“At first, we were just thinking about combining the various content websites, but then we recognized such a great business opportunity in e-commerce that we decided to seize it. It was difficult for customers to form an overall picture of Hedengren as the businesses all had separate online services. In the long run, such a distributed model is inefficient for a company of this size. We decided to build a single service channel that would combine the communication websites and an online store, making product information easily available to customers,” explains marketing director Mirja Serkelä.
Hedengren takes a bold digitalization leap: a new service channel links businesses and customers
The Hedengren Group had several businesses in Finland; there were a total of 12 different websites, and one business also had an online store. In addition, Hedengren also operated in Sweden, Norway, and Estonia with local websites. Would it be possible to harmonize customer service and brand communication while supporting business digitalization with a single comprehensive digital solution?
Marketing to lead the project
Hedengren selected its marketing department as the leader of the customer-centric project. In the first phase, the plan was to set up an online store for Hedengren Security’s Finnish and Swedish customers. At the same time, Hedtec was given the opportunity to utilize the e-commerce functionality. Norway would be able to introduce the online store at a later point.
“From the start, this has been a strategic project for us with high expectations. We want to be as deep as possible in the digital environment so that we will not have a rude awakening later on when discovering that we are too late. The 100-year-old company has seen many changes and this project – the extensive digitalization of services – was certainly one of the most significant projects that the marketing department has ever managed,” Mirja says.
Three perspectives: solution, technology, and partners
Choices made at the start of a project often decide the success of the project. Hedengren’s approach was threefold. Mirja Serkelä describes the background for the choices made.
1. Which solution model would best serve customers?
We compared different solution models, their technical implementation, and their estimated costs for the project. The key issue was how to implement integrations into back-end systems. We also wanted to avoid heavy integrations that would give us trouble later. Lamia’s microservices architecture seemed to be a modern solution that would enable flexible development, including in the future. In addition, we had to account for the integration of the content management system as well. In the final online system, customers should feel that they are navigating smoothly within a single service, even though there are many different systems with integrations in the background.
2. Which technology should we choose?
We ended up with Magento 2 because we wanted to take advantage of a widely used technology that doesn’t require major customization. The wide product range also requires a solid platform.
3. What kind of partners do we need?
For us, the key issues in choosing a partner were agility, suitable size (not too big), and flexibility as well as excellence in technology, of course. Lamia met all of our criteria. In addition, we already had a partner on the ERP side, as well as Canter in product information management. It was important for all of the partners and individuals to be able to genuinely pull together.
Service design sets the framework
Hedengren had already conducted an extensive user survey and developed a content strategy, with many internal stakeholders, such as sales, product management, and top management, involved in the work. During the service design phase carried out by Lamia, it was ensured that all of the necessary input data for the digitalization project were obtained. The new digital service channel had to seamlessly combine the content websites and online stores. Based on the content goals, Drupal, in addition to Magento 2, was added to the technology stack as a CMS system.
“During the service design phase, we looked at the scope of the solution and eventually ended up partially limiting it and focusing only on the functionalities that we knew were the most important to our customers,” Mirja explains.
Strong confidence in technical implementation
“We had a really top-class outfit from Lamia, Hedengren, Canter, and other partners. Lamia assigned real first-class performers for the project,” says Mirja and continues:
“In projects like this one, there will always be surprises and unpredictable challenges. For example, product information integration and its optimization between product information management (PIM) and e-commerce can be challenging if you don’t have a highly competent team. It is important to be able to take into account the needs of the e-commerce user when designing the PIM model. Therefore, assembling a well-functioning, solution-focused team from all of the stakeholders was key to success and enabled us to complete the implementation phase. An important milestone in the project was when the solution was made available to Finnish customers for testing before summer 2019. Based on the trial, we obtained the necessary confidence for the launch in the fall.”
“In technical implementation, Lamia was the trusted partner that we originally sought. We had confidence in Lamia’s suggestions and recommendations for technical solutions throughout the project,” Mirja says.
Work in progress
“We now have version 1.0 of the digital service channel, which we definitely want to develop further, and we have a lot of ideas. In the spirit of the original idea of the project, we prefer to be one digital step ahead rather than behind, and that is why we want to invest in continuous development. The next important milestone will be the launch of the solution in Sweden,” Mirja explains.
Hedengren has also been developing marketing metrics for the new digital channel together with Lamia. The basic e-commerce indicators are being closely monitored and the results have been convincing.
Four lessons for digitalization projects
- It pays to invest in testing, even if it requires resources from your organization.
“We could have invested even more resources on testing, but the outcome is still good. We made some improvements after the launch as we received more customer feedback.”
- You can never communicate too much, and change management takes time.
“This project has been a big digital change for Hedengren, and both internal communication with all stakeholders and external communication with customers have been crucial.”
- You must have a partner whom you genuinely trust.
“Even though the project was big and there were challenges, we never lost confidence in Lamia and we were always convinced that we would solve the challenges. Which we did.”
- When the digital platform is built in a unified and content-oriented way, the subsequent marketing development is easy.
“We managed to bring the entire e-commerce package and content sites to the same platform. Both are backed by centralized product information management. Therefore, the next steps in content marketing are clear. Having marketing lead the project from the start was the right decision.”
“An awesome feeling!”
“I have enjoyed the collaboration with Lamia. There are very smart people on the team and we have always found solutions together. This project meant a big change for Hedengren, as key business processes were being digitalized. Of course, it has required change management in our own organization as well, but it has been a pleasure to introduce this new digital service channel that will take Hedengren to the next level in terms of customer experience.”
"In a few years, you can look at this differently and discern the big picture better. This is indeed a hugely positive reform for Hedengren. I can say that it was an awesome feeling to launch this solution!"
Two familiar partners
Canter had been Hedengren’s product information partner for more than 10 years when the project started. Lamia and Canter had also collaborated in the past, so the practices, technologies, and interfaces were familiar. A significant part of the project consisted of the integration of Canter’s Adeona PIM product information system into the new e-commerce solution.
“Product information management (PIM) is not just a technical undertaking. It is a strategic choice to support business goals and, for example, marketing. The Adeona PIM system was used at Hedengren to implement functionalities, such as the downloading of stylish and automatically updated product cards to the new pages. Hedengren is very successfully utilizing product information through multiple channels,” says customer account manager Katri Koskentalo from Canter.
“Both the e-commerce solution and the product information system are key building blocks in digitalization projects. That is why the collaboration and partnership of Lamia and Canter benefits our mutual customers. We have efficient, jointly agreed operating methods, and the customer does not have to coordinate our cooperation. Integration issues require thorough consideration, good documentation, and expertise. This collaboration model simplifies and reduces the customer’s work,” Katri concludes.