A traditional family business becomes digital
These days, all divisions and companies that belong to the Würth conglomerate serve over three million B2B customers. What all started as a small, traditional German business with only three employees has evolved into an innovative omnichannel B2B shopping platform. “Digital innovations in recent years made things less personal, but we have noticed that the role of a contact manager, which our representatives now have, is highly valued,” reflects Gerard Scheffel, E-Commerce Manager at Würth Netherlands. “This way, we have become a personal point of contact, available 24/7 through all of our sales channels.”
There is a deeper meaning behind this internal structure of Würth, Würth Netherlands in particular, who recently won the title “Best B2B Shop” from the renowned magazine “Internet World Business”. “We don’t just sell products, that is something everybody can do, we provide the best possible service.” Scheffel confirms: “People tend to forget that as a B2B company, we are still dealing with people. It means there always is B2Person contact. Providing a personal service is how we can make our business really open and small.”
Having more than 125.000 products at Würth Netherlands, no single person can cover a generic customer service. Würth’s answer lies in divisions, for example automotive, cargo, construction and the steel and metal industry. Each representative has its own discipline, being able to help his own customers as well as possible.
Integrating all channels
The more than 400 companies in the Würth concept have an extensive amount of sales and service channels. “At Würth, we have got our stores, sales managers, pick-up locations, phone, back- and front office, Würth eShop, online platform and more. All channels are integrated to run as one smooth process. Each channel has its own benefits while all combined and selected for you provide a tailor-made solution for each company.”
Another key to the success of Würth is the service they provide to their customers. Gerard Scheffel provides us with an example: “Imagine yourself building a car. In that case you need A, B and C-category products. Our products, screws and rings to assemble the car, are qualified as C-category products. Usually, these products are the cheapest, meaning that competing on price does not make much of a difference. About 80 percent of the total costs for C-category products are their process costs. We try to reduce these, which is of high value to our customers. It can be the difference of an employee having to walk ten times to get new protection gloves in the warehouse and having them close by in his working space.”
All channels in the omnichannel environment correspond to each other. To make this happen, Würth benefits from the Intershop B2B Commerce platform, making the online- and offline order process as dynamic and convenient as possible for their customers. All kinds of services for companies to manage their orders, costs and budgets can be arranged. If a company has mechanics who can order products themselves, managers can check this in their own web shop to see what is ordered. They can approve or decline certain purchases and much more. “Everything we offer, in all of our sales channels and systems but especially in e-business, is to make things more convenient for the customer, not necessarily for us. Every time we talk to a (new) customer, we discuss what works for them. Then, we can come up with a fitting, tailor-made solution in which our online offerings are very important. We did not start with the premise that we wanted to make things cheaper. We have aimed to provide transparency in all of our processes. I believe that this is highly valued by our customers.”
Customers like to buy products outside our general opening hours, especially self-employed ones. Especially products they do not need in first notice, get sold online. Suggestions help giving these products attention. Just like in B2C, when you buy a mobile phone, you immediately buy a cover, because of the convenience of doing it all at once.
Customer journey and user experience
Looking at all of the above, Würth is focusing on the user experience and customer journey from a customer-perspective. At Würth, it’s all about what the customers want and what they need, and how the company can provide that the best way possible.
To remain innovative, Würth executes a lot of research, looking what the need in different countries is. This varies from simple A/B-tests to scientific research on consumer demands. “If, for example, a customer is working with dangerous materials, we will provide him with the necessary safety sheets,” adds Scheffel. “The Intershop platform gives us the opportunity to keep on creating these new, convenient tools and integrate all processes into just one platform for all companies, for every region, for every customer and containing all products. To optimise things as much as possible.” Providing them with insights to save time and costs and getting more insights in their spendings through the omnichannel solutions: That is what leads to a high-value customer relationship.