How do you transform your website in five months?

It’s possible. Just ask Acuity Brands. Andrew Crowder, VP of Enterprise Architecture at Acuity Brands and Coveo’s Lipika Brahma, customer success architect, recently gave a talk on Digital Marketing Depot explaining how Acuity Brands took a search-first approach to completely reimagine their website experience – in just five months from idea to go-live.

Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI) is the largest manufacturer of lighting and lighting control systems in North America, with about 5,000 product offerings across 8 different categories of products. The company goes to market through distributors and independent agents.

Lipika opened the webinar by discussing relevance. “B2B interactions today are getting consumerized, so it’s important to be just as relevant and personalized,” she explained, then pointed out that for manufacturing in particular, this is taking on increasing urgency. Each person has their own unique context, as well as an intent, that brands should use to inform what recommendations they provide to create a unique digital experience.

The Acuity Brands Challenge

Acuity Brands recognized the potential that their website had, and made redesigning the experience a top 5 priority for 2018. “We needed a website that really spoke to our status as a leader in the industry,” Andrew said. “We are definitely a leader from a product perspective and our website experiences need to reflect that.”

Internal research revealed that their customers are also using search as the first step in the journey, and it should be a priority to be simplified and streamlined. After conducting more extensive research with their website users, the team uncovered three major issues.

The team focuses on three major concepts to guide their relaunch:

  • Relevant shopping journeys through better search results
  • Effortless experiences through fast, reliable, and faceted search
  • Data-driven optimization of content and search paths

The very nature of Acuity Brands added another layer of complication to these challenges. With 32 brands under the Acuity Brands umbrella, in addition to 16 brand sites, it was a challenge to keep the consistency of content and data across multiple channels. In addition, Acuity Brands is international and wanted a native experience in every language. 

The internal search team also needed to be empowered with the data and insights they required to continue to refine the search experience – without having to go to the development team to apply.

Why Coveo and Sitecore

Acuity Brands used Sitecore as a content management system and Coveo as an insight engine. “Those technologies allowed us to build a new experience for our users that made their whole journey better and easier,” Andrew said. They combined the platforms to provide a simple solution for their complex challenges, as well as deliver on Acuity Brands’ goal to deliver a “best-in-class website” that mirrors their leadership in the industry. 

With one search index and one codebase across all of their different sites, Coveo and Sitecore tailored the content and experience for each user without compromising on consistency. Instead of managing 16 different codebases, it’s now one – and significantly easier to manage. 

The team focused on creating a product-forward, search-first experience on their website that met their customers’ expectations. Their new search experience: 

  • Optimizes for mobile and smaller monitor sizes. The results pages adjust for smaller screen sizes to make it easier to quickly scroll through the options.
  • Tailors to users’ intents and desired actions. Users often wanted to download product information files to compile for a bid for a project. Even the effort of going from a search page to a product page was too much. Putting a download button right on their search results page allowed users to take quick actions right from the results pages.
  • Gives users control of the viewing experience. With multiple options for facets and views, each user could drill down to create the exact search experience they wanted. A user looking for inspiration, for example, may want to see a lot of products per page that they can scroll through, as opposed to someone trying to find information about a specific product.

The Results 

Acuity Brands has data confirming the success of its project with growing increases in click-through and a decrease in No Results.

Their journey to creating a best-in-class website showcases how powerful search and recommendations can be to transform the digital experience, as well as solve the more complex architectural challenges that large, global brands have with their website. You can find out more about Acuity’s journey, and their approach by watching the full webinar with Andrew and Lipika.

Watch the webinar replay
B2B Site Search Best Practices