Two years ago, Melvin van der Zeyden introduced his e-commerce plans to clients. Most of them ridiculed him. "The first reaction was often 'that doesn't work for me'. It's quite understandable, especially if you've been doing the same thing for 25 years. Suddenly, someone comes and says you can do it differently," the e-commerce manager says.
Melvin van der Zeyden
"30% van our clients order online"
Melvin decided to adjust his strategy. Yex launched a practical webshop and asked clients to react. "They responded enthusiastically. We got a lot of useful feedback on what worked well and what could be improved. Now, we can speak of real success. Thirty percent of our clients now buy via our online platform. That excludes the retail sector that mostly orders via EDI, anyway. Those who protested the most, in the beginning, are now the most active users. In the end, it was a great process. It turns out that if you guide clients, they'll enjoy the process and start to see its benefits."
'COVID-19 boosted e-commerce at particularly the consumer level. But, in the B2B market, more companies are realizing that this is the future. Not only our Dutch clients but also those in Germany and Scandinavia are making good use of this," Melvin says. "When we explain our plans for the online platform to clients, they become enthusiastic."
"They realize it'll make things easier for them. They can place orders 24/7. They know that the orders are always directly in the system. You can also make much better plans together. That's because the current and rolling stock from the ERP system are linked. You can provide much more product information too. This includes information about the seasons and promotional opportunities."
Account manager's added value
"Account managers' added value is also only increased. They're currently too wrapped up in everyday goings-on. They should be looking ahead and helping clients with their future challenges," says Van der Zeyden. When asked to what extent the negotiation is taken out of the sale, he answers, "With large volumes, you'll always keep in touch with clients about prices."
"But, perhaps it's become too much of a habit to ask for a discount when buying 20 boxes. If you deliver good quality, clients can also trust you'll give prices in line with the market. Should there be a price negotiation, the price is fixed in the system. Clients can then easily add the product to their order."
"Yex put a lot of work into its Discovered brand. Think of all the effort concerning not only socially certified products. There's sustainable packaging, and, of course, inspiration and education for clients too. (www.discovered.nl). Fortunately, this is appreciated. We don't have to sell the brand at rock-bottom prices," adds Melvin.
"I now realize part of our assortment is more niche products. There are a limited number of players active here. We ensure good quality, and clients appreciate our brand values. Then, prices become a little less relevant. In the real bulk products, it's more common in day-trade to negotiate prices as much as possible."
Online clients competition
Melvin began doing e-commerce as an account manager. But, now, he feels more like an e-commerce manager than an account manager. "I may have taken the lead, but you get nowhere without a team. Ultimately, not only our clients but also our staff must enjoy working with and on the platform," Melvin concludes. In November, Yex will hold a competition. It'll raffle three Discovered miniature trucks to its online clients.