Material Bank is the world’s largest marketplace in the architecture and design industry, providing the fastest and most powerful way to discover and sample materials. The platform powers complex searches across hundreds of brands in seconds. Samples ordered by midnight (ET) are delivered in a single box by 10:30 AM the next day — always free for design professionals.
“We knew if kept doing things ad hoc, we couldn’t scale. With the development of APIs and Passerelle engineering, we literally could go to market with a new customer in a week."
In 2019, Material Bank was on the brink of expansion, but it needed scalable data integration capabilities. Not only did Material Bank need to load e-commerce data from Magento to prompt lighting-fast order fulfilment, it wanted to expand its business model to include 3rd-party vendors, and explore additional ways to use data to add value for its customers.
Material Bank EVP of Engineering Juan Lopez said the company was limited by its outdated data architecture.
“We knew if kept doing things ad hoc, we couldn’t scale,” he said.
Talend’s data integration process was the first selling point – with streamlined, automated connections, Talend required a fraction of the human capital of competing firms. Talend’s solution required two engineers to implement; the competing offering would have required building a full-time staff of more than 25.
While the initial decision might have been based on the bottom line, Material Bank’s decision to implement Talend’s Data Fabric expanded the company’s earning ceiling. With Talend’s data integration platform and the expertise of system integrator Passerelle, Material Bank optimized Talend’s Data Fabric for data integration, and enabled plug and play API integration to create new business opportunities.
API Integration Fuels Growth, Creates New Revenue Streams
Material Bank started small, with low-risk internal systems integrations from established data sources. As Passerelle engineers automated the ingestion process and streamlined API integration, Material Bank realized it could expand data sources and product offerings by powering robust outward facing APIs.
With scalable data integration and integrated APIs, Material Bank began onboarding 3rd-party fulfillment services, with customers including Home Depot, Tilebar and Ethan Allen. Juan credits Passerelle engineers for designing API frameworks that have accelerated speed to market.
“With the development of APIs and Passerelle engineering, we literally could go to market with a new customer in a week,” he said.
The value to Material Bank customers was immense – architects, designers and contractors could shop one site for materials from a variety of vendors, expediting their ordering and planning process. Orders were delivered next day, thanks to Material Bank’s strategic positioning next to FedEx world headquarters. Value for 3rd-party vendors was equally impactful – by outsourcing material samples delivery to Material Bank, 3rd-party vendors could utilize the company’s industry-best fulfillment operation, and also gain valuable insights into customer use. To create even more value, Material Bank used data collected to create sales boosters for vendors – personalized cards that provided, for example, mock-ups of furniture with a coupon to drive sales. Material Bank is able to monetize order fulfillment, 3rd-party order fulfillment, and a sophisticated lead generation and sales conversions. At the heart of all this growth was data.
“We are going to go from 1,800 orders a day to 10,000 orders a day at year’s end,” Juan said. “To scale everything from systems to operations from 1,000 to 10,000 is a huge endeavor is really big. So how we get there, we get there because of Talend.”
Development of Material Bank’s data infrastructure couldn’t have come at a better time.
Material Bank developed a free, easy to use, one-stop shopping website before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With increased usage and interest, Material Bank was tasked with maintaining fulfilment protocols while onboarding new vendors.
“Knowing that we are using a product that can scale and that can become very resilient is very important,” Juan said. “In less than three years, we have become the largest single one stop place for material sampling in the world.”
Material Bank sees no limits in its opportunity for expansion, and Juan knows he has the data architecture to support big-picture thinking within his organization.
“We are going at every opportunity in front of us, really fast and really aggressively. Some are going be successful, some are not. But we have the tools that will let us do that all day long. Otherwise we couldn’t do it.”