As one of the top cement producers in the world, CEMEX SAB de CV creates building materials and services for customers across four continents. But even giants like CEMEX, headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, recognise that in a digital world, they must provide a modern, personalised experience to customers.

CEMEX began its digital transformation three years ago by analysing how technology could help engage customers more effectively. According to Ricardo Chapa, head of Digital Architecture and Emerging Technologies, “When we began our digital transformation, our top management realized that we excel in creating high-quality products efficiently. But at the same time, they recognised that we needed to be better at dealing with our customers.”

Selling primarily to large construction companies, CEMEX wanted to offer a top-notch B2B eCommerce solution. To start, the company mapped the customer journey and identified customer pain points. That exercise — combined with design thinking sessions and agile development based on feedback from customers and business leaders — led the company to create CEMEX Go.

“We developed CEMEX Go from scratch. It’s a cloud-based e-commerce solution completely tailored to our customers’ needs,” Chapa explained. CEMEX Go was created to address customers’ complex and often very specific requirements for the construction market. The platform is now used globally and processes around 60 percent of customer orders — and that number is growing.

In 2001, CEMEX created Construrama, the largest network of retail stores for building materials in Mexico and other Latin American countries where CEMEX has a presence. The Construrama network was developed to strengthen CEMEX distributors, support local hardware store owners, and expand the company’s presence in the construction industry. Through the network, CEMEX can sell products to individuals doing construction projects; however, the company realized it needed to modernise the online experience and create digital offers for the network.

To jump start the network’s e-commerce strategy, CEMEX selected SAP Commerce Cloud, part of the SAP C/4HANA solution portfolio. With the solution, store owners within the network now have an online presence they did not have previously and can reach more buyers.

The site was launched in just four months and has been live since 2017. To scale the project, the company launched a pilot in Guadalajara then added new features every few weeks, eventually rolling it out across the country. The new digital network has increased customer convenience and satisfaction.

Previously, orders were made via physical visits or telephone, and the customers did not have visibility into new products that stores might offer. Now, clients can see the complete catalogue and order products through the application. They can also have online conversations with an executive if they have questions. Moving forward, CEMEX wants to add a chatbot to assist customers with orders and other recurrent tasks. The IT team also used learnings from the B2B project to develop a B2C eCommerce application for Construrama, which went live last year.

The Construrama team reports that both the B2B and B2C sites have been working well, with sales increasing monthly. Moving forward, the team is implementing digital marketing tools. “We’re newly focused on digital marketing and we think that it will help us bring new customers to the portal,” Chapa said.

CEMEX has been long-time SAP customer and uses SAP ERP globally. The company updated its suite with SAP S/4HANA, based on in-memory database technology, in the Philippines and plans to use the lessons learned there to decide on its global strategy.

This article first appeared on the Global News Centre.