For Benjamin Moore & Co., producing paint is about bringing homes and communities together, one brushstroke at a time.
Founded in Brooklyn in 1883 and currently headquartered in Montvale, NJ, the American manufacturer of premium and commercial paints, stains, and other architectural coatings has long been renowned for superior quality and vibrant colors.
As a modern chemical enterprise, Benjamin Moore also prizes innovation and design as two guiding principles. Transforming the interior design of its own technology landscape has been a particular point of focus and pride for the company in recent years. Benjamin Moore first implemented SAP ECC companywide in 2015. Subsequently, Benjamin Moore successfully digitized its B2B and B2C platforms, also migrating its Retailer Gateway to SAP Commerce Cloud.
Joe Peraino, Director of the SAP Center of Excellence at Benjamin Moore, refers to this three-part transformation journey as a “digital hat trick” that accelerated the company’s evolution into a more IT and security-focused operation.
Peraino speaks to ASUG about the transformation ahead of the ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Chemicals conference (June 21–22, in The Woodlands, TX; register here), at which he’ll discuss upgrading Benjamin Moore’s online commerce solutions across the board.
Overcoming B2B Transformation Challenges
In 2017, Benjamin Moore began its commerce journey with a project to digitally transform its B2B National Account Partnership Program, through which the company sells to large retail customers. “For all the colors those brands utilize, we have special formulated colors to match their specifications,” he says.
One barrier to growth with the partnership program was the variety of avenues through which national account customers would buy paint; purchasing directors might personally contact local Benjamin Moore stores or outsource the process to corporate painters or external contractors. Enabling multiple national accounts to automate the paint-ordering process through Benjamin Moore’s platforms required a less manual approach, especially because of the complex calculations required to factor in rebates, special pricing, and reimbursement of the independent retailers typically tasked with order fulfillment.
And so, the company sought to leverage SAP Commerce Cloud (then called SAP Hybris) to digitize this business process, overcoming challenges along the way as a result of the several different purchase paths involved and a complex set of customers’ ship-to, sell-to, and bill-to relationships. One significant challenge, Peraino recalls, was building Benjamin Moore’s product catalog for the first time digitally and integrating its color technology and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems with SAP ECC to create e-commerce-friendly stock keeping units (SKUs) and product detail pages.
“Benjamin Moore paint is typically manufactured in a base product, and it’s tinted at the store level,” Peraino explains. “We have 3,500 colors, all available in just about every product, so making our catalog available to national account customers meant getting those SKUs onto SAP Commerce Cloud. We ended up creating custom SKUs in SAP ECC, combining the base product and size with the color; representing each combination of color and product for our entire product line meant creating 1.5 million SKUs.”
Benjamin Moore leveraged SAP Open Catalog Interface (OCI) technology to complete this initial data load. After integrating SKUs through SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) into SAP Commerce Cloud, to ensure any information consumers saw was available on Benjamin Moore’s website, consumers could select products and colors and then proceed to checkout. Enabling consumers to input credit cards and taxes to be calculated required integration via the SAP PI/PO cloud application programming interface.
Beginning its B2B platform implementation in the fall of 2017, the company went live in early 2019, partly because the project marked Benjamin Moore’s first time deploying dual project rails for its SAP ECC and Commerce Cloud environments.
“We had a whole, duplicated environment where we did all the work, and when we went live, we merged all that code into production,” Peraino says. “That was a new challenge for Benjamin Moore, having to deploy two N+1 rails for system environments to ensure all our systems stayed up and running and that none of the development impacted any of the other systems.”
Streamlining B2C Operations
Even prior to implementing SAP ECC companywide in 2015, Benjamin Moore began exploring digital B2C commerce, implementing a “completely manual” B2C platform in 2010.
“When a consumer placed an order online, we received it at Benjamin Moore and manually put the order into the system,” Peraino recalls. “We then shipped the product to the customer or sent it to a store for pickup. The process was rather disjointed, and retailers had difficulty understanding when they were going to get paid for their invoices.”
As COVID-19 disrupted supply chains and threatened to slow down business operations further, streamlining this B2C process became a priority for Benjamin Moore. A four-month accelerated project to do so “dramatically improved the sales performance and performance of consumers being able to purchase on our website,” he says.
The B2C platform transformation also added value for retailers through automated event notifications that enabled them to accept and fulfill orders, so customers could be charged and alerted to pick up orders within three business hours. Other challenges overcome included automating the reimbursement process for retailers, credit card processing integration, and integration to SAP ECC for sales orders, tax, and accounting while utilizing SAP CPI for real-time interfaces.
Modernizing the Retailer Gateway
Benjamin Moore’s third digital transformation—started in January of 2021 and completed that November—involved migrating its retailer portal (now the Retailer Gateway) from a WebLogic platform with security vulnerabilities to SAP Commerce Cloud.
The Gateway provides retailers with visibility of almost all critical information from Benjamin Moore, allowing them to download invoices and statements, view purchase histories, complete training courses, and set up employees with access. Independent retailers use the Gateway to update store hours for Benjamin Moore’s store locator. At the same time, master data information from SAP ECC is also stored there and propagated to other digital properties.
“Efforts were focused on building integrations and mapping what we had already integrated on the prior platform to ensure those integration points were still there,” Peraino says. Coordinating the DevOps team’s sprint deployments with ECC work efforts, integration with B2B and B2C fulfillment payments, and resolving data issues related to retailer contact information were all necessary for this migration to succeed.
Accelerating the Speed of Success
With all three of these transformations complete, Benjamin Moore is seeing substantial improvements to its business operations. The company’s previous e-commerce platform limited its ability to offer customer promotions, but recent B2C promotions have been extremely successful.
“If you looked at our daily order volume, we more than doubled our average daily order count,” Peraino says. “Our daily order counts average 320–370, and with the promotion, they went up to 800; on the promotion’s last day, we had 1,500 orders come in.”
Still, he remains committed to what’s next. “Now, we continue to improve on all of these efforts,” Peraino says. “We continue to move them forward, to make continued tweaks to improve the customer experience. We get feedback from our retailers; we map and understand how many users are on there and where they’re going, looking at the page views to understand where they're spending the most time and where they’re getting the most value out of the Retailer Gateway.”
Peraino adds that Benjamin Moore’s modernization efforts have strengthened its position as a “resilient chemical enterprise,” the attributes of which were tested throughout the pandemic, as the company contended with supply chain disruption that limited its ability to get raw materials.
From identifying alternative sources of raw materials in the marketplace to finding non-traditional ways of shipping products, Peraino says that “being agile and flexible enough to adjust every day as a new curveball was thrown at us” proved that Benjamin Moore is more technologically equipped today than ever to tackle emerging business challenges.
Peraino, who will celebrate 23 years at Benjamin Moore this November, reflects that the company has become “nimbler and more knowledgeable about toolsets and how to leverage SAP” throughout its recent transformation efforts. “We’ve taken great pains to align and keep things current on our platforms,” he says, noting that his team has gained particularly invaluable experience with SAP CPI.
“Overall, it’s been about teamwork,” he says. “Everybody working together to drive toward the results the business is looking for is what really helps set us apart from other companies and what we had done in the past.”