Spare parts e-commerce comes of age
31st October 2017
One of the highlights of October for us was our participation at Aftermarket:Europe. The largest Service event in Europe, AM:Europe brought together thought leaders and senior executives to debate the state of the industry and the opportunities on the horizon with the advent of Industry 4.0. Spare part e-commerce was one of the key topics and it’s evident manufacturers are looking towards the next generation of solutions that can deliver on their customers needs. Our roundtable, entitled “Do my customers really want to talk to me?” was the most subscribed table of the day, attracting senior executives from Outotec, BMW, Leser, Howden and Voith Hydro among others. We had some robust discussions on how to bring manufacturers on a successful journey from reactive selling to proactive online parts commerce. More on that in a later post but I can let you in on a quick secret – document management based solutions aren’t going to cut it!
There were a number of recurring themes that struck me, that seemed common across industries and regions. I’ve picked my top 3 below.
1 – Manufacturers are shifting focus from customer service to customer experience – customers are becoming more tech savvy, and that means their expectations are rapidly changing when it comes to interacting with manufacturers. They expect seamless and connected experiences across multiple channels, instant access to data and the ability to self serve. Many manufacturers acknowledge this and are searching for ways to innovate and digitise their own offerings to meet their customers expectations. It’s not easy.
2 – Reducing customer effort is key to retaining customer loyalty and driving increased spares revenues – Close to my heart. Our vision at CADshare is to minimise customer effort across the entire parts purchasing process. The presentations demonstrated that some manufacturers are really innovating in this area, including Danfoss, Seco Tools, Caterpillar and Unicarriers. Other discussions, however, also told me that many manufacturers are nervous of transitioning to an e-commerce solution for their spare parts, with the risk of losing the opportunity for 1-1 interactions between their customers and the aftermarket team.
3 – Manufacturers need to establish an Aftermarket ecosystem to satisfy their customers needs – with an almost overwhelming array of new technologies arriving, a very pertinent theme was the need to provide a Service Technology Stack, a suite of technologies that compliment each other and work together to address the ultimate aim of minimising downtime for machinery. IoT solutions are great, but not all your customers will pay for them – so how can they order their parts. How do they order parts that aren’t being monitored? What about service contracts? Will the AR maintenance system flow through to parts ordering in a seamless workflow? Grundfos is particular seem to be demonstrating some great innovation in this area.
It was really interesting to gain a deeper understanding of where manufacturers see our innovative e-commerce platform in the context of all these new technologies and how we can add even more value across the whole aftermarket ecosystem, not just parts selling.