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Beyond omnichannel: one size does not fit all

In a recent blog, Jen Scholze highlighted SAPPI Papers transformation journey towards omni-channel customer engagement. The ARC report behind this blog takes a close look at how SAPPI switched from a classical high touch B2B model (with few large customers) to a sophisticated and differentiated approach per each customer group. They added many smaller customers (that would previously have received material through traders and distributors).

"Omni-Channel" emphasizes the seamless experience of one customer across the whole customer journey. SAPPI has nicely reflected the differentiated requirements (spot buyer vs. small business regular client vs. large business strategic customer). One size clearly does not fit all - neither on the level of integration & automation, nor on the customer experience in the shop.

Seling smarter in Steel

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Severstal's marketing director Dmitry Goroshkov pointed out the huge potential for e-commerce in steel. With the current overcapacity on the market, smarter selling is a strategic imperative - to address new markets, win new customers, cut out former "downstream" value chain partners, blend in more advanced logistic fulfillment options.

Omni-Channel order fulfillment options

Buy Online Pick Up In Store, for example, has become widely adopted by leading brands. Sounds simple, right? Building seamless and easy, for a B2B buyer, and across channels - including tracking - requires a fair bit of integration behind the scenes.

One step ahead

It does not stop here. While some years ago CRM was not top of the list, many of the leading mill products companies have today the customer experience as a centerpiece of their digital strategy.

In a discussion with a CIO just yesterday we talked about the risk to compete with one's former customers.
Some companies approach this by creating a new brand e.g. for small customer and consumers, or differentiate their direct and their distributor brand, or only compete in specific countries.

Others incentivize distributors, provide sales & marketing tools & recommendations to increase distributor sales of their products (rather than competitor's products).

Personalization of the e-commerce experience is another essential differentiator.
Several good examples I have seen, include a "pro"-offering - for frequent small buyers like crafts shops, or influencers and distributors.

Meet your customers where they are - everywhere

Supplier discovery in the Ariba Network is a powerful option to look globally for new suppliers. The Ariba Network is the world's largest B2B marketplace - and thus a great place to be found by new customers.

Therefore my final recommendation: please consider selling into the Ariba Network as another interesting pillar in your customer-facing strategy.

For more on digital transformation in the mill industry, see How Digital Transformation Can Save Paper And Packaging,  and don’t forget to check out for mill products!