Digital Commerce Strengthens Johnson Controls’ Omni-Channel Sales

At Johnson Controls, B2B e-commerce is bringing a breath of fresh air to selling building controls systems from a home HVAC system manufacturer to installation contractors.

We are always creating new digital technologies to help in this area.

Janet Englehart, Director of E-Commerce

Johnson’s checks

The manufacturer is expanding its network of brick-and-mortar stores to attract York HVAC customers in local markets in the U.S. where there are not enough third-party distributors. Each new brick-and-mortar store has a dedicated B2B online store at, with content that can be customized to local market demand.

Janet Englehart - Johnson Controls

Janet Englehart, Director of E-Commerce, Johnson Controls

The multichannel expansion program has led to double-digit annual increases of about 20% or more in U.S. HVAC digital sales, as contractors use the local version of Johnson’s marketplace to find and order the HVAC products and parts they need on job sites, says Janet Englehart, Johnson’s director of e-commerce for duct systems. She adds that digital sales account for about 25% of Johnson’s total HVAC sales. runs on the Adobe Commerce software technology platform in a headless commerce setup, which allows for greater personalization for each local marketplace site, Engelhart says. Johnson is working with Valtech, a global digital agency, to implement and customize its e-commerce platform.

Adapting e-commerce to local markets

Englehart says the Adobe Commerce platform meets Johnson’s need to tailor its e-commerce presence to each local market. It has 51 local online stores and expects to grow that number to 100 in the next three years. Johnson also implemented Infor’s enterprise resource planning system and Akeneo’s product information management system, which support the way Johnson needs to present product and component packages based on each shopper’s HVAC needs.

Johnson Controls uses Adobe Commerce’s Global Reference Architecture (GRA) to unify core functionality across business units while supporting customization for local markets, such as local currencies, languages, and multimedia.

Ireland-based Johnson Controls International, which reported global net sales of $26.8 billion for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2023, has its North American headquarters in Milwaukee.

Englehart adds that Johnson’s growing online presence has helped the company increase sales through online cross-selling and cross-selling, and by making HVAC contractors aware that it sells complementary products, such as PVC pipe. The e-commerce site has helped the company increase parts sales by 40%. The average online order is $3,200, with product prices ranging from as little as $1 to about $10,000.

While focuses on selling HVAC products that only licensed contractors can purchase, the manufacturer also sells ancillary items, such as air filters, through Amazon and other marketplaces.

To increase the value of its own e-commerce platform for the HVAC market, “we’re always building new technologies that help in this space,” Englehart says.

Accelerating customer purchasing decisions

To speed up and personalize the way B2B buyers can serve their HVAC customers, Englehart and her team have pre-qualified critical equipment that HVAC distributors and installers need to order to prepare work and generate quotes. In the HVAC industry, being able to make an informed purchasing decision is paramount,” she says.

For example, on residential projects, HVAC contractors need to set up two operating units—one inside the residential building, the other outside—and order all the appropriate equipment and components according to specifications. In the recent past, contractors have used an online tool to sort through equipment options, “trying to decide what they need,” Englehart says.

Englehart responded by developing a feature on that lets contractors order pre-fitted, certified equipment and use a related app to enter a profit margin and create a quote for the customer. “So they can go to our website, see our inventory and pricing, but they can also create a quote that they can print or email to the customer and put their logo on it,” she says.

To that end, Johnson Controls is introducing a new parts finder to help contractors order the right mix of components needed to repair a specific HVAC system, such as components required to work with new refrigerants introduced under new government regulations.

“They can scan a QR code or enter a serial number to order a complete list of parts they need, down to the bolts that hold the compressor in place,” Englehart explains.

Making life easier for sales reps

To gain the support of sales representatives who were initially skeptical and wary of the online self-service channel, Johnson Controls presented it as an extension of customer service.

“Some of our account managers have large territories and a lot of time behind the wheel, driving to clients, but they can’t always get to all of them every week,” Englehart says, adding, “Every transaction that’s made on the website, the account managers get a copy by email. They also get the same order confirmation, so they can call the client and talk about the purchase.”

Online B2B customers can log in to manage their purchasing accounts and view statements and invoices. “We’ve implemented a lot of self-service features that go beyond the transactional type,” Englehart says.


A section of designed to help HVAC contractors manage their projects.

Johnson Controls is also driving digital commerce forward by sharing the expertise it gained from designing and building with a variety of channel partners who can implement similar e-commerce capabilities on their own websites for their customers.

Charles Desjardins, executive vice president and managing director of Valtech, which worked with Johnson Controls to create, says the company’s PIM technology has been particularly helpful in ensuring Johnson’s distributors have access to the right product information and online presence to drive conversions and sales.

Englehart says more improvements are coming online soon.

“We’re constantly improving and expanding the app. I have quite a few features on the backlog that I want to implement so customers can make more informed decisions,” he says.

Janet Englehart will speak on B2B e-commerce growth strategies at the EnvisionB2B forum in Chicago on September 12.

Paul Demery is a contributing editor at Digital Commerce 360, covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].

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