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[Case Study] Upgrading to BigCommerce Stencil from Blueprint for a More Responsive Website

April 23, 2021 | |

Their Story

AFT Fasteners is a leading fastener and industrial supply distributor with decades of experience in the OEM, MRO, construction/engineering, and oilfield/petrochemical industries. Located in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area, they are committed to providing their customers with the best experience possible by offering a wide range of products and in-house services, highly knowledgeable staff, and highly competitive pricing. AFT serves both small businesses and large international corporations by offering low minimums as well as discounted bulk and mill-shipment pricing. 

Additionally, they are registered as a Single Site Quality Management System in conformance with ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D. As a distributor of over 500,000 standard and custom products, AFT Fasteners takes pride in customer service and going the extra mile to help find a solution to their customer’s sourcing needs.

AFT Fasteners Homepage

The Problem: Non-Responsive Site Design

Over the years, the BigCommerce platform has changed and made big advancements. Unfortunately for AFT Fasteners, they found themselves on the antiquated framework, Blueprint. Their website also had an outdated design. Their biggest problem was that their site was not responsive on mobile devices. 

Aside from providing a poor customer experience on mobile devices, AFT Fasteners was losing out on their SEO, with the advent of Google’s algorithm update to a mobile-first indexing approach. While Google still crawls and uses Desktop to index older sites, they are progressively updating older websites to mobile-first indexing.

This site was first launched in 2014, when web design and development standards were much different. After the change in trends, they realized their sites responsiveness limitations were causing a loss in sales. 

“It’s’ best practice to plan on rebuilding your website every 3-4 years”

According to this standard, AFT Fasteners was almost double the suggested time frame. Unfortunately, they were beginning to experience the negative side effects of an outdated site and platform. 

Aside from the lack of responsiveness, their website was very cluttered. This can cause confusion to buyers and slow or even stop the sales process. As this can be deterring to customers, they wanted to address the issue head on.

The Solution: Custom Blueprint to Stencil Build

The best solution for their problem was to upgrade to BigCommerce Stencil with a custom designed website. Intuitsolutions offered a custom website design that would be fully responsive across all devices. The mobile site would be much more intuitive and user friendly, with prominent images on category call to action(CTA) cards to help users find what they’re looking for more efficiently.

Old Site, New Site, Mobile Site
Old Website, New Desktop Site, New Mobile Site

The old homepage was visibly cluttered with an abundance of products that fell below the fold. We helped the client consolidate these products into a handful of top level categories for easier navigation. The old design was very narrow, a design choice synonymous with older websites. New designs take full advantage of screen real estate by increasing the max width of all pages, which is exactly what we went with.

Product Details Page

AFT Fasteners requested that we keep and move over a few required elements, specifically on the product detail page. We were able to keep these elements present on the page, with minor updates and with little to no involvement or work required on their end. They needed to keep things such as the “note” to customers under images as a disclaimer that it is only a representation of the product to avoid confusion and customer service issues. The new design offers larger product detail page images, so customers can see details related to bolts, fasteners etc. without having to zoom or expand the image.

Custom Static Pages

AFT Fasteners also had an abundance of custom styled static page designs. We kept a similar design and moved them over with no work required from AFT Fasteners. These pages included a left side menu of custom static web pages, page spotlight with relevant photos, a specialized gallery, and a request a quote form.

Blueprint to Stencil

Blueprint is the old theme framework of BigCommerce and Stencil is the most recent replacement. Many are hesitant to make the switch, like AFT Fasteners was initially, but since BigCommerce announced they are ending support for Blueprint, it is a necessity. Without support for the website, one small issue could bring the whole ecommerce store down with no end in sight. This is one of the main reasons AFT Fasteners was ready to switch.

“Staying on Blueprint is like living in an old house that has wiring and plumbing that’s not up to code.”

Staying on Blueprint is like living in an old house that has wiring and plumbing that’s not up to code. For example, say you have an issue with a wire so you get an electrician to come look at it. They tell you that you need to have the whole house rewired as it’s not up to code, but in the meantime they can fix the wire. While that one wire may be fixed, and the house may seem stable, at any second a wire could spark and burn your entire house down.

Here are some of the top improvements Stencil offers: 

  • Faster Page Speed
  • Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Improved Accessibility for the hearing and sight-impaired
  • Upgraded Title and Alt tags for images site-wide
  • Advanced Rich Snippets and added markup
  • Better foundational SEO
  • Access to all add-ons, apps and integrations
  • Enhanced website responsiveness and customizability options
  • And more!

Additional Implementations

To enhance their website and user experience even more, AFT Fasteners wanted to implement a few add-ons and apps from IntuitSolutions and other other third-parties.

Reorder Button

From IntuitSolutions, we implemented our popular Quick Reorder Button. This allows customers to find previous orders, and add those products in bulk or individually directly to their carts. The Reorder Button also comes with a bonus feature – Popup Login. Combined, these add-ons provide previous customers with a very quick and easy repurchasing process.

Ship on Account
Purchase Order

Next, is our newest app, The Ebizio Checkout. For AFT Fasteners, Ebizio was a simple solution to provide their B2B customers with more checkout options. They utilize the Ship on Account, Purchase Order and Text Editor Modules. Ship on Account allows AFT Fasteners to add a shipping option at checkout for B2B customers to provide their own shipping provider and account. Purchase Order allows them to provide these same customers with a pay by PO account option at checkout. Text Editor allows them to customize their checkout text for a smooth flowing experience.   

Lastly, the new theme integrates well with InstantSearch +. This is a third-party application that controls the site’s search. It enhances the functionality beyond the naitive BigCommerce search functionality. We worked directly with the integration to ensure there were no bumps in the installation process.

The Results

After their launch on February 2nd, 2021, AFT Fasteners was ecstatic about their new website and ready to grow their business more than ever before. With the help of stencil, their new website is fully responsive and SEO ready. Their custom design helps them stand out from the competition while giving customers an easily navigable site. The add-ons and apps integrated help improve the sales pipeline by expediting the process from start to finish for B2B and B2C customers. 

Intuitsolutions’ works as an Elite BigCommerce Partner to complete projects like this for businesses of all sizes. Interested in upgrading from Blueprint to Stencil? Chat or call 866 901 4650 to speak with one of our Specialists today. Hurry, before your Blueprint site is no longer available

Kate joined IntuitSolutions in August 2019 as an SEO/PPC Specialist. She focuses on overall marketing and has a hand in many different projects. She started her career as a WordPress designer which directly brought her into the world of digital marketing. In her free time you can find her playing with her dog, exploring new restaurants in the area, and enjoying nature.

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