Insights & Advice

B2B eCommerce Personalisation Use Case for Spare Parts Business

Albert Woo

It is without a doubt that the global pandemic has accelerated many companies’ digital roadmaps. For companies that sell products and services, being able to provide customers the option to purchase online will make or break the future of your business.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has found in their recent survey that despite a decline in the average online spending per shopper due to the economic impact of Covid-19, shoppers prefer to shop online when they can and have to.

Because more businesses are establishing their presence online, it is not just about acquiring new buyers, but also keeping existing buyers happy and returning to your platform. This is crucial in both B2B and B2C but should be approached in very different ways. This article will focus on the importance of aftersales personalisation in the B2B landscape, where personalisation could differ across the industry, product type, and product application.

A recent article from the Intershop Blog highlighted a use case on how manufacturers can personalise aftersales process to increase customer satisfaction for the spare parts business. This is my take on why this is an interesting B2B personalisation use case.

B2B eCommerce Personalisation For The Spare Parts Business

Let’s break it down.

  1. Shopping Experience Personalisation: B2B vs B2C
    B2C personalisation is typically aimed at prompting buyers to add more items to the basket. In this scenario, the B2C recommendation engine would recommend information that the user may find useful based on what the system learned from other buyers as well as the buyer’s history. This is not the case for B2B. personalisation in B2B means pulling attributes from various systems, stitching the data together, and presenting it in ways that, in essence, help buyers do their job quickly and effectively such as showing a customized catalog for their role/department with user-specific contract pricing or displaying relevant spare parts for a product in the product details page.
  2. What is the Spare Part and why is it complicated?
    Spare parts are parts that can be purchased separately to replace old or broken parts in a piece of equipment. When purchasing a spare part for service or repair, buyers know what they need. Often the specification is locked in and buyers cannot easily deviate to other alternatives. The Successful execution involves a robust integration with the Product Information Management (PIM) system and potentially with manufacturing product collection analytics supported by solid business processes.
  3. Strategies for personalisation in spare parts business:
    1. Track the spare parts for the equipment that buyers have purchased. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it requires the company to have a rigorous process to keep the PIM database clean, accurate, and up to date.
    2. Tweak universal site search to find exact product matches to ensure that when users search for spare parts, the eCommerce site presents a one-to-one match for the spare part or offers the manufacturer’s alternative if the part is obsolete.
    3. Add technical data sheets such as CAD drawings to help buyers verify that they are purchasing the correct spare part.
    4. Update your cross-sell and up-sell strategies to match the technical aspect of spare part products. The recommendation engine should show the relevant product spare parts instead of, for example, products that are frequently purchased together. The key is to understand what matters for buyers.
    5. Manage End of Life (EOL) and Replacement. Ensure that there are procedures in place to manage obsolete products and their replacements.
    6. Include a customized service dashboard for the purchasing journey with details such as approximate spare part service date, book installation service, check on outstanding shipments, download invoices, and exchange or return orders.

There is no one size fits all in how a business personalises its B2B eCommerce platform for buyers. This is one example of how businesses can utilize the product data with purchasing data to personalise and improve buyers’ aftersales experiences.

Contact Intershop for a free consultation on how to get your business online.

About the Author

Albert Woo

Albert Woo is a technology and business leader with over 25 years of experience in the eCommerce industry. Albert currently serves as Chief Executive Officer at Intershop Asia-Pacific, where he helps architect, grow, and scale commerce initiatives for Fortune 1000 companies.

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