How Gala Imports boosted customer conversion by 50 per cent

Australian container distributor overhauls ecommerce and CRM platforms to drive more tailored shopping and conversations with customers


Conversion rate rises of 50 per cent in key segments and the foundations for tailored digital engagement are some early wins for Gala Imports Australia after overhauling its ecommerce and CRM approach.

The glass container distributor has been around for 35 years, and has 35,000 customers and more than 5000 SKUs used for everything from pharmaceutical products to food storage. An early adopter of a website and ecommerce in the late 1990s, Gala’s managing director, Andrew Albrow, said the team was collecting email addresses before many people had email, and building up its customer database.

Various website iterations eventually led to adoption of Magento’s ecommerce platform. About two years ago, the business then recognised a gap in the market around smaller manufacturers, including hyper-local operators and small traders.

“We were getting a lot of enquires at this level but we couldn’t afford to serve them as it required a very different pricing and support model,” Albrow told CMO.  

This realisation led to the debut of ‘Pack My Product’, a second brand and ecommerce website enabling smaller operators to access Gala products in much smaller quantities. This proved quite successful, with those growing into bigger businesses then transitioning to the main Gala offering at a later date. Both ecommerce offerings ran off the Magento platform.

In the last 12 months, Gala was facing the decision of whether to migrate to a new Magento offering or look for another option as its sites headed towards end of life. A desire to access more custom B2B features and a more connected customer experience saw Gala go to market for a new solution. That, in turn, led to adoption of Oro’s OroCommerce and OroCRM platforms.

“We have a lot of interactions in a day, and at the front-end, our platform and sales engine was an important content point,” Albrow explained. “With Oro, were really attracted by the streamlined customer contacts in the back end, which we’d had in Magento previously. The front-end of our site, including pricing and what’s on the website, is our bible and has to be correct.”  

The migration project commenced in September 2019, with Gala bringing on Adelaide-based digital agency, Aligent Consulting, to structure the project and undertake user experience design work. The original plan was to finalise development by Christmas and go live in March.

“Then COVID-19 came like a sledgehammer,” Albrow said, and the rollout was delayed as Gala experienced a “stratospheric” increase in inquiries and sales - a rapid consequences of the crisis and lockdown. The new ecommerce and CRM platforms then went live at end of June and have helped Gala capitalise on the increasing demand in recent months, while providing stable, scalable services for customers.

“What we experienced in March and April, in the peak of our first phase of the pandemic, saw an exponential increase from other segments of products,” Albrow said. A good example is hand sanitiser. “You can make it, but you still need a container to put it in,” he pointed out.

“These were not regular customers prior to the pandemic. The challenge has been to get as many to stick with us afterwards. There is great functionality in Oro we haven’t had before that will continue to pay dividends here.”  

Already, the new tech has delivered higher conversion rates of customers, up 50 per cent in July compared to immediately prior to going live with Oro.

A notable improvement is discoverability of products online, Albrow continued. “We have a large number of variations in product. For example, multiple closure types of jars and bottles. This search has exponentially improved,” he said.

As part of the migration, Gala took the opportunity to reset passwords and gain more information on our customers, including the segments they’re operating in and profile information. “All of that enables us in the future to be more targeted with our messaging,” Albrow said.  

“We had been concerned as we know many people just don’t like change. But with few exceptions, it was a seamless transition for us and continues to be so.”  

Gala’s customer base is broad, ranging from hobbyists and those running a side gig, to very large industrial manufacturing players. There is a big difference as a result between those who know exactly what they’re looking for, versus those who don’t know what they need. The new platform allows Gala to target range and content to these different personas.

“It’s a single underlying inventory, but presented with a different look and feel, website domains, functionality and pricing,” Albrow said. For instance, industrial customers prefer to pay on cost and have access different shipment methods, while consumers and smaller customers are delivered a more consumer-like experience online.

Targeting content and communications

The tech transition has also enabled Gala to connect the dots between its ecommerce platform and CRM, marketing communications and customer support more seamlessly.

As Albrow pointed out, the group had more of a shotgun approach historically to marketing communications, and had been using Mailchimp as its primary communications tool before the new Oro rollout, targeting either the main Gala or Pack My Product databases.

“We couldn’t target them with different food containers, or by size of customer,” Albrow said.  

With the new structure and capabilities, Gala can tailor communications to size and worth. It’s not just capability to segment email marketing, which has led to better open rates and clickthroughs, but also an ability to continue targeting content once a customer lands on the site, Albrow said. As they continue to browse through categories, product detail, cross-sell and upsell messaging appears onsite, informed by segmentation and we target content accordingly.

Alongside this, Gala has been building up its content capability, and created a new digital marketing position focused on targeting content and maturing these capabilities. Another project in the works is implementing the ability to create custom catalogues for specific customers.

“These will allow them to see and order online with tailored pricing. Having tailored pricing and terms and conditions they can use online will streamline our back-end enormously,” Albrow said.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a unique impact on sales figures, particularly in March and April, Gala saw a 25-30 per cent rise in average order size depending on segment in July. Albrow added year-on-year all metrics are up, from conversion rates (up over 50 per cent), to traffic and order value.  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

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