Wolseley is one of the UK’s leading plumbing heating, cooling and infrastructure specialists, whose aim is to be the first choice for trade customers across the country.

With over 500 UK branches and 400,000 products, Wolseley wanted to help their customers better manage their business before, during and after a job. It was also important for the online channel to complement the offline trade retail store experience. Furthermore, for independent tradespeople, time spent sourcing materials and managing business admin is time away from the job and lost money. Wolseley knew that fragmented and inefficient search and sourcing as well as purchasing processes were a major pain point for this audience in particular. In partnership with Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology they set about investing in a new digital platform.

“We set ourselves a mission two years ago to create a best-in-class website for our B2B customers, whether they are local one person heating engineers, or large national installation and repair businesses and with Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s help we have succeeded. Winning ‘Best B2B Site of the year’ and ‘Best Site Migration’ at the UK Dev Awards 2023 was the icing on the cake!”

Hannah Foley

Director of Digital Customer Experience, Wolseley UK


Wunderman Thompson Commerce focussed on developing a cutting edge B2B commerce platform to achieve three key aims:

  1. To complement the offline store
  2. To make the customer journey easier, shorter, and more accessible
  3. To deliver value to Wolseley customers by helping them find products and manage purchases more efficiently

Our strategy for delivering this outcome was built around three key areas:

  1. Replatforming to HCL v9, benefiting from a revamped site architecture to guarantee slick, high-speed performance
  2. AI-powered product search to help customers ‘Find It First Time'
  3. Improved accessibility, including simplified account opening and management, to make digital as appealing to customers as going into a branch

Let’s take a closer look at the key components of the programme:

Customer Journey Mapping

It was imperative that the new build should be based on an in-depth understanding of what Wolseley customers wanted to see from the new site. To that end, we initially undertook a customer journey mapping exercise to gather data on key user issues to address. The knowledge and further feedback from customers and Wolseley colleagues were used on an ongoing basis with the aim of developing a final product that was both centred on customer need and built using best-in-class solutions.

Replatforming to HCL v9 for a Headless Front-end

We undertook a full replatform of the existing commerce site using HCL v9. We based the build around a modern containerised architecture, building a headless front-end in React, to enable super-fast loading and response times. This was integral to the goal of delivering a slicker, more responsive CX, and to enable rapid feature releases in the future, while providing value to Wolseley’s customers by ensuring that, whatever they needed to do on the site, could be done fast – so they could get back to the job.

With the headless architecture in place, migration from the existing legacy front-end onto the new headless architecture was undertaken in a staged fashion across different site features (navigation, then search, then checkout etc.). Once business and technology teams were happy with the result, the new feature was released to customers as part of a fully functioning website. And we ensured that releases took place with zero downtime or disruption to customer trading.

AI Powered Search

A centrepiece of the project was the development of a ‘Find It First Time’ AI-powered search facility. With a product catalogue containing more than 400,000 products, intelligent search (taking users straight to the products they want) is essential to providing a smoother, more efficient CX and reducing time on-site. We used language processing AI that smartly analyses the search terms used by customers to match them accurately with relevant products. Moreover, machine learning capabilities mean the search function will continually learn from how customers use the site to provide better matches over time.


Multiple quality assurance tasks (technical, SME, business, crowd testing) went into ensuring smooth, performance and stable releases with multiple parties including Wolseley, partners and Wunderman Thompson taking part in migration and testing. So, in addition to technical integrations, business teams spent a significant amount of time ensuring that the new tool was optimally configured to meet customer needs.

Enhanced Customer Journey

We revamped the UI and site navigation to make the site as accessible and easy to use as possible. This is incredibly important in an industry where 1 in 4 tradespeople are estimated to have dyslexia. We significantly improved site standards and consistency plus the experiences relating to opening and managing trade accounts online.


Wolseley’s new online experience now offers customers the best deals in the fastest time, and their automated admin services saves them time and money, giving them everything they need to speed up ordering, reduce errors, automate processes, and drastically simplify admin, ultimately making things easier and more cost effective.

Services include: live prices, live stock, paperless billing and online access to all documents, full order management, the ability to create quotes, convert them to orders and create lists of frequently bought items.

The new site has increased Wolseley’s active online customer base to greater than 40% of trading customers, an excellent result given that 50% of their customer base is over 50 years of age.

Wolseley are also seeing a significant increase in the number of SSE’s – ‘self-serve events’, considerably reducing when a branch colleague would have normally been involved and leading to substantial savings per month! In addition, site performance is rock solid and site speed has improved.

Our audience is complex and we believe we have created a unique B2B digital offer which delivers the best online experience and the best eSolutions for our customer's business. The new platform we created not only grows with our customers but ultimately helps them to grow as well. The platform is helping us rapidly scale our digital innovation in line with our customer's needs, allowing us to listen and create new capability for them, while continuing to deliver one of the smartest B2B online shopping experiences available.”

Hannah Foley

Director of Digital Customer Experience, Wolseley UK

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