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Thommen Medical goes digital, introducing a self-service ordering option for dental professionals.

  • average adoption rate

  • new market setup

  • interaction time worldwide

  • from first idea to ready‑to‑release

  • orders from mobile devices

  • availability since go‑live

The challenge

Creating an intuitive online ordering experience that leads to wide client adoption

Thommen Medical — a Swiss designer and manufacturer of dental implant systems with a reputation for product innovation and precision — was looking to deliver a new B2B service to its extensive network of dental professionals. One that would give dentists the option to place their orders directly online as an alternative to phone, email, or telefax via sales agents. The existing site provided a product catalog as a non‑interactive PDF document. Having a self‑service option would create greater efficiency overall, and allow dentists and their sales agents to focus on more value‑added activities such as product training and development.

The solution

A headless architecture composed of best-in-class commerce, content and search

Thommen Medical’s goal was to implement a digital solution that would deliver an intuitive customer experience with wide adoption, provide speed and flexibility in adding new capabilities, and roll out services to new markets with minimal complexity.

Thommen Medical engaged Eyekon, a 360° digital agency, to create the end‑to‑end user experience and Intelliact, a technology consultancy and service provider, to evaluate different architectures and SaaS solutions that would best meet the company’s business goals and ensure they would be set up well for future enhancements. Intelliact researched software providers for a headless, composable technology stack and selected Commerce Layer to be the commerce API at the heart of the stack, with Hygraph as the CMS and Algolia for search. They then compared this best‑of‑breed solution to a monolith with various headless services and a traditional monolithic solution. Intelliact and Thommen Medical determined that the composable architecture would best meet the current and future business needs.

Commerce Layer
Commerce Layer

Multi-market commerce API that makes any content shoppable.

hygraph cms logo

The first headless content management and federation platform using GraphQL.

Algolia logo

AI-powered platform that creates blazing fast, instant and relevant search and discovery experiences.

React logo
React PWA

React-based, UX-like native application, cross-platform by nature.

The result

A well-received site experience with high client adoption and a future-proof architecture

The project ran efficiently and delivered phase 1 — a self-service site for dentists — in six months. It was launched first in Switzerland. Very quickly, the adoption rate from existing customers grew to 40% and received positive feedback for its usability.

In phase 2, the Intelliact team created a progressive web app for their sales agents that delivered the same online ordering experience as for clients. This would give them the option to continue placing orders on behalf of some clients, but in a more efficient manner. With the existing Commerce Layer + Hygraph + Algolia implementation, this was a straightforward configuration. Thommen Medical then rolled out both the self‑service site and progressive web app to Germany.

Phase 3 will enable dentists to store dental implant systems locally as inventory so that they can be immediately available for patients. Thommen Medical will recognize this as a separate stock location from its own warehouse. This is made possible with Commerce Layer’s flexible multi-market and inventory models and will also be a configuration set‑up vs. a build.

Biggest benefits

What we have delivered

  • On-time launch and domain expertise
    With Thommen Medical's clearly articulated objectives, Intelliact's thorough analysis and planning and the domain expertise provided by Commerce Layer on transactions, Hygraph on content, and Algolia on search, the project was run efficiently and delivered on‑time.
  • Strong client transaction adoption and usability
    Upon launch, the adoption rate grew quickly to 40% within two months of launch and was well‑received by clients due to the ease of navigation, product findability and the purchase process. We expect this rate to continue to increase over time.
  • Fast market rollout through configuration
    After the initial launch in Switzerland, the B2B transactional site was quickly rolled out to Germany, with the U.S. set as the next target market. These markets are set up in Commerce Layer under a single organization and through a configuration.
  • Future‑proofed for new features
    Thommen Medical has already added a sales tool for their sales agents post‑launch and is setting up a distributed inventory model that includes the network of dentists as a stock location in addition to their own warehouses. This shortens the time to deliver product to patients and again, is a set‑up that can be configured rather than requiring code.
Case study

Choosing composable commerce

Thommen Medical is a Swiss designer and manufacturer of dental implant systems with a unique reputation for Swiss precision, innovation and functional design. They develop high quality solutions to satisfy their customers' high standards for safety, aesthetics and sophistication.

Thommen Medical had already been planning to enable online ordering of their products when COVID quickly became a global pandemic. This accelerated the project’s prioritization; from the time of management approval to a functioning site totalled six months. Until that time, the product catalog was made available online in PDF form, and sales orders were taken by Thommen Medical’s sales agents and placed by the ERP administrator. This multi-step process was not the most efficient one possible and open to errors.

A dynamic product configurator and shopping cart enables self-service ordering.

The Thommen Medical team and their technology partner, Intelliact, worked together to define their business requirements and longer term roadmap. Intelliact evaluated three different architecture approaches: a headless, composable tech stack vs. a monolith with headless services vs. a traditional monolith and determined that the best-of-breed approach would not only meet their current needs, but also provide the greatest flexibility for the future. With this architecture, they could continually adapt the stack to reflect their developing business needs and avoid having to make compromises.

They selected Commerce Layer for its robust commerce APIs, Hygraph for content and Algolia for search. This decision was in line with Thommen Medical’s own product philosophy, that is, to have a focused product line and be the best in the industry. With each of the three solution providers, they found themselves working with domain experts in each of the core stages of a client's online journey. The three providers also had pre‑built integrations and were bound together by the philosophy that everything starts with the customer experience.

Client adoption of our online purchasing service well-exceeded expectations. I attribute this to an intuitive design, best-in-class business services, and domain expertise that put the customer experience first.

Pascal EberhardChief Marketing Officer at Thommen Medical AG

In phase 1, Thommen Medical’s goal was to create an online experience where clients could easily find the right products and place orders directly without the aid of a sales agent. This service created efficiency for both the client and Thommen Medical. Going into the project, without a baseline to compare it to, Thommen Medical anticipated a 15-20% client adoption rate. They achieved this immediately upon launching in Switzerland and are averaging 40% three months post-launch. This frees up sales agents to provide value added services to existing clients while dedicating time to new clients for training and successful onboarding.

In phase 2, Thommen Medical created a progressive web application for their sales agents so that they could continue to place orders on behalf of clients who still wanted to place orders via phone, email or telefax. This experience mirrored that of the client’s, and linked the sales agent to the transaction. Sales agents could now place orders directly into their ERP system, bypassing another manual step. The site and app were then rolled out to Germany.

Option for sales agents to place orders on behalf of customers.

In phase 3, Thommen Medical plans to introduce a consignment model, where inventory stored at a dentist’s office can be set up as a stock location with a specific price list and inventory allocation. The company can define a hierarchy for fulfillment between the dentist’s office and their central warehouse. Once a patient requires an implant system, it is considered a sale and triggers a stock replenishment. This is made possible by Commerce Layer’s flexible multi‑market and distributed inventory models. This phase will include a rollout to the U.S. market.

Post initial launch, all enhancements — whether a new market or new stock location — were configurations on the backend. This fulfilled Thommen Medical’s goal of leveraging the solution’s flexible architecture to launch new capabilities, quickly and efficiently.

Thommen Medical, in partnership with Intelliact, successfully leapfrogged from a corporate site with a product catalog in PDF form, to a modern, composable commerce architecture.

I found Commerce Layer’s API and models to be most flexible, satisfying individual customer needs, and quickly enabling new markets and features.

Marco EgliSenior Consultant at Intelliact AG