 130 year history, Coates operates more than 160 locations offering customers more than one million equipment hire options.
Coates partnered with Switch in 2019 to help drive momentum and deliver the Sitecore components of its overarching digital transformation strategy, referred to internally as 'Customer Connect'.
Customer Connect is a significant, whole-of-business program, solving many challenges across marketing, IT and operations, while working to solve challenges within internal departments, such as sales, customer service, inventory and logistics. In order to service the internal business units and deliver end-user value, the adoption of an agile methodology created the foundations for building team culture, collaboration, prioritisation management, governance and enablement.
The core challenge addressed by the project was the need to meet both consumer and business expectations within a single platform. Complexity was augmented by a complex pricing model and an intricate Invoicing and Payment-on-Account processes. The project was therefore a 'whole-of-business' digital transformation program - Customer Connect - from which several significant digital service solutions were released.
In the early stages of the engagement, Switch supported consolidation of stakeholder buy-in across the organisation - essential in order to establish confidence in the program and advocate for a longer-term roadmap. In order to achieve business-value and meet customer expectations, timelines for the initial project were intentionally short - just 12 weeks from concept to the first release of Customer Connect. The new Hire Now app was completed in March 2019, propelling Coates into a direct-to-consumer eCommerce platform.
Coates's new Sitecore XP solution (including Experience Commerce (XC) and Content Hub (CH)) is a single platform across B2B, B2E and B2C, consisting of web, apps, portals and IoT. The underlining application supports Website Experience Management, eCommerce and Digital Asset Management on a Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, integrating into a suite of business applications including ERP, CRM and PIM.
Hire Now : Hire Now is an online booking app, initially designed for cash customers, making it simple and easy to book equipment online for collection from one of Coates's 160 branches or delivery to the customer's site.
My Sales: My Sales leverages the eCommerce functionality built for customers to enable the internal sales team through pricing guidance, availability and integrated access to the Coates PIM for specification and attributes.
My Coates: Coates's management portal, My Coates and provides customers with a total view of their current and previous hires, invoices and staff across all of their sites.
RIIOT: Coates's RIIOT (Rental Industrial Internet of Things) platform surfaces valuable equipment telemetry data through an easily accessible portal dashboard.
Digital Asset Managment: Sitecore's Content Hub is a key enabler to all of the Customer Experience aspirations outlined above as it provides the link between marketing, inventory, product and customer facing applications.
The Hire Now project was completed in just 12 weeks (launched in May 2019) and has already radically improved Coates's online customer experience. 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.
In addition, the IoT project (RIIOT) is helping Coates increase the utilisation of equipment through delivering direct customer value. In consultation with the regional management team, the decision was made to use the data produced as an input for a hire equipment managed service. Coates would supply a dedicated analyst in order to identify any areas of inefficiency, using location and utilisation data to identify underutilised or redundant equipment that could be off-hired early or replaced with a machine already on hire.
In terms of value for employees, user adoption of the newly available functionality grows month on month.
The combination and integration of the Coates Sitecore stack with business critical applications and infrastructure, ensures that we can deliver the very best customer experience at any time of day or night. This ensures that the technology is an enabler for our customers to be more successful in their businesses and for them to see Coates as a crucial partner for the future. By focusing on the customer experience throughout everything we do, we've leveraged the platform to provide us with the insights and capabilities to evolve rapidly in a constantly changing landscape.
Ultimately this manifests itself in improvements of the customer experience by ensuring that our technology stack is not an inhibitor but rather an enabler for the successful continuity of our customers businesses.
The ROI is two-fold. Our cost-to-serve is greatly decreasing, 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.