October 25, 2023
Johnson Controls is a world leader in smart buildings, creating safe, healthy and sustainable spaces. For nearly 140 years, from the first ever electric thermostat to powering sustainable buildings with AI, JCI is focused on making buildings better.
The following article was written by Janet Englehart, Ecommerce Director at Johnson Controls. It looks at how Janet and her team have leveraged Adobe Commerce to push JCI forward. In fiscal year 2023, they saw a 64% increase in returning customer orders, 45% increase in new customer orders, +21% average order size, 19% conversion rate and +14% in revenue. Here’s how:
Joining the heartbeat of HVAC
In 2013, I dove into the world of Adobe Commerce (previously Magento), while I was engaged with a key competitor to Johnson Controls (JCI) in their Factory Direct Distribution (FD) division. This venture introduced me to the heartbeat of the HVAC industry and its professionals: the technicians or “contractors.”
Traditionally, the HVAC distribution channel had been sluggish in adopting the latest digital tools. My mandate? Leverage my knowledge of all things digital to pinpoint challenges for contractors and pave a digitalized pathway to streamline their interactions.
Recognizing the Adobe Commerce advantage
Adobe Commerce had already been selected as the ecommerce platform of choice before I arrived. Yet, its capabilities resonated with me instantly. In a whirlwind year, we melded Adobe Commerce with a fresh PIM (Product Information Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). Considering our intricate backend mechanisms, this rapid-fire integration marked a colossal win. Adobe Commerce’s API-first blueprint breathed life into our vision of digital automation.
Its adaptability empowered us to mold a user interface that mirrored our clients’ expectations. We were able to innovate industry-specific features and activate them to cater to our unique clientele. The upshot? Within six months of its launch, a staggering 27% of the region’s accounts under my stewardship engaged with this platform, drawn by its intuitive design and real-time data metrics.
Helping our JCI contractors succeed with Adobe Commerce
Flash forward to 2016, and I helped JCI’s migration of their Factory Direct Distribution arm (here on, "FD").
Users could find products, pricing, and place orders but the backend operation was still 100% manual. Despite their old-school ecommerce platform, I could clearly envision Adobe Commerce’s potential in rejuvenating their system.
In under a year, with limited resources, we rolled out an Adobe Commerce ecosystem, anchored by 39 sub-domains (now 46, with 10 more on the horizon within the next 12 months). These sub-domains bridged ecommerce with physical store experiences. Adobe Commerce’s expertise bolstered our contractor services, enabling me to spearhead and deliver avant-garde features, while significantly amplifying our ROI.
Technical considerations for Adobe Commerce
Over time, Adobe Commerce has been unwavering in its evolution, consistently championing an ecommerce platform that is nimble, customizable, and boundless. JCI stands to benefit immensely from Adobe Commerce’s Global Reference Architecture (GRA), which harmonizes core functionalities across business units while preserving the room for individual customization.
JCI’s commitment to hosting Adobe Commerce within its infrastructure has been strategic, allowing for seamless real-time transactions, especially vital for FD's retail-oriented model. Within JCI's network, payment processes are streamlined, ensuring swift performance metrics. While migrating to the Cloud has many benefits, we still must consider why we utilize our own managed infrastructure for deploying customer facing applications.
A key Adobe Commerce upside for JCI is its open-source code. It offers a canvas for developers to reimagine without meddling with foundational systems. This unhindered access creates a proxy API that champions real-time ecommerce dynamics and facilitates third-party customer engagements directly with FD.
User experience considerations for Adobe Commerce
The UI/UX and functional customizations are key when you talk about taking a single GRA for JCI. Adobe Commerce’s PAAS makes a big difference for JCI’s success by:
deploying business features that contractors expect such as pre-matches AHRI systems, documents & resources,
and allowing contractors to manage their accounting invoice and statements, customed one- page checkout, all of which can be done with Adobe Commerce.
Another Channel my team supports for Digital Commerce is National Accounts. National Accounts is unique in that our customers need to order online on behalf of not just one but multiple National Accounts. We have to pull inventory feeds from multiple Distributors customers of JCI not just FD. Adobe Commerce is the only platform I know of that is flexible enough to gather, store and manage this data across a channel. It would take a significant amount of time, maybe years, and an unthinkable amount of funding to achieve this on other platforms.
Leveraging the past, designing for the future.
As Bradley “‘Rooster’” Bradshaw famously said in Top Gun: Maverick, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.” you must have a seasoned and experienced pilot to execute important missions such as this one for JCI, but you also need one heck of a good airplane.
Based on my extensive experience implementing Adobe Commerce in enterprise B2B ecommerce environments, it is my belief that Adobe Commerce offers JCI the greatest opportunity to take our learnings from previous successful engagements for FD and leverage them to deploy a best of breed GRA that allows for JCI to deploy bespoke ecommerce environments for each business without limiting their ability to meet end customer needs or create technical redundancy.
Achieving dominance in the ecommerce HVAC industry has been easy over the years using Adobe Commerce.
Here’s a flavor of some of our results to-date for fiscal year 2023 (YOY):
+21% average order size
~30% average margin (compared to 22-24% for brick & mortar)
19% conversion rate
64% increase in returning customer order
45% increase in new customer orders
Want to talk about how JCI’s success story could be relevant for you? Contact the Valtech team.