Ace Carbon Steel: A PVF eCommerce Business Success Story

Ace Carbon Steel A PVF eCommerce Business Success Story

The pipe, valve, and fitting (PVF) industry might not be robust. However, construction depends on PVF materials like flanges and fittings to connect all the pipes in a house, office, and even agriculture. 

The PVF industry has seen steady growth over the years. However, the PVF has found renewed growth in the eCommerce industry. For example, Digital Commerce 360 reports how a PVF distributor gained 42% of its 1 billion dollar revenue from eCommerce sales.

The PVF industry has greatly benefited from eCommerce sales. Today, we will examine one California-based PVF distributor, Ace Carbon Steel. We will track their journey into eCommerce on Shopify, their problems, and how they overcame these challenges to become a successful PVF eCommerce store.

Ace Carbon Steel: Taking The PVF Industry Into eCommerce

Ace Carbon Steel is a part of Ace Stainless, a company started in 1981. However, the biggest roadblock came in the form of the 2020 pandemic. Low demand saw the distributor risking closing down with no exit plans. That is when industry veterans Ed Long and Tom Murphy got together to buy the company.

Both Long and Murphy saw potential in the single Ace Stainless warehouse. They were able to supercharge the business, streamline business operations, and revitalize a dying business within the first year after acquiring the company. This is partly thanks to Long and Murphy’s vision for the PVF industry: focus on handling the customers’ needs through eCommerce.

Transforming Ace Stainless Steel Through eCommerce

Ed Long and Tom Murphy saw the potential in developing an eCommerce website for Ace Stainless. The eCommerce business would bring more visibility to the products while showcasing the entire product catalog to customers. Vendors saw increased sales, and Ace Stainless distribution was booming.

Long and Murphy’s focus was always on delivering a customer-first experience. They wanted to make the website navigation as easy as possible. Even though I was new to eCommerce, the fulfillment process was the same, like via email or phone. So, the website’s main aim was to create a place for customers to buy fittings and pipes as quickly as they wanted. The extensive catalog, which is easily accessible, was the driving force behind the increased sales for Ace Stainless.

Since the eCommerce website’s success, Ace Stainless wanted to expand into selling carbon steel products instead of just stainless steel. That is where Ace Carbon Steel was created on the eCommerce platform Shopify. 

Ace Carbon Steel Product Listing and Categories

Currently, Ace Carbon Steel sells fittings and flanges. Here are the different products that Ace Carbon Steel sells on its Shopify-powered website: 

Ace Carbon Steel Product Listing Fittings And Flanges

These are the available fittings:

  • Cap
  • Concentric Reducer
  • Cross
  • Eccentric Reducer
  • Long Radius 180 Degree Bend
  • Long Radius 45o Degree Elbow
  • Long Radius 90o Degree Elbow
  • Reducing Tee
  • Short Radius 180o Degree Bend
  • Short Radius 90o Degree Elbow
  • Straight Tee
  • Stub End

These are the flanges available on Ace Carbon Steel:

  • Blind
  • Lap Joint
  • Reducing Slip-On
  • Reducing Thread
  • Slip-On
  • Socket Weld
  • Threaded
  • Weld Neck

All these come in various sizes and are available when viewing the products. Ace Carbon Steel also has 3 categories of fittings and flanges that are imported, domestic, and approved:

Ace Carbon Steel Product Category For Fittings And Flanges

However, selling on Shopify differed significantly from Ace Carbon Steel’s eCommerce website. 

3 Problems Ace Carbon Steel Faced On Shopify

Ace Stainless always puts the customers first. That is what they wanted to do with Ace Carbon Steel as well. The problem came in 3 combined parts: variants showing on one product page, letting customers choose how much each variant they want, and adding all to the cart with one click.

Variants Showing On One Product Page

Ace Carbon Steel has 3 different categories for each product. These are the import, domestic, and approved categories. These are known as variants of the same products in e-commerce. On Shopify, it is possible to show up to 3 different variants, so Ace Carbon Steel has no problem with its 3 variants. But if they wanted to have more than 3 in the future, then Shopify’s native options are insufficient.

Choosing Specific Variant Quantity

The second problem for Ace Carbon Steel would be letting customers choose the amount of each variant they want to buy. Again, this is a problem as Shopify does not have a customized display layout for variants. To do this, Ace Carbon Steel would need to hire a Shopify web developer to customize the theme for a custom variant display where customers can choose how much each variant they want. After investing in one in-house eCommerce website, Ace Carbon Steel opted for Shopify to avoid such a headache.

Adding All Variant To Cart With One Click

Ace Carbon Steel wants customers to have a hassle-free shopping experience. So, if customers have to add all the variants one by one with multiple button presses, the shopping experience feels monotonous. This has chances for increased cart abandonment for the eCommerce store. Instead, Ace Carbon Steel wants customers to add all different variants to the cart with one button click. But again, the same problem arises where Ace Carbon Steel would need skilled web developers to do just that.

Combining All Three Problems At Once

All three problems seem like individual problems. But they are all connected and make for one big problem that Ace Carbon Steel has to solve. Ed Long And Tom Murphy know that their customer-first approach is how they will get sales. However, if the shopping experience does not match their catalog, their eCommerce website will not succeed. 

Being successful in eCommerce means ensuring customers are happy with their shopping experience. But these problems mean Ace Carbon Steel had a tall task to fix these issues. 

How MultiVariants Helped Solve Ace Carbon Steel’s Shopify Problems

The great thing about Shopify is access to the Shopify app store. Here, Ace Carbon Steel shop owners have access to apps to help address these problems. And the solution to all 3 issues was the MultiVariants Bulk Order app.

Let’s see how exactly MultiVariants solved Ace Carbon Steel’s problems with an example from their product page: 

Ace Carbon Steel Shopify Store Using MultiVariants Bulk Order App Customized Variant Display One Click Add To Cart Feature

You can see how Ace Carbon Steel has a customized variant display option for this particular product. The import, approved, and domestic variants are displayed on one page instead of multiple pages. Customers can choose the quantity for each variant with the plus and minus buttons. Customers can see how much each variant will cost with increasing amounts. Additionally, customers can see which products are stocked with the in-stock badge.

So, how did all of this solve Ace Carbon Steel’s problems? First, the customized variant display allows Ace Carbon Steel to show all variants on one product page. Customers don’t have to switch between product pages to view the variants and focus more on selecting the quantities they want of the particular variant. 

That is where the second problem is solved as well. Customers don’t have to move between product pages to choose quantities for each variant. They can select the amount on the product page, streamlining the shopping experience.

The final problem is solved as customers first make a choice and then add all the products to the cart with one button press. Customers no longer have to add variants and make choices on the cart or checkout pages. The app handles everything to allow customers the best possible experience.

In addition, customers also get to view prices of the different variant quantities while they shop. This allows customers to make better purchasing decisions and not change quantities at the end of their shopping. This helps reduce cart abandonment and encourages customers to finalize their purchase. Also, the in-stock badge tells customers if the product is available.

So, the MultiVariants Bulk Order app has solved all of Ace Carbon Steel’s problems while running an eCommerce business on Shopify. It even helped them in other ways to enhance Ace Carbon Steel’s customer-first business model. With just one app, Ace Carbon Steel solved all their problems and benefited even more for their customers. 

Bottom Line

From seeing a 40-year business almost go out of business in 2020 to having record profits by the start of 2022, Ace Stainless and Ace Carbon Steel’s customer-centric eCommerce approach is a welcome sight in the PVF industry. Where others would take a more cautious approach, Ed Long and Tom Murphy made intelligent investments in eCommerce, found passionate personnel, and succeeded in their approach. eCommerce is still new for the PVF industry, but Ace Carbon Steel proves it is possible on Shopify. 

Get MultiVariants from Shopify App Store