Author: Mattias Löfstrand
Relevant search results, a 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 important to provide relevant buyer-specific information to help customers find the right product.
And that is why, today, personalization is a key element in designing an eCommerce solution. A well-implemented strategy can typically 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 behavior, purchase history, and demographics to make a visit to their webshop more personal.
Personalization in B2B
While B2C personalization is aimed at driving sales by making the customer add more items to the shopping basket, often by “impulse buys”, B2B personalization must be more sophisticated. It is unlikely a B2B customer will engage in a procurement process on impulse. Instead, B2B personalization must create value and efficiency for the user.
Typically, B2B personalization 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 and another item in the shopping basket can save time and money. Fast bulk orders of items low in stock reduce errors and ensure support to the customer’s business or the end-user.
Personalization in B2B focuses on customized catalogs, 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 personalization 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. Also, 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 maximize uptimes, which makes anything to support uptime of the 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 high moving spare parts sales. With a typical high margin in aftermarket sales, this may put revenue at risk. Adopting personalization, tailored for the sale of spare parts, to the already available OEM web-shops is an effective way to meet and minimize this risk.
Strategies for personalization 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 to purchase a clothing piece. But this will only level with the large eCommerce firms moving into B2B.
As an OEM, personalization can be taken further to make it more efficient and easier to get the needed parts. Naturally, the B2B personalization strategies will also apply to the aftermarket and sale of spare parts, but they must be complemented with additional tools. Here is an overview of the toolset available for an OEM to personalize 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 make future purchases smoother and 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. Others have shown interest in will not be relevant, and algorithms presenting offerings based on statistics can be misleading. Instead, it must be based on a spare part team's experience 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 the user great value: 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 to hide unnecessary information.
- Add content for easy maintenance and support. If the customer can find the needed information to change parts, like 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 personalization 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 find the exact right part, and with additional content, reducing time will be more efficient. In the end, it will strengthen brand loyalty and increase aftermarket revenue.
Although B2B eCommerce differs significantly 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, ensure that B2B users have a familiar online experience coupled with simplified one-click buying. Learn more: https://www.signifikant.se/e-commerce/