Thanks to a strong background of overseeing digital transformation at well-known retail and consumer brands like Verizon, Canon and New York & Co., Chintan Patel was able to bring a B2C approach to SiteOne Landscape Supply Inc. when she joined the company five years ago.
In that short time, the 20-year technology career veteran has helped transform the company’s e-commerce and digital operations.
“SiteOne didn’t have any transactional websites when I joined,” says Patel, vice president of e-commerce and digital transformation at SiteOne. “The sales channel was all about the point of sales at the brick-and-mortar stores; they didn’t have any other sales channels. This was us trying to do something for the very first time in the green industry — not just our company.”
Patel’s efforts in helping SiteOne transform digitally are impressive, helping her become one of MDM’s 2021 Women in Distribution award winners.
She leads SiteOne’s digital and e-commerce technology development and operations, including the point-of-sale system that is installed at the landscape supply distributor’s 550-plus stores and its corporate ERP system.
Bringing e-commerce to the “green” industry — as the landscape equipment distribution world is known — was challenging because it was so new to the vertical, Patel says. But it also gave her the chance to build something from scratch and use her extensive B2C experience.
“No one in this space had a transactional website,” she says. “Customers in the industry weren’t used to having to order via a website, but we knew that was changing. In their personal lives, these customers were very much in tune with ordering on Amazon and other websites, so they knew what to expect. If we had built a website for B2B customers that wasn’t like the B2C experience, that wasn’t going to fly.”
To overcome the hurdle of getting B2B customers to adapt to e-commerce, Patel and her team did what they could to make SiteOne’s transactional website customer friendly. They used voice-of-customer tools and held customer-focused discussions to learn their pain points and better understand what features they wanted from a website.
But the biggest obstacle was clean data for customer ordering, Patel says.
“A lot of distributors’ data is not customer-facing; it’s not ready to be in front of customers,” she says. “Associates in a branch might be familiar with a product and all its descriptions, images, specs and videos, but a customer who’s coming to the website needs all that information on a very rich product page to be able to convert. There were a lot of things that we had to make ready from a customer’s point of view. We had data but it was not something that we could just share on the website and hope for the best. We had to prime it before it came out for the customers’ eyes.”
In his nomination of Patel, Matt Jones praised her accomplishments, nothing said she had “launched the first fully integrated B2B e-commerce website in the green industry on all three platforms and a mobile app; built the multimillion-dollar e-commerce business from the ground up including customer acquisition, adoption, marketing and content strategy, analytics and technology; built the e-commerce marketing and IT department from the ground up; and modernized the technology landscape to position the company for omnichannel growth on SAP Hybris e-commerce platform on AWS and SAP cloud.”
Patel is involved with Women in the Green Industry, a group for women working in the landscape supply businesses. She said SiteOne has been progressive in terms of bringing more women to leadership roles, especially in technology — herself being a great example. She now hopes the industry will follow suit.
“It’s changing,” Patel says. “It is still male-dominated, but we have more women in leadership — within our company and my team. We’re trying to provide more opportunities for female peers in the industry.”
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