With B2B eCommerce sales increasing significantly over the past few years, Schneider Electric wanted to enhance B2B sales for its partners by supporting its distributors to develop their own online channels and campaigns. The team initated the O2O programme to accelerate B2B eCommerce transformation, ultimately winning bronze for Best in eCommerce (Brands) – B2B at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE ’s Asia eCommerce Awards 2021.
While other electrical businesses have fallen behind in the digitalisation journey, Schneider started to engage in online sales in the East Asian region ahead of its competitors and is now a leading company in terms of eCommerce. However, Schneider faced the challenge of getting its partners to embark on their own digitisation journey as well and wanted to provide support to its distributors to develop their own online strategies.
Another challenge that Schneider faced was that there was a need to also alter existing current customer behaviours from buying offline to buying online. Although the biggest distributors in Malaysia who were also Schneider’s customers have been engaging in online B2B sales for quite some time, they have not succeeded in increasing the conversion rate as B2B customers still prefer offline sales.
With Schneider’s commitment to customer-centricity, the team wanted to ensure that its customers were able to grow together. Thus, the team initiated the O2O programme to focus on supporting its distributors in sales acquisition through an online platform and providing an incentive to distributors for their online sales. This was different from the traditional approach where incentives used to be given after an offline purchase.
The O2O programme also hoped to increase awareness of the need for digitalisation by showing distributors how a seamless purchase journey could be implemented, from shorter processes to real-time inventory and status checks. Schneider also provided an extensive range of products in order to increase sales for its distributors, and also created marketing content and artwork that its distributors could use to push out promotions to their customers.
With B2B purchases being more complex compared to B2C purchases, the B2B eCommerce platform was designed with convenience as a top priority so that there would be a seamless customer journey experience. One example would be the e-Procurement system put in place to fulfil large orders with just a few clicks.
The team also worked with its distributors closely and utilised data to better understand the areas of improvement in order to optimise their websites, provide better customer shopping experiences and reduce the drop-off rate. Initially, Schneider focused on educating customers to become more digitalised by working with front-line sales. Subsequently, the team incentivised both its distributors and point of sales by offering rebates if they reached the sales or purchase targets. This created a need for excessive paperwork and administrative tasks in order to finalise the purchase.
With the eCommerce platform, Schneider and its distributors could keep track of product availability, customise orders based on customer types and view pricing based on customer tiers. An in-platform search also made it more convenient for customers to view full product descriptions and content.
The team also organised monthly activities such as discounts and promotions for its distributors to drive product attractiveness. Working with its distributors, Schneider continued to enhance the search function on the online platform and continued to engage its customers through e-Newsletters, loyalty programmes, points redemption programmes and vouchers for future purchases.
Schneider also needed to continually engage its distributors to push for digitalisation as they continue to be conservative regarding online purchases. With the O2O programme, the team can also gain insights on how to better serve different customer segments in future.
Schneider’s efforts paid off. Its partners’ sales improved substantially, with two distributors gaining a 206% growth in sales. For Schneider, the O2O programme also generated a revenue increase of 33%. The team was also able to achieve its goal of helping its partners and distributors in their digitalisation journey and has plans to tailor programmes for different customer segments in future.