Sean Kramer, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at SiteOne Landscape Supply on the company’s approach to digitalization, industry trends and COVID-19...
Sean Kramer, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at SiteOne Landscape Supply, started his career at the company in 2014. “I have been with the company for six years. I joined the company when it was John Deere Landscapes. John Deere Landscapes was sold to a private equity firm in 2013. As part of the transaction the company needed to rebrand, and so SiteOne Landscape Supply was officially established in 2015. Today, we are a publicly traded company with a billion dollars in revenue and 550 locations.”
Prior to his career at SiteOne Landscape Supply, Kramer worked for eight years at Fiat Chrysler (FCA) supporting the company’s public websites and its technology infrastructure. After leaving FCA, Kramer joined Volkswagen Group of America, where he worked for six years supporting enterprise applications, internal software systems, infrastructure and operations.
SiteOne’s approach to digital innovation and transformation
When it comes to digital innovation and transformation, Kramer says the company’s core focuses include customer experience, operational excellence, systems efficiency and security.
“The first is around customer experience and operational excellence in the branch and how we achieve those,” says Kramer. “First and foremost it’s safety, especially in the current climate, and ensuring that we have the inventory on hand that the customers need.”
Kramer adds that when it comes to digital innovation and transformation, “it’s about how we can use technology to achieve this. We have developed a new mobile point of sale application with our partner Stratix. Recently, this application has been vital in maintaining social distancing. With our new mobile point of sale, customers arrive at our branches and our associates can greet them as they pull up. Our SiteOne associates can open an order on this system, adding the products they need, pull the order and send the customer on their way to the job. It's done safely and efficiently.”
While this application has been a vital tool for the company, Kramer explains that the company still has plans to improve it further. “While the application has several enhancements planned for future use, it has played a vital role in keeping our associates safe,” he says.
In addition to its mobile point of sale, the company also has plans in the pipeline for siteone.com. Kramer says they will look to continue to evolve and develop the system to make it easier to search for products and place an order online, as well as develop a recommendation engine for customers based on their location and purchase history.
“We also want to make the system easier to transact online, especially for our customer’s back-office processes through enabling them to pay their bills online seamlessly and with clear visibility over their transaction history,” he adds.
In addition to customer experience and its mobile application, SiteOne Landscape Supply is looking to further improve its systems efficiency, operations and security.
“We continuously work on developing internal security training programs and increasing the technology footprint to stay ahead of the threats that are out there in the market,” states Kramer. “But we are also trying to make it easier for our suppliers to do business with us. Here at SiteOne, we want to be the distributor of choice for all the suppliers in the landscape industry. Right now, our team is working to introduce new solutions, such as ramping up robotic process automation (RPA), enhancing our optical character recognition (OCR) and launching a vendor portal. The aim of these initiatives is to increase the efficiency and transparency of doing business with SiteOne.”
When working to drive such innovation and transformation in an organization, Kramer explains the importance of having the right culture in order to be successful.
“It’s very important,” he states. “The team of leaders that we have bring experience implementing these types of new solutions from their experience in other organizations and know the potential pitfalls and successes. I believe that the culture they bring to our company has been critical for us to support our growing business. My leadership team consistently goes above and beyond.”
Historically, Kramer highlights that technology is starting to take a foothold in the landscape industry. “We see more and more customers use technology to run their business and SiteOne is working to offer a constantly improving customer experience. Technology is at the core of that. In the last few years we have seen technology usage from our customers ramp up quite a bit. With our technology know-how and our team of innovators, I think we can offer new solutions that can help our customers. We are reaching out and collaborating with many different companies in the technology space to make this possible and discuss the changes in the industry.”
Over the years, SiteOne has become an analytical company, putting more emphasis on understanding market trends. “As we continue to grow, we look at our customers by their specialty so that we can better understand how to support them with product needs, replacements and recommendations,” says Kramer. “We evaluate the line of business they operate within and geographic location closely to better understand how we can continue to help our customers grow in the industry.”
Kramer explains that the team values and philosophy is a key to the success of his technology group. “We take pride in our company culture. We are very collaborative, conduct our operations with high integrity, and are very humble. As we continue to grow our team, it’s important that new team members we bring on share the same vision.”
In addition to working with Stratix for its mobile point of sale application, SiteOne is collaborating with Fuze and V2 Soft. “Fuze is currently the phone system for all of our branches, while V2 Soft helped us to redesign our support platform for our project services application. This system is used to help our customers submit a design and take-off of materials for a job they are bidding. V2Soft has also helped as we have grown our QA service offering.”