Ibexa Partner of the Month for December: Creode
In this column, we usually celebrate the successful collaboration between Ibexa and one of our long-standing partners. This month we are doing something different and welcome a new partner to the Ibexa ecosystem.
Creode is a digital agency based in Leeds and with offices in London. The Covid lockdowns have kept Guy Weston, Creode’s co-founder and joint managing director, more or less confined to the north of England, its industrial heartland. ‘We found that larger clients were putting their projects on hold,’ says Weston, ‘but the pandemic caused serious problems for smaller manufacturers that had not previously considered eCommerce.’
What made Creode decide to partner with Ibexa to help manufacturers make that first step towards digitalization?
‘Two things,’ Weston replies, ‘customer experience and Open Source.’
Some years before co-founding his own agency in 2012, Weston had a lightbulb moment. He was scratching his head about why a pay-per-click website he had created did not convert although it was attracting plenty of traffic. ‘When I dug into the analytics, I had this epiphany. It’s not all about the traffic that you drive. It’s about the experience.’
Weston realized that any system provider would have to share Creode’s obsession with UX as being at the heart of a brand. The other box a vendor had to tick was Open Source.
‘We had always been real advocates of Open Source as a route to market. As we were building more and more complex solutions, we were cobbling together more and more third-party code — effective, but not very scalable or manageable in the long-term.
‘What attracted us to Ibexa was the Open Source technology stack, but with the underlying assurance of a development team that had stood the test of time and made sure everything worked together under one hood.’
The Importance of the Brand
Creode and Ibexa share a point of view about the importance of the brand proposition. ‘If you get that bit right,’ says Weston, ‘then the UX bit becomes easier and the marketing bit becomes easier. And ultimately the conversion rate goes up as you move through the experience.’
Many of the manufacturers that come to Creode do not think of themselves as a brand. They produce ball bearings, industrial packaging, plastic and glass bottles for the food industry — often in state-of-the-art automated facilities — and look at the product as the brand message. They sell, but they do not market. Sales may be sluggish or stagnating but very seldom do these manufacturers tell themselves that what they need to do is create better customer experiences, make their website responsive, facilitate check-out, provide a real-time stock position — in short, all the things a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) can do for them.
Yet they know that they are missing something.
‘The technology, the brand … that is almost never the trigger,’ says Weston. ‘A lot of the sales reps in manufacturing have been selling ball bearings or industrial packaging for 30 or 40 years. They have been to every single trade fair. They know everyone, and they’ve seen the same buyers year after year after year, and yet they’re not selling to these people.’
There are huge opportunities in B2B manufacturing to build the digital tools and transform their sales
And so, the conversation starts. Do these buyers really know what you do? Are you educating them? ‘And then on to the brand. What is your proposition? How are you nurturing your leads? What are you doing online that is different from what your competitors are doing? That’s where it begins. Our clients very rarely come to the conversation saying, ‘I want to re-platform’.’
The Covid lockdowns gave Creode the opportunity to completely transform how two manufacturers thought about their sales model. One was a textile mill supplying some of the most iconic names in fashion such as Chanel and Burberry with fabric. ‘A sales representative would travel to London or Milan with a swatch book and fabric samples. That was it. All the sales were face-to-face.’
The travel bans destroyed this business model and the manufacturer approached Creode to (quickly!) build the digital tools it needed to start selling remotely.
The second case was a brewer that lost its distribution channels overnight when the first UK lockdown was imposed. ‘We built a quick eCommerce site for them, and we've been working with them for the last six months to optimize that experience,’ says Weston.
The brewer is turning over less but earning more because the margins in D2C are greater than for trade sales. ‘The business has skyrocketed through the pandemic in a sector that you’d think had been completely decimated by the closure of their biggest sales channel.’
Going forward, what are the lessons for Creode and Ibexa in how they should join forces to help B2B manufacturers grow their business?
‘First of all,’ says Weston, ‘the business opportunity is huge. A lot of B2B manufacturers really are still using fax to put through orders.’
Secondly, a powerful DXP gives B2B businesses the flexibility to run not only different sites and brands in different languages for different export markets from one platform but also to support different ways of selling. The corona lockdowns unlocked some of these possibilities.
‘That is the exciting part,’ Weston concludes, ‘that many businesses have so much untapped potential.’
On their journey together, Creode and Ibexa will work hard to turn all that potential into a reality.