New England BioLabs’ new website with integrated e-commerce drove a 29% increase in engagement and is the foundation for continued enterprise growth.

NEB transforms around digital

Like many other large organizations with legacy systems, NEB reached the point where its proprietary technology platforms could no longer scale to meet the needs of the business. Even more critical, the digital properties weren’t providing the same level of customer experience and service that has been the hallmark of NEB’s brand for the past 37 years.

NEB was at an important inflection point: competitively, it saw the need to grow mind share, make the web the center of its corporate strategy, and build a more sustainable technology platform that would serve as a foundation for future growth.

“It was painfully clear that our custom CMS could no longer scale, given our growing product catalog, site traffic, and marketing needs,” says Tanya Osterfield, digital marketing manager at NEB. “And the manual nature of our updates not only was inefficient but could potentially introduce inconsistencies that could jeopardize our customers’ trust in NEB.”

With a complex catalog of 1,500+ highly scientific products, NEB also recognized the need to architect a content and data strategy that would provide a single source of “truth” across the organization, integrate with line-of-business applications, and empower scientists in the lab to make data changes.

NEB worked with Sitecore partner Connective DX (formerly known as ISITE Design) and Sitecore to develop its digital strategy and take an outside-in approach to understanding the role of digital through the lens of NEB’s customers and prospects. This included replatforming onto the Sitecore® Experience Platform™, and crafting a strategy to better support the digital channel. Creating and publishing product data as well as driving marketing, sales, customer support, and service were paramount. In short, this would be a transformational project for the organization and its customers.

User research informs digital strategy

NEB is loved by the scientific community and its customers, and NEB’s digital channel needed to build upon and extend this well-earned brand position. To thoroughly understand NEB’s customer needs, the project teams conducted extensive primary research, including contextual interviews and an online survey querying more than 750 users in all segments.

Secondary research included NEB stakeholder discovery and alignment workshops, as well as industry, brand, and competitive research. Seven personas were created and prioritized from the research, including a task-based analysis that helped prioritize content, features, and the overall digital experience. The customer insights helped inform a strategy that significantly shifted the product-centric content to offer expanded information needed by users.

Product catalog hub connects digital experiences

More so than products from other companies, NEB’s products possess a dizzying array of detail and specification. The new architectural structure, process, and workflow optimized the user experience—for both users of the site and internal users of the system. Core to the strategy was creating a new content model for the product content and establishing the new system as a single source of truth. This new data model would then be used to support not just the main website but also e-commerce and mobile applications as well as distributor and global partner websites in future phases.

Sitecore was selected for this purpose to support the complex content types and relationships as well as marketing-driven needs in the areas of content delivery and personalization.

Connective DX rearchitected, redesigned, and replatformed onto Sitecore and built a custom product management application focused on supporting these foundational elements:

A custom-designed administrative interface with an author experience that allowed product managers, scientists, and marketing folks to easily manage product data A content reuse strategy that allowed NEB to change content in one place instead of dozens for making simple product changes A content strategy to enable multifaceted categorization and presentation of hundreds of product types and hundreds of options within those types A content model and structured data system that enforced data consistency across complex products Simplified workflow to streamline the publishing process

With the product data model and publishing workflow in place, the teams worked to integrate the site with a new e-commerce platform; the Google search appliance; and other custom applications, including dynamic charting and individual preference tools. The power of the new platform was not simply being able to store and manage all of this complex content but its ability to dynamically assemble content in the right context and deliver it to customers across many digital touchpoints.

The new website performs

The redesigned experience placed a major emphasis on customer engagement and revenue goals. The information architecture work focused on improving overall wayfinding with user-driven options to indicate favorites and a new bookmarking widget to enable faster, personalized navigation.

Powerful faceted search; comprehensive cross-referencing of existing and new materials such as application notes, tech tips, and protocols; and additional technical resources and web tools allow for improved and meaningful interactions on the new site.

Connective DX extended and integrated the user experience, product data, and the e-commerce platform for US sales. Thanks to the streamlined ordering process, customers can now order directly from their search results in addition to the product page.

Building on the foundation: expanding globally

Sitecore Enterprise Platform is NEB’s foundation for growth, both in the US and internationally. The experience is planned to extend internationally in the future, with Sitecore as a platform for overall online marketing communications and promotions.

And because customers are paramount to NEB’s business, the NEB and Connective DX teams are continually reviewing analytics and garnering user feedback to enhance the site’s user experience.

Connective DX services

  • User research
  • Digital strategy
  • Experience design
  • Content strategy and taxonomy
  • Sitecore architecture and development
  • Product catalog development
  • E-commerce integration with ShopVisible
  • Custom .NET development for navigation