Site Redesign: GFS.com

UX Research | Product Strategy | Product Design | Content Strategy
2018 - 2020

Overview

Gordon Food Service (GFS) is the largest family-owned and operated B2B food distribution company in North America. Founded in 1897, they currently operate across 50% of the United States and most of Canada. GFS works with independent restaurants operators, healthcare and education institutions, all the way up to major restaurant chains and many more.

Project Goals and Challenges

Goal: Evolve GFS/com from a templated outdate experience into a modern web experience that can support lead generation, content editing, and advertising activities.

Challenges: GFS.com had many stakeholders as it lacked ownership for many years, before coming under Digital Marketing for product management. Knowing this, it would become necessary to collaborate and gain alignment from stakeholders in Corporate Communications, Sales, Private Brands, and Marketing Services.

What We Know

1. Customers couldn't really see any value in the site.

"I don't really have a need for GFS.com. I just bookmarked the link for Online Ordering so I can sign in."
"I just use your homepage for the login. Might be nice to see some promotions though."
"I don't have much use for GFS.com, but you know what would be nice - a community forum. A place for customers to interact with one another."

2. Customers love the service and quality provided by Gordon Food Service. This part counts for a lot from an engagement and retention standpoint as a business.

Optimal Workshop was used to test site navigation.

Strategy Blueprint for the GFS.com product

Framing The Problem

Simply put, gfs.com had no discernible direction. A company's success is determined by its perception, reputation, trust and quality of services rendered. Without a centralized source of truth or guidance for this, that brand identity was not being conveyed through the site. As a result, customers were simply visiting gfs.com, bypassing any content and going straight to login to place their orders. This was a missed opportunity for a site that receives over 200,000 sites over the course of a year.

How do we make gfs.com more relevant and engaging from a value perspective?

Approach

Overhauling a company's website, essentially their front door, is no easy feat. Thankfully, this is something we committed to doing in a thoughtful and incremental manner. Analytics along with leveraging existing customer research was key. Additionally, working with my Product Manager (Head of Digital Marketing), we started to outline key strategy and process points.

  1. Standards would be created for new and existing content on the site to ensure that only the most beneficial and meaningful content was housed there.
  2. Content reduction. Food service operators first and foremost are often short on time. As such, existing written content would be edited down into shorter, more concise and valuable chunks. Any new content would follow this pattern as well.
  3. The site would be redesign with reusable components in mind. The goals here, was to set the framework so that content producers could create pages using documented CMS components.
  4. Lastly, we would let the data inform our decisions.

The journey matters...

My research, combined with analytics supported some of the steps that would follow. This user flow also takes into consideration three prime functions for the homepage.

(1) Funneling existing customers into our eCommerce platform via product ads.

(2) Funneling new customers down a new customer inquiry path.

(3) Funneling users into our product categories page which is one of the highest visited pages for GFS.com.

The homepage was one of the first pages to be overhauled and many iterations went into refining the final product.

Post-Launch

In the end, we've launched a website that is now much more simplistic, modern, and engaging. From a business perspective, the GFS Digital Marketing team now has a flexible, fluid, responsive site that allows them to promote product and content. Parts of this redesign supported and contributed to over $6 million in lead generative revenue and case sales tracked via analytics in 2019.

Additional Learnings

Supporting gfs.com taught me a lot about cross-functional partnerships outside of your direct digital or IT development scope. Overhauling this site required me as a Product Designer to engage with Corporate Communications, Private Brands leadership, partners on the sales and culinary development teams, and the Chemical & Beverage service division.

My Role

I was the end-to-end Product Designer for gfs.com. Over the two and a half years that I supported gfs.com, I performed user research, usability testing, journey and user flow mapping. I worked with counterparts to outline both product and content strategies for the site. Lastly, I partnered cross-functionally with both my Product Manager and Product Owner, along with our developers to implement front-end upgrades, reusable component based design in our CMS.