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Farmer Boy was searching for an ecommerce website that would be a reflection of their brand and a center of excellence for their clients. They had an online presence but they were not fully empowering their customers with the tools to transact online. Their legacy site did not represent the depth nor the breadth of products for sale nor did it truly convey the value added services they provide to their customer base. Most importantly, the website did not promote the resources and knowledge that a multi-generational family-run business brings to the community.
Headquartered in Myerstown, PA, Farmer Boy supplies livestock machinery and equipment to the agricultural communities of America. With thousands of products and a special barn construction solution, their business consists of 3 core parts to serve their farming clients: systems, supplies and service. For over 30 years, the company has offered animal handling and housing, pest control, medications and protective equipment for bovine, swine, equine and poultry farms. The Farmer Boy customer ranges from large commercial operations, family-owned and operated mid-sized farmers and small hobbyists who have set up a small homestead in their backyard.
Along with a full replatform and new tech stack, Farmer Boy was looking for a complete redesign of their website. Guidance conducted remote customer interviews to establish a baseline for existing helpful features and areas that required improvement. The design approach had to resemble the company’s target audience: a clean, no-frills, minimalist site with a streamlined purchase path and ease of shopability with a focus on a compelling user experience.
Farmer Boy is not simply a transactional business. They focus on building long-term lasting relationships with their customers and within the communities where they operate. Guidance focused on helping Farmer Boy rebrand with a modern design that is highly usable in terms of search and navigation but still remains true to their roots: their brand is approachable, trustworthy, friendly and welcoming but retains the esteem of a well-established business.
Many of Farmer Boy’s most established customers use mobile technology in different ways from what would be considered standard usage. Their multi-decade relationships with Amish, Mennonite and Brethren groups are important and many of these family owned and operated businesses have been buying products and services using only a mobile device over the last few years. Mobile navigation needed a clear path to purchase with a practical approach to design while still allowing the Farmer Boy branding to shine through. Guidance’s navigation design is deliberately straightforward with a focus on usability and clear user experience.
The most important aspect of this project was to improve the findability of products. Guidance worked with subject matter experts (SME) at Farmer Boy to relabel and reorganize the entire product catalog in an effort to simplify and clean up the main menu. Guidance created a navigation scheme to support the newly created taxonomy and strongly advocated for an AI-powered search and recommendation solution. Once the user has found a product and lands on the product description page (PDP), the newly created PDP serves as a true shopping experience with improved product descriptions and enhanced layout to truly inform the customer’s buying process.
In order to provide a solid foundation for their newly redesigned website, Farmer Boy needed a cloud-based ecommerce platform capable of providing hybrid B2B and B2C functionality with full long-term scalability. BigCommerce was the best choice for their regularly updated platform that provides full B2B and B2C capabilities and unlimited integration potential. Guidance worked with Farmer Boy to establish a customized theme specific to their ecommerce requirements.
Farmer Boy’s customers will have full visibility into their order history as well as complete returns online; prior to the replatform, those functionalities had to be performed manually. Quotes can now be fully automated online and customers can access their account level pricing once logged into their account. Inventory management was once a pain point for Farmer Boy and real-time inventory feeds can now prevent customer frustration and potential churn. Overall, the move to BigCommerce has given Farmer Boy the flexibility to transact entirely online and has removed a barrier to entry into the online agricultural market.
Guidance integrated over 12 new ecommerce solutions, including Product Information Management (PIM), an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), a visual CMS (Content Management System) and a full checkout (with invoicing and trade credit options) and shipping (for freight and LTL) functionality.
The move to a mature digital presence coincides with a generational shift in shopping habits. Many of the current farm owners are handing the reins to their children who were raised expecting digital tools.
Part of the replatform to BigCommerce meant transitioning to a new payments provider. Farmer Boy selected APS Payments as the solution fully integrates with Sage 100 (ERP) and BigCommerce. APS Payments provides superior flexibility and improved features over their previous payment provider such as tokenized credit card data, which simplifies PCI compliance, and daily automatic batch reporting. Multiple payment methods are accepted and the solution supports Level 3 processing and EMV chip functionality.
The largest and most complex integration for this project was the Product Information Management (PIM) solution. Salsify was chosen for their native integration with BigCommerce and the advanced functionality for a hybrid B2B and B2C ecommerce model. Farmer Boy managed all product information manually prior to the Salsify integration and this solution represents a centralized source of product truth and an efficient form of data collection and governance.
This shift to a PIM solution has helped Farmer Boy manage all customer-facing product data needed to support a newly centralized digital catalog. Formerly, this product information was scattered throughout departments and systems frequently with varying degrees of accuracy. This new system allows Farmer Boy to store and standardize all product content, marketing content and images in one location. They have been able to streamline workflows and automate their printed catalogs, including creating custom catalogs for top customers.
A major frustration for any customer is an incomplete total at checkout, especially when it relates to shipping costs. Farmer Boy’s huge product assortment ranges from small parcel items to large freight and LTL shipments and shipping rate calculations was a huge pain point for the company as all costs were assigned manually. The ShipperHQ integration has completely eliminated the complexity and burden of freight and LTL calculations. ShipperHQ optimizes the built-in BigCommerce checkout experience with flexible shipping rates and delivery options and completely tailors the experience to Farmer Boy’s customer profile. This has meant reduced cart abandonment and dramatically diminishes the shipping exception costs for Farmer Boy as each weight/dimension error results in fees to the merchant.
Deploying ShipperHQ has meant an increase in shipment rate accuracy for even the most complex orders and the creation of shipping rules and restrictions for products, carriers and shipping methods. Farmer Boy can now establish shipping rates by geographic zones, cart quantities and specific customers at the account level. It enables table rates, flat rate shipping, in-store pickup and dimensional weight-based costs.
Before their new website, Farmer Boy handled all forms of trade credit manually. Guidance integrated Credit Key to extend Farmer Boy’s ability to extend business credit to their customers without exposing them to any additional financial risk. Credit Key approves Farmer Boy’s customers for better monthly terms immediately at checkout by assuming all the risk and factoring all invoices. Farmer Boy can now instantly extend Net D payment terms to their customers both online and offline. Guidance helped Farmer Boy ensure that all existing credits carried over into the new Credit Key solution.
Shogun is a powerful visual editor used to design product landing pages, product description pages and more. Before this solution was in place, Farmer Boy relied on manual coding and bulky updates to their website. With Shogun, they can easily create new pages within the redesigned framework provided by Guidance’s design team. Not only is Shogun an easy drag and drop page builder and visual content management system (CMS), it also includes features like A/B testing, analytics, scheduled publication and many other marketing features. Farmer Boy can now easily identify their top performing pages and monitor key metrics like sales, add to carts, bounce rate, sessions and conversions.
Customer relationships are key to the farming communities; although digital commerce is a relatively recent addition to the mix, Farmer Boy still relies heavily on strong ties to its loyal customers. One of the hesitations around ecommerce is the lack of person-to-person interactions but with the integration of Re:Amaze, Farmer Boy can now communicate directly with its customers through helpdesk and chatbot functionality. Re:Amaze is a customer messaging platform designed to provide incredible customer service at every digital touchpoint. It works with existing email addresses, social media accounts, SMS/Voice numbers and comes with built-in live chat, pre-built chatbots, co-browsing, status page, and FAQ features.
Although some transactions for smaller farms fall into the B2C category of transactions, the majority of business is B2B and requires quotes. Whereas quotes were an entirely offline and manual process, Quote Ninja builds professional quotes in just a few clicks. Customers can build their own quotes directly on the storefront during the checkout process. Sales representatives can then view, manage and create quotes from a centralized dashboard. Quote Ninja allows Farmer Boy to generate additional revenue through quote automation and save resources by only involving sales reps at the final stages of quote production.
Further B2B functionality was built out through the integration with BundleB2B. Farmer Boy required a comprehensive suite of B2B tools that would empower the business-level customer with seamless transactions and self-serve account capabilities, previously only available through phone calls and in-person transactions. BundleB2B is a SaaS application that offers B2B functionality to businesses by enabling users to access corporate accounts, set multiple authority levels, share quotes and other key features required in a B2B portal. Furthermore, sales representatives can log in on behalf of a company, access shopping lists created by buyers in the company, add products to the cart, and complete placement of the order.
"[Guidance] have been awesome on support, supporting us all the way through...I really appreciate that, it means a lot to me and Farmer Boy."
Guidance’s newly redesigned menu houses the main product categories but with a catalog as huge as Farmer Boy’s, a powerful search solution is required. Nextopia, a Searchspring company was selected for its AI-powered search and merchandising capable of transforming the ecommerce shopping experience. The customizable onsite search, navigation, recommendation and merchandising applications use machine learning to improve the customer experience and the product discovery journey eliminates manual intervention. This leads to converting more browsers into buyers and reduces the need for customer service calls to find products online. The solution includes site search with autocomplete, visual merchandising, landing page builders for search terms, smart product recommendations and AI-powered personalization for search and navigation.
Farmer Boy partnered with Guidance to fully revamp their online presence. Guidance deployed a full BigCommerce replatform and integrated an entirely new ecosystem of B2B and B2C solutions along with a new visual design and user experience.
Every single part of the business has been reworked down to the SKU level to bring a new class of ecommerce business to their clients—many of whom have been part of the Farmer Boy “family” for over 30 years.
Silver Winner - Best Visual Appeal – Utility
Gold Winner - Business to Business
Best B2B Solution BigCommerce Partner Award
The new ecommerce redesign and replatform has given Farmer Boy the opportunity to tell their brand story in new and innovative ways to their customers. They have firmly established their company as an omnichannel organization capable of extending their reach far beyond their previous online presence.
Farmer Boy understands that now, more than ever, is the time to fully embrace digital and to invest in ecommerce so as not to be reactive to trends in the industry but to truly stand out as leaders in their space. This fully best-in-breed approach is designed to bring their once also-ran website to a whole new class in the agricultural ecommerce industry.