Case Study: Wasserstrom 

 REACHING A NEW AUDIENCE 

The World's Leading Restaurant Supplier Extends Success in Commercial Sales to Retail Sales 

A Change in Strategy

The Wasserstrom Company is the world’s leading restaurant supplier and distributor of foodservice supplies and equipment, with over 160,000 products and over $300 million in revenue.
The company has historically focused on a national commercial business that sold to major restaurant chains through a direct sales force. In 2008, Wasserstrom revamped its website to launch a new retail business focused on selling to independently owned restaurants, bakeries, caterers, bars and other small businesses. While Wasserstrom had strong brand recognition among restaurant chains, the company faced a challenge in establishing
a brand among smaller businesses.

The Need for a Search Partner

Wasserstrom recognized that search marketing was the key to acquiring new retail customers and driving profitable revenue growth. The challenge was how to do that efficiently. “We lacked the in-house expertise to drive consistently strong results,” explains Dale Edman, Vice President of eCommerce & Online Marketing for Wasserstrom’s E-Commerce Group. The company began searching for a partner to dramatically increase the success of its paid search program.

Wasserstrom Partners with Adlucent

Wasserstrom evaluated several paid search vendors and chose Adlucent in 2010. “Two things really stood out about Adlucent,” explains Dale. “First was Adlucent’s performance-based compensation model, which enabled Wasserstrom to share the risk of acquiring new customers. The revenue share model is core to Adlucent’s philosophy, which aligns with ours. ”The other key difference for Wasserstrom was Adlucent’s willingness to be a strategic partner. “We didn’t want our vendor to be a black box,” says Dale. “We wanted to be kept in the loop about what’s going on with our campaigns. We wanted to learn, and to participate. Adlucent was willing to do that.”

Year-over-Year Revenue Jumps 141 Percent

The company is also starting to see sales pick up down the long tail of its catalog, due in part to Adlucent’s ability to identify profitable “hidden gems” in its product catalog and develop effective campaigns to promote them.

Wasserstrom says that they have partnered with
 the right firm. As Dale explains, “I have an open line 
to the Adlucent team. I can call them to ask about high performing products and keywords, or discuss new products. They’re helpful and collaborative. And with a diverse catalog of 160,000 products, it really helps to have a team of retail paid search experts continuously helping us evaluate what we do.”

Four years later, Adlucent continues to manage search for Wasserstrom, growing revenue year over year.

“Many search agencies fail to provide profitable growth year over year,” said Adlucent CEO Michael Griffin, “but that’s where we excel, and it shows in our roster of long-term clients.”

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Michael Griffin

Founder & CEO

As the founder of Adlucent, Michael brings over 12 years of experience in strategic search engine marketing (SEM), bid optimization, consumer demand intelligence and retail analytics.

Michael is a leading thinker and innovator in retail SEM and drives the technology and overall business strategies for Adlucent.

His first venture into the online retail space was in managing paid search for Amazon.com where he helped grow revenue by 300% year-after-year eventually becoming Amazon's largest worldwide partner in search.

Michael built Adlucent as a bootstrapped company and has grown it into a profitable business accustomed to achieving 75-100% year over year growth. Adlucent's growth has been highlighted in the Inc. 500 and the Austin Business Journal's Fast50 listings, and the company's culture has been honored as an AdAge Best Place to Work and an Austin American-Statesman Top Workplace.

Michael is frequently tapped as an expert on the strategies that foster high converting online traffic to drive successful e-commerce. An active member of the Shop.org Research Committee, Michael participates in driving industry research and sharing results with retailers. Michael's work and perspective have been featured in major media outlets, including The New York Times, Inc. Magazine, the Search Insider and TechCrunch.

Prior to founding Adlucent, Michael attended the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a PhD in analytical chemistry where his thesis focused on advanced analytics for medical diagnostics. Michael is the recipient of the prestigious Watson Fellowship and received his BS degree from Davidson College.

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Ashwani Dhar

Chief Client Officer

Ashwani Dhar is an experienced executive, entrepreneur and venture capitalist bringing sales, marketing, business development, and funding experience to Adlucent.

At Adlucent, Dhar is responsible for customer acquisition and overall client success.

During his tenure, he has expanded the company's customer base five-fold while achieving an industry-leading client retention rate. Ashwani has been also responsible for Adlucent's positioning and go-to-market strategy. He pioneered an innovative performance-based model that aligns Adlucent's compensation with its clients' success.

Prior to Adlucent, Dhar was responsible for revenue generation, market positioning and the ultimate business success for successful startup companies like Iconixx, Agea and Trilogy. Ashwani also founded and managed DC International, an international consulting company that focused on the emerging markets of Latin America.

Dhar began his career in strategic consulting for healthcare clients with APM and technology & operations consulting with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). Dhar also served on the Board of Directors for Bigfoot Networks, Robot Genius and Perception Software through investments from his venture capital firm Venio Capital Partners.

Graduating from the Jerome Fisher Program for Management & Technology at the University of Pennsylvania, Ashwani earned a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BSE in Electrical Engineering from the Moore School. He also holds an MBA from Harvard University.

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Tim Ozor

Vice President of Engineering

Tim has over 25 years experience designing and developing high performance software machinery. Tim leads all technology development and operations in the role of VP of Engineering.

Tim's responsibilities also include all data integration, tracking, reporting and analytics utilized by Adlucent.

Since joining Adlucent, Ozor has driven the development of Adlucent's leading edge BuyerPath™ application and analytics platform, which is being utilized to effectively and efficiently manage millions of keyword and product ads for some of the largest online retailers in the world.

Tim's body of work includes Unix operating system development, object oriented middleware design and large scale Web application architecture. Ozor was instrumental in the development of Austin-based Vignette's ground-breaking content management system which served as the core product for Vignette through its IPO and eventual sale to Open Text. Tim was one of the first developers on board at Vignette and was employee 15 at what came to be one of the most successful IPOs in the Austin high-tech industry. Prior to Adlucent, Ozor led the design and development of the highly acclaimed National Transcript Center, which provides a secure electronic trading system for the exchange of student transcripts.

Tim received his BS degree in Computer Science from Clemson University in 1986, and has been committed to achieving higher and higher levels of software mastery ever since. When he is not building industrial strength software, Tim enjoys windsurfing, rock music, and maintaining the lowest carbon footprint and body fat levels possible.

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Brian Vogel

Head Coach - People & Culture

As Head Coach, Brian’s charge is to guide managers and Adlucites to their full potential. With 20+ years of experience as a HR executive and NCAA Division I Athlete and Coach, he instinctively relies on his vast experience in leadership development in business and athletics to bring forth leadership and business enablers.

Prior to joining Adlucent, Brian held various HR executive leadership positions at Verizon and USAA. More recently he led the HR functions at Austin-based FirstCare Health Plans and Campus Advantage. He played a pivotal role in the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE to form Verizon, one of the five largest mergers in the 1990s. During the merger he directed team of 10 employees who orchestrated placement and /or displacement of 6,000+ staff. In subsequent roles key accomplishments included implementing a third party HR administrative solution valued at approximately $750K annually at Campus Advantage and instituting scientifically based recruiting processes resulting in a 33% improvement in average time to fill for key positions as well as a 20% reduction in turnover. He has also served as a Senior HR Consultant for vcfo and currently maintains his own business performance coaching practice ~ Sundog Coaching Group.

He holds a bachelor's degrees in business administration from University of Notre Dame where he concentrated in Marketing and was co-captain of Men’s Swimming and Diving team. He also has a master's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois where he concentrated in Human Resources at the nationally renowned School of Labor & Employment Relations.

When not coaching, Brian spreads his free time between trying to stay fit doing CrossFit and mountain biking, enjoying quality time with his two daughters Gracie and Elle, and serving as a business consultant to Little Helping Hands, the renowned Austin non-profit he helped found with his wife, Marissa.

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