How FoodServiceDirect.com
ramped-up B2B and B2C sales via
AI-powered commerce search?

How FoodServiceDirect.com
boosted conversions by 250% on it's
Magento
store via AI-Powered Site Search?

FoodServiceDirect.com started its journey in 1992 with the thought of revolutionizing how the foodservice industry made purchases back then while online was not the obvious channel. 26 years later FSD was reborn through investments from major partners like Unilever, Dot Foods Inc. FSD is a US-based foodservice online distributor offering B2B and B2C buyers an ever-expanding digital storefront for bulk purchases. With over 250,000 SKUs, FSD’s online catalog is stocked with a variety of classic crowd-pleasers and comfort foods, alongside environmentally friendly disposable products and supplies.

Founded: 1992

Headquarters: US

Industry: Grocery
(B2B, B2C)

SKU: 250,000

250%

Increase in search
conversions

30%

Increase in revenue
via Site Search

14%

Increase in Average
Order value

Product Placement is the key

FSD used to sell in bulk to varied retailers, hotels, food trucks, hospitals, etc. and it still does. However, post-relaunch in 2018, it set itself a goal of ramping up online sales 10x in 3 years’ time. As a part of an FMCG group, opening up an online store for B2C consumers who prefer buying in bulk made for an obvious choice.

“This was not an easy choice for us though since buying behavior is unique across B2B and B2C markets. However, one thing that remained common was our desire to create personalized, simple, and relevant purchase experiences for both kinds of customers”, says Adeel Murtaza, Head of eCommerce Technology

The eCommerce store cannot go wrong with the search results because showing the right product at the right time is as important as product placement in a physical supermarket or a departmental store. The convenience to buy cannot be compromised with. And, this has to happen along the online purchase journey till the time shopper places an order.

Adeel mentioned, “Think of a large departmental store like Walmart, Target or Costco, where a first-time shopper enters and gets overwhelmed to figure where a specific product is located. He looks around and starts walking across the store and finally gets to his product after spending one hour looking around. Alternatively, he could ask a store assistant who will directly share where the product is located. This is what smart search brings for the online eCommerce store.”

This could be achieved only when the product discovery solution understood the shoppers’ intent well. This is where Unbxd with its AI-based relevance and product discovery solution came in. (Unbxd is a technology partner on Magento commerce platform which is how FSD discovered Unbxd)

“We were looking for a solution that was easy to integrate with while hosting our eCommerce on Magento(Adobe Commerce). The search solution had to be fast and agile. The AI capabilities Unbxd demonstrated and offered, we knew we had found our solution.”

Adeel Murtaza, Head of Ecommerce Technology
FoodServiceDirect.com

AI-based Search Relevance

Unbxd tokenizes each search query, understands shopper intent to map to the most relevant product and desired attributes to showcase relevant results – even when shoppers use natural language or long-tail queries. The AI and ML models self optimize to enrich the overall shopping experience for online shoppers.

For example, a shopper who searches for a ‘kechup’ will be shown Tomato Ketchup despite the spelling mistake. Unbxd search will understand the shoppers intend to buy a “hellmann” product when she searches for ‘helmen’

There can be instances when a shopper comes searching for ham and cheese but the product is out of stock. Unbxd intelligent search algorithms will suggest the best alternatives (maybe beacon in this case) increasing the likelihood of the shopper making a purchase

Unbxd has added the super cool functionality of visual guided autosuggest that really shortens the path to purchase for a shopper. In this example here, when you search for meat, it shows you Top Searches, Key Suggestions, Categories, and Brands.

Similarly, it will start showing you suggestions while you are still typing and dynamically keep changing suggestions as you type. This is much more advanced than the basic version of autosuggest you get with the in-built search of the eCommerce platforms and the low-cost plug-ins.

This AI-based relevance technology of Unbxd has led to a 250% increase in search conversions, contributing to a 30% increase in revenue coming from search alone. Not only search, but Unbxd has also added value to the shoppers’ purchase journey by recommending relevant products and suggestions on the go.

Unbxd AI-Powered search solution engages with the shopper using relevant facets and filters, visual autosuggest thereby shortening the path-to-purchase and resulting in an increase in Average Order Value for FSD by 14%.

Overall Business Impact for FSD

This transformation has come up at a very apt time. At this time, when everyone is headed to eCommerce to buy essential products, eCommerce stores cannot afford shoppers to go without them being able to find what they came looking for.

Overall, FSD has seen a 40% increase in B2B sales. B2C Sales, on the other hand, has seen an exponential increase because of the pandemic crisis and accounts for 45% of the overall eCommerce sales.

Site-Search has played a pivotal role in shaping up the shopping experience for online shoppers for FSD and its growth trajectory. FSD has seen more repeat customers on their store post going live with Unbxd.

The Unbxd team has a great set of product offerings, especially for AI-driven Search and Recommendation Engine. One thing that stands out while our implementation was the openness from their team to accommodate our unique business case. I would strongly recommend any Ecom shop to consider Unbxd line of products for quick Custom off the shelf solution (COTS)
– Adeel Murtaza (Head of Ecommerce Technology FoodServiceDirect.com)

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