Ben E. Keith Company is a regional distributor of food service products and premium alcoholic beverages. The Food Division supplies more than 20,000 products consisting of produce, frozen foods, meats, dry groceries, refrigerated foods, paper goods, and equipment supplied to restaurants, hospitals, schools, hotels and other institutional businesses across the Southwest.
Customers experience Ben E. Keith through the company’s ongoing commitment to providing the highest quality products, outstanding customer service and helpful ideas that support their customers’ growth. Ben E. Keith’s “high touch, high tech” approach is valuable. Customers were beginning to ask for additional technical capabilities and more visibility into the ordering and fulfillment processes. When it became clear that it was time to refresh the technical side of things, Ben E. Keith turned to Credera.
Ben E. Keith engaged Credera to design and build a new platform that was visually appealing, easy to use, provided a seamless experience across multiple devices and allowed its customers and employees to build a deeper partnership with one another.
Ben E. Keith initially believed that building a mobile application would meet their customer’s needs. However, because there were numerous digital touch points for customers to order food, view analytics, pay invoices and search product catalogues, Credera recommended a consolidated platform that included mobile capabilities. The newly customized platform was named the Entrée System.
Credera led a Discovery phase to ensure the Entrée System would be visually appealing and easy to use. Customers representing various industries were interviewed and included in the process. Based on their input, Credera’s user experience team created visual representations of how the Entrée System would look and function.
Ben E. Keith wanted to utilize certain important components of their legacy solution and purchase new solutions only when absolutely necessary. Credera was able to create a solution that leveraged critical Ben E. Keith legacy applications while also modernizing the solution overall.
One critical piece of the modernized platform included a new eCommerce solution. Credera leveraged its eCommerce expertise and guided Ben E. Keith through the selection process. Sitecore Commerce was ultimately chosen.
Building the Entrée System was a collaborative effort between Ben E. Keith, their customers, and Credera.
The teams followed an Agile methodology which allowed them to produce the responsive web application quickly and in three phases. The first phase focused on building the product catalogue and customer-facing website pages. The second phase targeted the ordering and eCommerce solution. Finally, the team addressed the invoice system and marketing functionality.
In addition to the main platform, the iOS and Android mobile applications were built leveraging APIs and UI elements that had been previously created. These mobile apps allow users to place orders as they walk through their restaurants and businesses, whether they are online or offline.
One other notable element includes the use of ElasticSearch, a powerful index engine, to drive the catalogue process. This allowed Ben E. Keith to save the expense on commerce licenses.
Screen shot of the Ben E. Keith Entrée System interface:
Pilot and Delivery
Throughout the implementation phase, Credera trained and worked with the Ben E. Keith team to ensure they would know how to support and improve the Entrée System without Credera’s assistance.
Once the Entrée System was completed, the team began a pilot program with a select group of customers to identify challenges and suggested improvements. This allowed the team to uncover any necessary adjustments prior to releasing to a broader base of users. The Entrée System has since rolled out to additional customers in a controlled manner.
“Everyone really gravitated to the [Entrée System|, because it is so easy to use,” said Mike Sweet, President, Ben E. Keith Foods.
“What stands out to me about Credera is their desire to learn our company, and how intently they listened to what we were trying to accomplish,“ said Brian Lynch, Vice President of Sales Development and Training, Ben E. Keith. “Credera helped us come up with the coolest thing we have seen around here in a long time.”
The Entrée System continues to be adopted by Ben E. Keith’s customers.
Initial results include:
- Increased partnership value between Ben E. Keith and its customers – Sales representatives spend less time placing and tracking orders and more time sharing innovative product offerings, incentives, and opportunities for their customers to save money
- Improved customer experience – The new customer platform is easier to use and reduced the number of online user interfaces from nine to one
- Created a competitive advantage – Ben E. Keith is one of very few companies serving the food industry with the latest technology
- Increased efficiency – The time and steps to place an order, review an order’s status, and pay invoices has dramatically decreased
- Eliminated the need for multiple sets of login credentials – The Entrée System leverages single sign-on capabilities
- Enhanced search capability – Customers have more search options to view the product catalogue and find what they need to grow their businesses
- Improved marketing functionality – The Entrée System allows the marketing team to deliver campaigns, notifications, alerts, and messaging more efficiently and in a timely fashion
- Increase the speed of technology implementations – The technology team has adopted the agile methodology and is able to produce results more quickly
- Leveraged prior investment in key legacy solutions – The Entrée System seamlessly integrates with Ben E. Keith’s robust mainframe