Shopping – but not as we know it

Digitalization has radically changed the way we shop. Companies need to respond and adapt to the needs of their customers. And OSRAM is among those paving the way in digital sales.

“Your order has been dispatched” – a short message tells you the current delivery status. Before placing the order, we naturally spent lots of time plowing through comparison websites, reading product reviews and checking out recommendations in social media. Fortunately, the web shop met our expectations. It had all the relevant information on the product, and ordering was quick and easy. Otherwise we’d have clicked out without so much as a second thought!

“Together with the Business Units, we are developing the guidelines for digital sales of the future.” Dr. Johannes Ihringer, Head of Digital Project Office Corporate Strategy

Customers no longer have to meekly accept what’s there. They can afford to be choosy, and they can get more accurate information than ever before. So their demands are also greater than ever. They not only expect companies to respond to their needs, they also want to be impressed at all times by the brand, its products and its services. Purchasing has to be an experience. Rational criteria such as product features and price are not the only deciding factors.

Think big: a CRM system offers huge potential.

Online retailers such as Amazon have identified the need and acted accordingly. In the B2B sector, on the other hand, there has been great reliance on long-standing relationships with professional buyers whose purchasing decisions were guided by dispassionate logic and by an analysis of functionalities and product features. But people don’t abandon their private purchasing habits as soon as they enter their place of work. Online shopping experiences and the associated expectations have long since crossed over to the professional environment.

Digital leaders are more successful

Companies must invest in their digital sales infrastructure, otherwise they will fall behind. A McKinsey study revealed that companies that fully embrace the digitalization of their sales are more powerful and more financially successful. The leaders in digital sales achieved greater sales growth and higher profitability than other companies.

Decision-makers in corporate purchasing departments now expect more than just intuitive online portals with attractive product presentations. Whenever they come into contact with a company, they need information that is both relevant and up-to-date. And they are accustomed to receiving personalized offers. Sales departments have always maintained such personal relationships with their contacts. In the digital world, they can optimize these relationships with data support. Customer relationship management (CRM) using innovative software is the basis for accompanying customers throughout their entire purchasing journey and making that journey as successful as possible for both parties.

Personalized messages and offers make purchases more likely.

From linear sales to a customer journey

Before completing a purchase, customers now have around five touchpoints with a supplier and make use of very different interaction channels as they go from one to the next. Personal contact with a sales executive usually takes place only after customers have already gathered almost 60 percent of the information they need themselves. And even after a purchase has been made, the relationship should continue to be nurtured, for example with tailor-made after-sales campaigns. Sales as a predictable, linear process? That was yesterday. Today, customers embark on a complex journey that features numerous points of contact, known as touchpoints. Companies no longer have any direct influence on some of these touchpoints, such as social media, user forums and rating websites. Sales departments need to stop seeing everything in terms of the company and its products and have a complete rethink. The only meaningful starting point is the customer and their wishes and needs.

Rational decision criteria take a back seat.

OSRAM is taking this approach with the Next Generation Sales project. The project is creating the infrastructure for digital sales and the basis for new processes and ways of working in the digital world of tomorrow. The result is the new online OSRAM Xchange B2B platform. In addition, implementation of a CRM tool from market leader Salesforce ensures that all sectors of the company that interact with the customer can make full use of the data-based potential of customer contact and personalization. Around 3,000 colleagues are currently working at OSRAM in sales and sales-related functions. The Next Generation Sales project therefore addresses every fifth employee. They should all benefit from the new opportunities presented by digital sales.

Customers want to be enthused and entertained.

Learning from others

Until then, there is still a lot of work to do for the project team comprising colleagues from all the business units and corporate functions. They will be taking every opportunity to plunder the treasure trove of experience gathered by other companies. “Digitalization requires us to think outside the box,” says Dr. Johannes Ihringer, Head of Digital Project Office Corporate Strategy and project manager of Next Generation Sales. “Any company not willing to gain fresh impetus from outside will not develop fast enough.”

“Digitalization is placing more focus on the customer. All sales activities must be geared to the customer.”

Dr. Johannes Ihringer,
Head of Digital Project Office Corporate Strategy

Cooperative solutions instead of complete visions

One thing is clear: change is one of the few constants in digitalization. Everyone can see that the company has changed rapidly. What all this means in concrete terms for tomorrow’s sales operations is difficult for individuals to understand, however. The truth is, there is no signposted path. Instead of presenting staff with complete visions, OSRAM is bringing staff on-board at an early stage, as Johannes Ihringer emphasizes: “We want to work together to create and continually develop guidelines for the digital sales of the future.” The approach adopted by the project team is therefore one of cross-segment collaboration, a cooperative working style and agile methods. There is a lot happening in sales right now. At the center of all these changes is the customer – and the future of OSRAM.