Madrid in the autumn of 2019. There is a vibrant hustle and bustle in the Spanish capital. After the summer heat of recent months, temperatures have finally reached a bearable level. At the corporate headquarters of the internationally successful kitchen appliance manufacturer Teka, all signs point to change. Colleagues from sales and IT are deciding these days that it's about time to dare something...
It is about nothing less than perfecting the customer experience, the digitalization of sales and service processes, a reduction of workload and repetitive tasks for their employees, but also about changing customer requirements and the desire for efficient, long-term customer relationships. In short: the creation of a modern B2B online shop.
This was new territory for Teka, because until now all interaction with customers took place mainly by phone, e-mail or fax (!).
We spoke with a Sales Marketing Manager and Teka’s IT Director about the goals and challenges of their digitalization initiative.
Teka stands for quality, technology and innovation. What are the strategic goals behind your digitalization initiative?
Sales: “You could sum it up in two words: customer satisfaction and efficiency. Our customers – their requirements and wishes – are at the center of everything we do. The way companies interact with their customers has changed a lot in recent years, also in B2B.
Today, our customers expect the same comfortable purchasing processes that they are used to from their private everyday life. It is no longer enough to have a call center team answer questions about product specifications, availability, or warranty services.
Customers want to do their own research online, check prices online, and place orders without having to contact one of our sales representatives during usual business hours. We want to meet the requirements of our customers and improve our competitive position – the creation of a modern B2B online shop was the logical next step.”
The launch of a B2B online shop is not an easy task – especially if you are breaking new ground. What was your approach?
IT: “We defined clear goals and brought in expertise. Teka had no experience in digital commerce at the beginning of the project, which means that we had to redefine all of our processes. Together with our partners Sugerendo and KABEL, we have established a strong project team that works with agile methods.
For the pilot project in Spain, we defined an MVP with the most important functionalities: a B2B online shop that allows our customers to order our products and gives them 24/7 access to the product, order, and delivery information. The main goal was to digitalize our customers' procurement processes and to make our internal processes more (cost-) efficient.
The MVP went live after only three months of project duration for a previously defined customer group – selected kitchen studios. Based on customer feedback, we optimize what we have achieved and develop further functionalities with added value for our customers.”
Sales: “From my point of view, the commitment of our management was also a crucial factor, because only when everyone moves in the same direction, these kinds of projects have a chance of success.
At our last company meeting, our e-commerce project was even honored with an award. This was in recognition of the fact that digitalization is at the top of the agenda – being essential for future business development.”
Step by step towards digital excellence, one could say. What were your main priorities when choosing your B2B e-commerce platform?
Sales: “We needed a future-proof platform with comprehensive pre-integrated functionality that would allow us to take off quickly and cost-effectively in digital commerce. We had neither the time nor the know-how for in-house developments.
That's why we are happy to have found Intershop – a state-of-the-art platform that perfectly maps the complex requirements of the B2B business. Thanks to the full-featured blueprint store we quickly reached our goals. The look and feel is convincing and the customer feedback is consistently positive.”
IT: “Another argument in favor of Intershop was the seamless integration into our existing IT system landscape. Not all e-commerce solutions are able to overcome this hurdle. Across the Group we currently have around 30 different ERP systems in use, which need to be connected in a flexible and standardized way. We are planning to introduce a globally standardized ERP solution in the future, but this will be a lengthy process.”
You have achieved a lot in terms of customer satisfaction and internal efficiency. What is your vision of e-commerce in five years?
Sales: “I wished everything could be done online! Digitalization boosts customer interaction to a whole new level. In five years, we will be an experienced e-commerce player, will have learned a lot about the requirements and usage habits of our customers, and will have optimized our online shop accordingly.
I am sure we will have rolled out our e-commerce initiative to other brands of our Group and also internationally. A shop for our premium brand Küppersbusch as well as local shops for the Canary Islands, Mexico or Poland are already in the planning stage.”
IT: “Our vision is that customers can fulfill their complex buyer journey in the most easy and convenient way online. That’s why we will offer them a customer portal where all product and service offerings are centrally bundled and enriched with personalized information and expert tips. This also includes the introduction of a central CRM system to bring together all the information that digital channels offer and use it optimally.”
Finally, do you have a tip for all those manufacturers who want to digitalize customer interaction but fear a project of this size?
IT: “Our motto is: start, learn, optimize. You shouldn’t do everything at once. Set clear goals and go one step at a time. Start with an MVP that you realize for a clearly defined audience in one market. I would recommend choosing an e-commerce platform that has all the features you need for a quick go-live, that perfectly supports the B2B buyer journey and thus provides the perfect foundation for future growth.”
Thank you for the exciting insights! We look forward to actively shaping the digital future of Teka and many other manufacturers and wholesalers!
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