Relevant search results, lesser number of clicks, saved payments, no overload of information – these are just a few of the expectations of today’s online buyer. As a seller, it is as important to provide relevant buyer-specific information as it is to help customers find the right product.
And that is why, today, personalisation is a key element in designing an eCommerce solution. Typically, a well implemented strategy can increase customer experience, customer retention, loyalty to your business and revenue.
So, what exactly is personalization? It is a process to make the content of an online store more relevant to the customer’s needs. It increases the user experience and makes the interactions faster and easier. Online retailers have been using dynamic content, product recommendations based on browsing behaviour, purchase history and demographics to make a visit to their web shop more personal.
Personalisation in B2B
While B2C personalisation is aimed at driving sales by making the customer add more items to the shopping basket, often by “impulse buys”, B2B personalisation must be more sophisticated. It is unlikely a B2B customer will engage in a procurement process on impulse. Instead B2B personalisation must create value and efficiency for the user.
Typically, B2B personalisation will need to focus on delivering efficiency to the customers. A saved click can be transformed into revenue for the customer’s business while easy to access product information can reduce costs. A reminder to buy a tool that you will need together with another item in the shopping basket can save time and money.. Fast bulk orders of items low in stock reduces errors and ensures the support to the customer’s business or the end user.
Personalisation in B2B focuses on customized catalogues, contract pricing, supporting segmented information based on roles, allowing quick bulk orders and handling roles in the order process. It requires the use of all knowledge about your products and customers that you have access to.
The spare parts business
Why is personalisation important in the aftermarket and spare part sales? It has many similarities to the normal B2B case in presenting relevant information to the customer and supporting different roles.
But it also adds some additional complexities.
When servicing a product, the exact structure will be crucial. A design change from one month to another may make one spare part fit and another not. The actual install base in terms of exact versions or individuals becomes essential. In addition, when purchasing a spare part for service or repair, the customer knows what she needs. Add-on sales based on recommendations from other users or similar purchases becomes irrelevant. The customer’s main focus is to reduce stop times and maximise uptimes which makes anything to support uptime of greatest value.
Looking at market trends, third party competition in the aftermarket is increasing. Large eCommerce vendors are moving into the B2B eCommerce space with strategies focussed on the high moving products and parts. These large eCommerce vendors offer easy to use user interfaces, low prices and fast deliveries for the high moving spare parts. For businesses open to third party spare parts, third party eCommerce sites may take a big share of the sales of high moving spare parts sales. With a typical high margin in aftermarket sales, this may put revenue at risk. Adopting personalisation, tailored for the sale spare parts, to the already available OEM web-shops is an effective way to meet and minimise this risk.
Strategies for personalisation in the spare part business
The expectations that users bring with them from their B2C shopping experiences must be met. It must be equally easy and fast to find and get the right spare part for an existing product as to purchase a piece of clothing. But this will only level with the large eCommerce firms moving into B2B.
As an OEM, personalisation can be taken further to make it more efficient and easier to get the needed parts. Naturally the B2B personalisation strategies will apply also to the aftermarket and sale of spare parts, but they must be complemented with additional tools. Here is an overview of the tool set available for an OEM to personalise the spare part business:
- Keep track of install base. Knowing your customer’s install base is the key to making it relevant and presenting the parts needed. It may save several clicks and thus valuable time.
- Ensure to store the connection between the ordered part and the product it is needed for. It will help in making future purchases smoother as well as important information to the R&D when improving product quality. If the install base cannot be tracked, it is also a method of helping the customer finding the right products.
- Focus the spare part search on finding the exact right product version or individual to ensure the right parts and service information is presented.
- Use cross-sales and up-sales strategies for your spare part business. Cross-sales and up-sales will differ a bit compared to product sales. What others have shown interest in will not be relevant, and algorithms presenting offerings based on statistics can turn out to be misleading. Instead it must be based on the experience of a spare part team and tailored to the specific product. When a customer orders a spare part for a product, an accessory that fits that product may be relevant. Suggesting additional spare parts that may be wearing down could give great value to the user. E.g. lubrication or a service tool needed to change the part. For expensive parts in older products, presenting a new and better product may drive product sales.
- Ensure to handle legacy parts and their replacements. Old parts may have been replaced in several steps and this needs to be communicated and handled on the eCommerce site.
- Highlight relevant technical bulletins that require or recommend the customer to replace spare parts in their product. Allow customers to acknowledge the information when the replacement has been done in order to hide unnecessary information.
- Add content for easy maintenance and support. If customer can find the needed information to change part, as videos or textual descriptions of the support, along with the parts valuable time will be saved. Getting the correct part is equally important as an efficient service operation.
In conclusion, implementing smart personalisation strategies in the spare part business, is bound to increase your customer’s experience and at the same time efficiently compete with third party vendors. Keeping track of the install base will help the end user finding the exact right part, and with additional content, the process of reducing time will be more efficient. At the end it will strengthen the brand loyalty and increase the aftermarket revenue.
Although B2B ecommerce differs a lot from B2C ecommerce, it is worth noting that B2B customers expect to receive the same user experience through both channels. The Signifikant Platform can be “the company” portal for anyone planning a new Aftermarket Information portal. Our functionalities of personalization, integrations, and attribute based filtering, amongst others, ensures that B2B users have a familiar online experience coupled with simplified one-click buying. Learn more: https://www.signifikant.se/e-commerce/
Author: Mattias Löfstrand