Hardware wholesaler Isero has transformed into an omnichannel organization. Their advice: create a healthy balance between data, algorithms, and traditional expertise. If you manage to do so, your online revenue will grow.
In this article, you'll learn:
- The secret sauce: a clever omnichannel commerce strategy
- KPIs in B2B e-commerce
- Seizing the power of artificial intelligence in digital commerce
- From data to strategy: What do I need to consider?
- Goodbye gut feelings: Data is king if you want to create truly personalized buyer journeys!
- These are Isero’s tips and recommendations.
The secret sauce: a clever omnichannel commerce strategy
In their omnichannel strategy, Isero’s website is their digital channel. In addition to its webshop with over 50,000 items in stock, the website contains valuable content, like blogs and explanatory content. In the extensive customer portal, customers can find Isero’s digital services – they can view prices, create users, request quotes, track orders, view their order history, and much more. And – this is important – not because Isero wants their customers to do business online only, but because the webshop and website are open 24/7 – as opposed to the physical stores. All transactional and routine actions can be done very quickly online. If a customer has trouble finding his way online, Isero offers ‘assisted self-service’ by chat, for example. "Our product experts have manually reviewed suggestions for our most popular products. This way, we could see whether the algorithm was correct. Traditional expertise remains necessary, also - or especially - online." says Leonie Jansen, Online Marketer at Isero.
KPIs in B2B e-commerce: How to measure the success of digitalization initiatives?
To measure your online success, you can make use of various tools. Isero benchmarks both offline and online channels weekly to get qualitative feedback. Also, they measure online customer loyalty by looking at the order value and return rate. A high return rate means more loyal customers. Nevertheless, e-commerce can be a considerable challenge for wholesalers and manufacturers because of the variety of customers: Big and small companies, different segments, different customer needs, etc. Also, customers are very experienced when it comes to online shopping. Customers have high expectations because of their experiences with Amazon, for example.
Seizing the power of artificial intelligence in digital commerce
Isero now focuses on data, interfacing, and marketing automation. Since their webshop contains approximately 50,000 SKUs, they use a search and recommendations algorithm. For a small e-commerce team, it would be too much work to provide all 50,000 products with cross- and upsell options and suggestions. Also, those options and suggestions would be subjective and static – you would have to do it all again when product ranges change, for example. AI search and recommendations is an intelligent solution to this problem. First, Isero’s goal was to change the salesperson in the shop into a ‘digital’ person who gives suggestions when a customer buys product A. For Isero, an AI-supported algorithm does the same for the webshop by using data from their CRM, personal preferences, previously purchased items, etc.
From data to strategy: What do I need to consider?
Data helped Isero to build a strategy. They combined product data and sales data. For example: If product A is sold in the shop, product B is often sold as well – probably because the salesperson advised the customer to buy product B too. For their cross-sell strategy, Isero defined that cross-sell advice (‘other customers have bought these items too’) should come from a different product group and not the same product group as the original product. It is possible to ‘tell’ the algorithm what is allowed and what’s not, what’s important and less important. With these rules, the algorithm produces cross-sell suggestions.
Goodbye gut feelings: Data is king if you want to create genuinely personalized buyer journeys!
An important thing to realize is that gut feelings often cannot be trusted because data shows otherwise. Also, unlogical data structures are exposed. Isero works with three levels for their product groups: leading group, subgroup, and SKU group. People tend to combine certain groups because, e.g., some product groups only contain very few products. For the algorithm, however, it is important not to combine these because the cross-sell and upsell suggestions might be pretty different from what you’d want as a result.
For Isero, adding cross- and upsell suggestions led to sales doubling. Good recommendations increase order value and show the customer that Isero understands his needs. For Isero, their journey with data has just begun. They plan to add more data sources to the algorithm, like customer behavior on the website – which content is clicked on most? This way, a truly personalized customer journey is built.
Would you like to benefit from an AI-driven data strategy in B2B e-commerce?
These are Isero’s tips and recommendations:
Make sure all channels are well aligned, whether in physical stores, WhatsApp, or the webshop.
Make sure your online service is just as good as your offline service.
E-commerce can never be a goal. E-commerce should be used as a channel to help your customers in diverse ways.
Measure your online success to improve.
Don’t trust your gut feeling, but make use of data.
Take the time to build the algorithm.
Help Sales and Procurement to understand the algorithm.
Ask your experts to check what the algorithm produces.
Do you want to exchange on AI? The B2B Frontrunners community is the perfect place to exchange with like-minded pros. Are you not a member yet? Join us!
Isero is a specialized hardware wholesaler and service provider for construction professionals and technical services in the Benelux region. They specialize in hinges and locks, tools, hardware and fasteners, work clothing, and personal protection equipment. Isero employs over 900 people in 66 locations.
This article has been written based on a live presentation. Click to enjoy the recording and many other inspirational videos.