Shaping Keurig's B2B Experience

Our approach to designing the future of B2B commerce.

We've worked with several notable brands to design and launch direct-to-consumer eCommerce experiences and we've learned that it's never an eCommerce challenge as much as it is a business transformation challenge. Brands that think it's just as easy as launching an eCommerce site and calling it a day are going to be set up for disappointment...but...brands that see the real opportunities and challenges can chart a course for a new D2C channel that can reshape the future of your business.

For Keurig, we were brought in as a design partner, but our ability to look deeper into the business and our experience with other B2B businesses helped us become a valuable partner in addressing some of the common pitfalls of brand that introduce D2C channels:

D2C Challenge

Navigating distributor relationships can be tricky

What happens when you choose to sell direct-to-consumer alongside traditional distributor channels? Well, your distributors (the folks responsible for the other 95% of your sales) see you as a competitor and, oftentimes, threaten to pull your product from the shelves. We've seen this time and time again. This dynamic can create a lot of internal tension between traditional sales teams and setting up your business for new ways of working years down the road.

D2C Challenge

Manufacturers need to learn how to be a marketers

Engineering and marketing cultures are almost diametrically opposed in how they see problems and solutions. One is pragmatic and rational, the other deals in perception and emotional-based selling (we'll let you guess which is which). When manufacturing cultures start selling direct to consumers, they need to unlearn the distributor model and be open to what it means to build relationships and loyalty directly with customers. It's a cultural shift that needs to start from the top.

D2C Challenge

Competing on price and convenience is a difficult proposition to own

Price and convenience matter to distributor networks, but they become less of a differentiator in selling direct unless you have a sustainable advantage in price competitiveness. Very few businesses do – especially in an Amazon-dominated world. Instead of relying on what's worked in the past, product brands need to seek new avenues for competitive differentiation such as focusing on a niche or delivering a premium offering. This can be a really difficult corner to turn for engineering cultures that place high value on functional benefits, bottomline efficiencies, and traditional formulas that anyone can understand.

Why buy direct from Keurig instead of Amazon?

This was our starting point. We believe every consumer challenge should be seen through the lens of a brand challenge. And in this effort, Amazon is the dominant force that we need to address. We worked closely with Keurig's brand team to identify what Keurig could do better than anyone else, dial it up to eleven, and use it to shape a multi-year vision...


Building Keurig's Northstar Vision

Creating an industry leading B2B commerce experience isn't a simple effort. From operations to sales – getting this experience right requires all teams to take a step back and have a vision for what they're all working towards. For this approach, we use our Northstar Methodology as an approach to co-create the vision across teams and develop an integrated roadmap that helps them get there.

Along the way we'll test our ideas with customers, bring stakeholders into a room to align on the problem, and work with them to co-create the solution.

We invented an experience that was uniquely Keurig

Keurig has something the Amazon's of the world could never have, an authority on coffee. We tapped deep into office coffee culture to learn what would make the experience special and designed tools and experiences that dialed it up to eleven.

Office Collections

We designed Keurig-exclusive Office Collections that help office managers set the right tone for life at work.

Design Your Space

Tapping into Keurig's expertise, our plan design tool recommends the right office set up.

Telling Keurig's Sustainability Story

We're elevating Keurig's renewed commitment to sustainability as part of the bid process.

Distributor Partnership Opportunities

Win-win opportunities for distributors are key to an easier D2C rollout.

The vision was a win-win for Keurig and their distributors

It wasn't just enough to deliver a great consumer vision. We also developed a strategy that balanced the needs of Keurig, their customers, and their distributors. By working closely with the sales team, we were able to define partnership opportunities and a "sales kit" that enabled sales members to have positive conversations around the future of Keurig's D2C program.

We helped shape the vision and multi-year program

Getting to a collaborative, unified vision was necessary to help us define customer-centered needs and requirements. From there, we followed up with a rigorous process to prioritize our work and define the multi-year roadmap that brought "Life at Work" to life.

Consumer grade is the new commercial grade

Even in the business world, user and buyer expectations are informed by their digital consumer experiences with brands like Amazon, Google, and even Chick-Fil-A. The reality is that when it comes to creating digital B2B experiences and products that help people work better together, just "making it work" isn't enough – a proper user experience and product strategy are necessary to help shape experiences and platforms that are useful, usable, and noteworthy.

D2C Challenge

Prototyping the Field Service Experience

B2B relationships are much more dependent on servicing than their consumer counterparts. Keurig is no different. Whether we're talking about big office buildings, campus locations, or hospitals – servicing the hundreds of brewers that need installation, cleaning, replacing, and restocking requires a level of service that only Keurig can deliver.

The field service app was designed to make this job more proactive and efficient by providing a mobile experience and dashboard for field servicing to reps to manage fleets of brewers. Including this service experience as part of the sales experience was also a benefit that helped differentiate Keurig over others.

Branded Service as a differentiator

For us, websites and apps don't matter – what does matter is how these things improve the lives of people using them – and that was our focus. It was important that we started with the brand connection and customer pain points, then pushed deeper to define requirements, ways of working, and technology solutions that best supported employees, customers, and the Keurig brand.

Connecting Data and Commerce

Based largely in part on our other work with Keurig Commercial, we identified a connection between data and commerce that helped transform the service experience into a marketing platform. Through a data-driven rep dashboard, we could arm the sales team with consumption habits to help provide proactive and personalized service.

Getting ahead of tech with user-centered requirements

There was work to do upfront since it started as an IT-driven effort that largely prioritized business and technology needs over user-centered requirements. Mostly through our use of prototyping and workshops, we were able to get ahead of the process and ensure that user-validated requirements were part of the product roadmap from the start.

The Result: A premium brand experience that only Keurig could deliver

Profile Photo: Ryan Mulloy
About the Experience Design Lead

Ryan Mulloy, Head of Experience Design

Ryan leads our experience design practice and has led engagements for some of the biggest brands in food and beverage – including brands like Keurig, Dunkin’, Toast, Panera, Bai Beverages, and more.

Connect with Ryan