Efficient shop control with a decentralized structure thanks to a global core approach
FUCHS PETROLUB SE is a global manufacturer and supplier of lubricants. More than 100,000 customers worldwide, mainly from the B2B sector, use the company’s 10,000+ products and services. In order to become more efficient with regard to lubricant sales, FUCHS PETROLUB opted for a B2B-online shop: It moved away from recording orders manually – toward more intensive customer care and accessibility. During the worldwide roll-out, FUCHS PETROLUB opted for a centrally organized, global core approach. Benjamin Preißner, Project Manager E-Commerce, has been accompanying the project for over a year and gave us some exclusive insights into the goals of the B2B shop, the selection of the roll-out strategy, and the advantages of this approach.
Hello Mr. Preißner, FUCHS PETROLUB started building a B2B shop together with valantic in 2018. What was the trigger for this and what is the goal of running your own shop?
Benjamin Preißner: The B2B shop was triggered by the topic of efficiency in sales and improvement of the customer experience. We were receiving many orders via classic sales channels such as telephone and e-mail. This meant that someone had to manually type and process these orders. So we asked ourselves the question: How can we make work in the sales office more efficient and use salespeople to acquire new customers and provide more intensive support to our customers? You could also say: How could we move away from typing in orders and toward personal contact and enhancement of the customer relationship.
Of course, the customer perspective also played a very important role. The decision in favor of the B2B shop was based on customer desires. Although most orders are received during normal business hours, our customers also wanted 24/7 availability. Customers also want access to product information and normal safety data sheets outside of our business hours.
Various strategies were considered when planning the international roll-out. The decision was made for a so-called global core approach. What exactly does that mean?
Benjamin Preißner: FUCHS PETROLUB sells its products in more than 50 countries. Each country is independent in the way it does business and deals with customers – including how processes look in the SAP environment. The claim of a global, uniform shop was never at issue, because for us it is very important that we roll out group-wide specifications centrally. The only open question was how the different local conditions could be dealt with easily. The global core approach is designed to do this: We have a global template for the online shop and can quickly and easily adapt the template to local conditions, special features, and processes. This is how we give the countries their freedom, but at the same time harmonize our e-commerce processes on a global scale.
In addition to the uniform functions and processes, the template also includes the design, the connection to the ERP system – actually everything that relates to use of the shop. Distinguishing features in the countries are, for example, legal conditions, the language, and, where appropriate, the currency.
Where do you see the greatest benefits of this approach in roll-out and have these proven themselves so far?
Benjamin Preißner: From an internal point of view, one of the biggest advantages is that we get faster and thus cheaper with each roll-out over time. In the long term, maintenance of the online shop will also become more efficient. We are a comparatively small team that takes care of all shops centrally. This procedure is helpful, especially for new features or when we are rolling out new functions.
This assessment is also true: We are now live with three countries, and we are already noticing the initial learning effects and time saved. That’s great and we are optimistic that things will continue like this.
From the perspective of our global customers, this means that in the long term they will not notice any differences with regard to which shop they buy from. The shop is available 24 hours a day and it always works the same way. In addition, customers now have full transparency about the available goods and delivery dates, even without a call or email.
How has the implementation been received in the countries?
Benjamin Preißner: That’s one thing that really pleases me about this project: The enthusiasm on our teams in the different countries. Colleagues are looking forward to the new shop and have been enthusiastic about the project from the very beginning. But of course, the situation during the Corona pandemic, when classic sales by salespeople were only possible to a limited extent, has again highlighted the added value of such an e-shop.
Thank you very much for the conversation!