How this industrial supplies retailer used marketing automation to keep up with customers


When Covid first hit, essential business services and products company, Bunzl, knew its need to elevate email marketing with up-to-date personalised messaging had suddenly become urgent.

Delivering goods in the topsy-turvy world of Covid lockdowns was difficult for most businesses. But Bunzl’s huge range encompassing cleaning, hygiene, healthcare, hospitality, food processing, packaging, as well as industrial and safety goods and services was highly relevant to Covid and therefore more pressured than most.

With an inventory of 20,000 key units online and another 20,000 items including customised products, plus customers and warehouses across A/NZ, Bunzl presents as a one-stop shop for business essentials. The company had used the Lite version of ActiveCampaign’s email automation since 2014 before Bunzl’s head of marketing and ecommerce, Fiona Corsie, joined the firm. As Covid forced the mass transition to remote living and working in different areas at different times, she realised upgrading to the next level of personalised marketing automation would be critical on more than one front.

“As a B2B, we work on a long sales cycle and are aware of typical customer orders and timing. But because of the environment we were suddenly in, with states coming in and out of lockdowns, that all changed,” Corsie said. “One day you’d be considering, ‘Do we have too many face masks?’. Within two days, we’d be asking: ‘Have we enough face masks?’.”

Reacting to news of lockdowns and trying to pre-empt orders meant Bunzl had to be on top of evolving public health news, clients’ likely stock, last orders and likely imminent needs.

“You also needed to communicate so quickly. If I wrote a press release in the afternoon and it got approved that night to distribute the next morning – by then it was old news,” Corsie said. “We had to become immediate, with a sense of urgency about servicing the customer.”

Corsie knew a marketing automation platform based on good CRM and segmentation tools to integrate with Bunzl’s enterprise resource manager (ERP) would make the most of its client data. Bunzl’s ERP already segmented customers, including down to verticals nuances such has healthcare, aged care, independent and government.

Email marketing emphasis

The relevance of emails was increasingly important not only externally for fast-tracking supplies, orders and deliveries but also because so few people were doing business in-person. Lack of face-to-face meetings also meant CRM data on customers’ journeys was more important to salespeople.


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