Caplan’s Appliances turned to Whitecap to integrate and automate business functions, while enhancing their online customer experience, supported by modern applications.

Caplan's Appliances logo


Website Design & Development,
Dynamics 365 CRM




Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, MS Power Automate, Whitecap Cloud powered by Long View Systems, .NET, WordPress, Web Application Firewall (WAF)

About Caplan's Appliances

A family-run business since the 1940s, Caplan’s Appliances Opens in a new window is a premium appliance retailer that delivers a rich, immersive, and educational product experience to inspire and support customers while they create their dream homes.

When comparing the website from January 1 - April 30, 2021, against the same period in 2020:

Page views are up 95%

Customer engagement per session is up 107%

Time spent on the site by visitors is up almost 13%

Mobile site visits are up 84%

Whitecap is a technology company that has helped us do things beyond simply redesigning our website, such as integrating elements of our business and using solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365.

The Challenge

The Caplan’s experience is second-to-none. Customers at the retail store are treated to exceptional, personalized service and hands-on experience with the latest premium products. Caplan’s recognized it was time to refresh their online presence to refine the experience for all their customers including individuals and trade professionals. The challenge was to deliver their exceptional, personalized customer experience online.

“Websites have an expiry date and ours was past that date. It was time for the site to evolve but we needed to find the right company to help us build it the way we wanted,” says Robert Caplan, president of Caplan’s, adding “we wanted to do everything we were doing, only better.”

A key challenge was that Caplan’s needed its developers to make all site and content changes including launching new promotions or events, which extended the time required to do anything.

“We lacked the autonomy to internally change the structure of the legacy site without involving our external partner which was a challenge when time-sensitive changes needed to be made,” says Susan Zuzinjak, VP Marketing, Caplan’s Appliances.

At the same time, Caplan’s was looking to increase automation, improve product categorization, and provide a more streamlined way to report and capture customer leads and sales opportunities.

The Solution

As a critical first step, an extensive review of the needs and requirements as part of Whitecap’s eRAD process was completed to ensure current priorities and future requirements were defined before deciding on the direction of the project.

This process defined the application modernization strategy and website brand evolution needed to give Caplan’s greater control and autonomy, while setting the table for future growth and digitization. Underpinning any solution was the requirement to ensure that the Caplan’s experience delivered the personalized, premium customer service that’s been a hallmark since the 1940s.

“I was looking for a partner that had the ability to leverage their expertise with technology to integrate the databases of our products, as well as working behind the scenes and integrating with CRM – this is what appeals to me with Whitecap.”

— Robert Caplan

President, Caplan’s Appliances

WordPress with added security delivers ease of use

Greater control and an ability to manage the website and its content was a top priority for Caplan’s. To provide ease of use for internal teams, the new front-end was built using WordPress with a web application firewall for enhanced protection against intrusion and attacks. It was also built to adhere to the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for accessibility.

At the same time, the design was updated to further enhance the online customer experience as an extension of the in-person experience.

The move to WordPress allows Caplan’s marketing team to easily make changes and add content to their site without needing external help, which speeds their ability to make updates.

“We don’t have to brief an external partner and wait for the turnaround,” says Zuzinjak estimating a new page or promotion can be rolled out three to four times faster than before. “It’s a more seamless, time-effective and efficient way for us to manage the site.”

“Our team is excited to be able to add new landing pages or go in and edit manufacturer information ourselves versus having to plan that process with an external party. And, when we have last-minute requests, we can easily satisfy those to get new campaigns launched quickly. It’s so nice to have that flexibility,” she adds.

Caplan's Appliances home page

Web pages are created and uploaded three to four times faster.

Automating, controlling data flow for over 7,000 products

Caplan’s receives two product data feeds – one from Miele and one for its other appliance brands. In the past this data entered a black box that no one touched. On the back end, it was important for Caplan’s to increase control of these data feeds.

Whitecap created a custom .NET application that maps the more than 7,000 products included in the feeds to align with how Caplan’s categorizes and sells appliances. Caplan’s can now manage how the content in these feeds are categorized, or with a simple call, they can ask Whitecap. It’s part of giving Caplan’s greater control and confidence over their product catalogue that didn’t exist before.

“We’ve made a really great leap forward and we want to continue to evolve and continue to invest so we keep improving. Technology is essential right now.”

“With the store being closed, having a strong online presence that was capable of communicating our brand has been important and generating leads has been essential. In a world where the number of retail stores don’t really matter, your website is your face externally. Your online presence is so important in this omni channel world.”

Caplans Appliances Microsoft Dynamics 365 data

Engaging the power of integrated CRM

Another key element of Caplan’s application modernization project was the move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM. Whitecap worked with Caplan’s to articulate and define its sales funnel, identify key checkpoints, and create a system that increases visibility into the status of each sales lead. When a customer submits an online query or quote, a Microsoft Power Automate workflow takes all the data in that request and translates it into Dynamics 365 CRM to initiate the sales funnel workflow.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 automates emails sent to customers at scheduled intervals to maintain personalized contact during the sales process. At the same time as automating customer-facing communication, the solution provides sales and management with updates and reminders if workflow tasks aren’t complete to keep the lead top of mind. It gives Caplan’s greater visibility of the status of each customer request.

“It really allows us to be on top of our opportunities and leads that come into our business,” says Caplan. “To take the quotes that come in, organize them in a CRM system has been fantastic. Our sales team finds it much easier to use. It helps us be better organized and the response (to the system) has been well-received.”

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM powers an at-a-glance dashboard showing sales leads, as well as providing business intelligence with a snapshot of current product interest. In the future, there’s an opportunity to mine that data using artificial intelligence to show enhanced product trends.

Getting Personal

With the new platform, Caplan’s launched a virtual booking portal where customers can select the products they’re interested in, type of meeting (virtual, phone or, when possible, in person), the data and time they’d like to meet and a free-form text box to add details of a customer’s interests.

With the pandemic impacting retailers’ ability to open and see customers, Caplan says that having online booking, which includes the ability for customers to select specific salespeople when they are booking appointments, has been critical. It’s something they will continue to leverage even after stores fully reopen because it allows Caplan’s salespeople to block off and dedicate time to their customers to provide a very private, personal experience in store (and that’s what their brand is all about).

“Our business is evolving towards appointments. We have been moving in that direction throughout the last year. Even when we had the chance to be open, we were booking appointments where possible. That has been wonderful for us and so we will continue to evolve that offering and hopefully continue to integrate it more into our business,” says Caplan.

The updated, modern platform also lets Caplan’s seamlessly integrate a range of external content and community tools including Eventbrite for virtual and in-store events, customer feedback and testimonials linked to Google Reviews, and blogs from staff and guest experts, as well as smooth interfaces with their social channels like Instagram.

“The new site has more personality. Visitors can now learn more about Caplan’s history, get to know our team members, explore our various campaigns and attend our events. Simply, we have more of an opportunity to be creative and we couldn’t be more excited,” adds Zuzinjak.

Caplan's Appliances appointment page

“The Whitecap team has been very accessible, very supportive and very good at problem solving. They have been a great partner.”

Cloud hosting and infrastructure

Caplan’s website and Web Application Firewall (WAF) are hosted on the Whitecap Cloud powered by Long View Systems, providing a complete Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering with backup, monitoring, and hosting solutions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM runs on Microsoft Azure.

“Whitecap has been fantastic. I have worked with other tech companies in the past and the designers and developers at Whitecap are top notch. Plus, we could not have asked for a better project manager in Peter (Kaznowski).”

— Susan Zuzinjak

VP Marketing, Caplan’s Appliances

Serving Up What’s Next

Keeping pace with updates and technology remains a priority for Caplan’s. Zuzinjak admits she has a ‘wish list’ of items she’s working on to continue enhancing customers’ experience including expanding the trade portal, guest blog opportunities and trade bookings.

On the operations side, Caplan’s is evaluating a new phase to extend Microsoft Dynamics 365 to provide the service team with the same visibility, tracking and workflow that has benefited the sales group.

“We are going to continue to look for ways to enhance my business using Whitecap’s skills,” concludes Caplan.


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