Manufacturing sophisticated equipment and tools for designing, testing and optimizing high-end electronics systems used in aerospace, automotive, defense and other industries, Keysight Technologies Inc. has reached multibillion-dollar status and is still targeting ambitious international growth through self-service ecommerce and its distribution network.
Having choice of how to buy builds customer loyalty.
Kari Fauber, vice president, global sales and ecommerce
Keysight Technologies Inc.
“Customers want self-service digital buying for a larger portion of the buying process,” says Kari Fauber, vice president of global sales and ecommerce. In addition, “younger buyers also preferred less of the human touch and more of self-service ecommerce.”
Customers also want a simpler way to buy directly from Keysight as well as from the manufacturer’s distributors, she adds.
To address these concerns, Keysight launched last year its first digital commerce platform using headless commerce technology, which Fauber says offered the development flexibility to build what Keysight needed. The new ecommerce platform replaced prior forays into an online presence, including limited exposure on Amazon.com and a system of emailing links to customers for updating subscriptions to Keysight software products.
An ‘effortless purchasing experience’ across multiple channels
Keysight’s ecommerce strategy, Fauber says, is to provide “a multichannel transaction ecosystem that offers customers an effortless purchasing experience” through multiple ways to buy, including placing orders on Keysight.com to purchase directly from Keysight or from its distributors. “Having choice of how to buy builds customer loyalty,” she says.
Keysight’s new ecommerce platform must handle extensive integration with the company’s complex mix of back-end business software systems and its web content management system. In addition, the platform needs to support Keysight’s growing international online market presence in the Americas and 27 countries in Europe, offering 2-day delivery on many products and online access to technical experts.
Keysight’s corporate technology legacy made that integration a major challenge that headless commerce and its “API-first” design for integrating technology was designed to address, Fauber says. Using extensive APIs to integrate software applications, a headless platform provides an ecommerce engine that is independent of the customer-facing front end and the back-end business management software that support ecommerce sites. Companies deploying a headless platform use the APIs to connect their ecommerce engine to any front-end customer interface and back-end software to build a customized ecommerce site.
Managing a complex set of technology
Keysight, which launched as a company in 2014, is an outgrowth of the electronics technology pioneer Hewlett-Packard Co., which started out with electronic measurement equipment in the 1930s. As Keysight acquired other businesses, it expanded an already complex configuration of business technology systems inherited from HP and HP’s Agilent Technologies unit, from which Keysight had separated. “We had technology stacks 75-80 years in the making,” Fauber says.
Keysight had set ambitious growth plans coinciding with the trend in digital transformation, but its complex network of Oracle ERP systems and other technology had hampered its ability go more digital with commerce. That stifled efforts to grow as smoothly as expected through ecommerce and traditional sales channels—until recently, when Keysight moved ahead with its headless commerce strategy, Fauber says.
The headless commerce platform, from Elastic Path, came with a system of application programming interfaces, or APIs, that Keysight uses to connect the Elastic Path ecommerce engine with its many customized ERP systems and the Adobe Experience Manager content management system. As a headless platform, Elastic Path provides an ecommerce engine not already connected to a customer-facing front end or back-end ERP or other business operations software. Instead, it provides the extensive system of APIs to allow for connections between the ecommerce engine and customized front-end and back-end applications that can come from multiple vendors in a “best of breed” configuration.
Keysight could have opted for other ecommerce software to integrate with its Adobe system, but “Elastic Path worked better with Adobe Experience Manager and Oracle with the way we operate both systems,” Fauber says. She adds that the headless platform’s ability to integrate well with Keysight’s technology systems supported the manufacturer’s need to display accurate information on the complex set of specifications for its electronic testing and measurement products.
A typical product Buy page on Keysight.com provides customers the options to order directly from Keysight or one of its distribution partners, with information also provided on pricing, sales tax, inventory availability and delivery times. Buyers can also opt to request a new price quote from Keysight or one of its channel partners.
More benefits of headless technology
The headless platform’s APIs pull data from Keysight’s back-end software and channel partners to make that information available to customers, requiring less software development work than would be required under traditional ecommerce technology platforms, Keysight says.
Fauber says the new headless platform has proven helpful in other ways as well. Keysight relies heavily on offering online promotions tailored to customers’ interests, for example, and at one point it pushed the system too far and ran into problems getting the right promotions out. “We pushed the promotions system to the limit, and Elastic Path helped us modify it within days,” Fauber says, noting that modifications would have been more time-consuming under a conventional ecommerce platform.
Mark Wallace, senior vice president of global sales, cited Keysight’s recent investments as critical to helping the company drive double-digit growth in orders in the fiscal fourth quarter and year ended Oct. 31, 2021. “The investments we’ve made in sales and marketing and customer engagement is making a big difference,” he said on the company’s fiscal year-end earnings call. Keysight’s revenue for the 2021 fiscal year grew 17% year over year to $4.94 billion.
Going forward, Keysight will use its new ecommerce platform to expand cross-selling efforts and coordinate marketing and inventory management. “We’ll look at cart-adds and what marketing campaigns drive more awareness,” and change inventory to match demand, Fauber says.
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact editor Paul Demery at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pdemery.
Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new Digital Commerce 360 B2B News content is published.