The chemical industry has been selling products online with great success for many years. A prime example is Dow Corning and their online business Xiameter. With its launch back in 2002, Dow Corning has successfully leveraged a two-branded strategy to reduce cost and achieve a significant advantage in the marketplace. However, even if companies establish online sales in addition to the more traditional ways of selling their products, this sales channel probably enjoys the largest growth – some suppliers generate up to 40% of their revenues though online sales.
There is a number of reasons why the online segment grows over proportional: it is great for recurring orders, and done right a B2B commerce solution can not only provide personalized information, but also contextual product information, and support other business processes, such as online order of product samples, for example.
Tight integration into accounting, planning manufacturing and the supply chain is of utmost importance. When a customer places an order, the system needs to check availability, and in some cases it needs to notify manufacturing to produce the materials. Customers also expect automatic order confirmations, shipment notices, customs and duties information, and invoices.
Many of the existing B2B commerce solutions in the chemical industry are good for placing orders and fulfilling some of the other industry requirements, but they often lack that tight integration and/or functionality required for a great customer experience. In the chemical industry, one of the primary forces behind next-generation solutions is what is called the ‘consumerization’ of B2B commerce. Customers are familiar with the ease of use and user-friendly interfaces of retail solutions (think Amazon.com) and are demanding the same kind of experience from B2B platforms.
Some requirements specific to the chemical industry:
- Inherent product complexity – chemical companies often have multiple brands and product lines, or many products with only slight variations
- Need for customer-specific pricing, discounts, rebate programs etc.
- Integration into the order fulfillment system
- Integration into often complex supply chain planning and execution tools
SAP Hybris B2B Commerce delivers a highly productive, state-of-the-art business customer experience with robust functionality that provides business customers a multi-channel shopping experience as advanced as the Web’s most advanced consumer sites. SAP Hybris minimizes total cost of ownership with optimized processes and increased productivity. Examples:
- Credit checks, invoicing and more
- Integrated sales quotation processes
- Complex account management that handles multiple buyer and user roles and service requirements
- Account credit limit management
- Reduced support requests through self-service resources and content such as technical guides, user guides and product knowledge base
Additional functionality and industry-specific preconfiguration are delivered through SAP Hybris partner solutions. Here is an example of a package which was specifically designed for the chemical industry and its requirements:
- Capability to buy products and to order product samples for evaluation
- Supports all channels, including Web and mobile
- Integrated product documentation, for example for technical product brochures, SDS’s (Safety Data Sheets), or CoA’s (Certificates of Analysis)
- Comprehensive and advanced personalization to deliver targeted and more relevant content
- Tools for buying efficiency, including routine/repeat order support and bulk ordering capabilities
- Customer-specific catalogs and pricing
- Self-service and online order management tools
- Multi-channel support for seamless online purchase experience