As B2B buyers turn to digital purchasing channels they expect the digital experience to be aligned to their needs and expectations.
Saddled with a website that was no longer able to meet the needs of its dealers due to an inferior user experience that was causing customer satisfaction to decline, KION North America, a manufacturer of forklifts and replacement parts, sought to build a new ecommerce platform that corrected those problems, boosted sales through its website, and provided scalability and operational agility.
One reason KION North America sought to boost sales through its ecommerce site is that while its legacy system was able to process about 80% of incoming spare parts orders online, order volume did not increase significantly over time.
After initially selecting a new ecommerce platform, KION North America realized during the early stages of the installation that the new platform would not deliver the user experience its dealers expected. Meeting dealer’s expectations for online purchases was a top priority for KION North America as the manufacturer views its dealer channel as a way to build and maintain close relationships with buyers and gain insights into how to improve products and services. As a result, KION North America sought to build a new dealer portal that provides dealers with improved order processing and OEM-to-dealer communication and would expand its sales and service presence in North America to stay ahead of the competition.
After the decision was made to halt the implementation, KION North America turned to DSS Partners, an Intershop Platinum Partner and provider of enterprise e-commerce solutions and custom web and mobile solutions for manufacturers and distributors.
The decision to work with DSS proved to be the correct one. DSS was able to step in and leveraged its Intershop Accelerator Store (DIAS), which allowed the company to build separate dealer and administrator portals in less than six months. The new portals allow KION North America’s sales and service staff to access—and act on—important truck installation, returns, and warranty claims in real time.
“The decision to stop the current implementation and go with Intershop proved to be very wise,” says Chris Thomas, aftermarket development manager at KION North America. “Our new Lindelink portal adds to the quality of the relationship between KION North America and our dealer network and fosters closer customer relationships. From scoping the work to the delivery, Intershop and DSS were able to deliver an e-commerce experience aligned with our business and customers’ needs.”
Through the portal, dealers can place and refine orders according to the buyer’s authority level, check available inventory, and track delivery status. In addition, the portal allows for quick reordering and uploading of order forms. Users can collaborate on order templates and complete the information or add products.
The portal also offers dealers the ability to distinguish between stock and emergency orders during the purchasing process. Emergency orders are placed with prioritized shipping. Dealers can also access truck installation reports and a bill of materials overview to better estimate costs, plan and control inventory, and minimize truck downtime.
Enabling real-time inventory counts, returns, and access to warranty information straight from KION North America’s SAP enterprise resource planning platform was a priority for KION North America as those features directly impact the user experience. For example, when an order is placed through the dealer portal, the ERP system automatically pulls the transaction data from the front end into the backend. A sales order is created, and SAP functions in the background to drive inventory allocation before updated inventory information is passed back to the e-commerce front end. KION North America has more than 30,000 SKUs in its digital catalog. Having the ability to see real time inventory counts and pricing shortens order lead times, reduces order errors, and ensures data consistency.
When it comes to warranty information, dealers can submit warranty claims and all supporting materials online and view a buyer’s claim history. Warranty claims are transmitted in real-time to KION North America’s administrator portal, where customer service representatives can approve specific line items, approve claims in bulk, or modify and reject submitted claims. When the claim, or specific item on a claim, has been processed, the dealer site receives the notification of the warranty claim status change. As a result, the warranty claim process is simplified for KION North America’s customers and product support teams.
The payoff from the new dealer platform has achieved KION North America’s goal of increase ecommerce sales with 96% of orders now taken online. In addition, online orders per day are up 15%.
Looking ahead, KION North America plans to continue enhancing the user experience through the addition of more features users find on B2C websites. Plans are also in the work to implement online parts manuals for accuracy with regard to parts identification and installation, PDF invoice management online, and credit card payment processing.
“The recipe for success was a combination of the user-centric Intershop Commerce Platform, DSS’s experience with manufacturing and distribution customers, and our collective field-proven e-commerce best practices,” Intershop America’s EVP & Managing Director, Andy Stanis.