PRECIOUS METALS TRANSACTIONS AS EASY AS SHOPPING ONLINE
In our daily lives, we can shop quickly and easily, everywhere and any time. When it comes to e-commerce, the B2B sector still has some catching up to do. With myHeraeus.com, Heraeus is positioning itself as a pioneer of industrial consumerism: Using the new platform, customers can conduct all their precious metal business online.
Digital technology has changed the nature of consumption. Looking for products, ordering and paying for them, canceling and evaluating transactions—in everyday life, customers expect simple and flexible solutions. Technology companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon have gained a huge competitive advantage in the B2C sector by offering their customers very user-friendly platforms and a steady flow of new services. New business models such as PayPal or Airbnb spring up, and some older models are overtaken by the digital age. But a 2018 study shows that the B2B sector is lagging far behind in this development. According to a Forrester Research market study, in 2018 only 11.5 percent of transactions between companies in the US were handled online.
“In the past, factors such as a positive customer experience have made no difference when it came to staying competitive,” says Stefan Hermes, Head of Strategy and Digitalization at Heraeus Precious Metals. “B2B customers can be resistant to change, and they have tended to put up with even complex ordering processes.”
E-commerce creates competitive advantages—even in B2B
But the market is changing: Customer demands from the B2B sector are increasingly resembling those in the end-consumer market. The buzzword for this is industrial consumerism. “Purchasers in industry are also shopping online every day outside of work. As a result, they are justifiably asking why purchasing in the industrial realm is still so complicated. After all, they don’t leave their consumer brains at home when they go to work,” says Stefan Hermes. “Therefore, with myHeraeus.com, we are deliberately focusing on the needs of our customers. We are leading the industry in this regard.”
The myHeraeus.com platform launched at the end of June 2018. The online portal enables customers to conduct all of their precious metals business digitally—from ordering to recycling, at any time and, via mobile devices, from anywhere. Heraeus has thereby raised its service to a new level: “Customers are no longer tied to office hours and their contact person, for example, if they want to look at their order history,” explains Hans-Günter Ritter, Head of Global Trading. Nevertheless, personal contact remains crucial: “While our customers readily conduct standard transactions using the tool, our traders can devote even more time to advising them on complex transactions.”
Focus on transparency and clarity
“In developing myHeraeus.com, we always tried to keep in mind the perspective of our customers. What are their needs? What really matters to them?” says Denise Ruth, Team Lead Customer Service Recycling. This has resulted in leaner processes and less paper flow, with the platform focusing on transparency and clarity. For example, customers can now check the status of their recycling order online and at any time. Also done away with, thanks to myHeraeus.com, is the laborious paperwork regarding such things as the chemical composition of recyclable materials. Highly complex recycling processes, for example, are described in just seven transparent processing steps. “We wanted to create an interface that is very lean, intuitive and easy to use,” says Denise Ruth. “This was a challenge that we worked on for a long time. It’s difficult to keep things simple.” Also for that reason, the project team talked frequently with customers throughout development and repeatedly tested the concept.
From precious metals transactions to B2C
The work paid off: “We can see that our customers are very happy to use the portal,” says Stefan Hermes with satisfaction. “This shows that we have added real value. And we’re building on that.” Stefan Hermes and his team are currently analyzing ways to further develop the platform. And then their experience will also benefit other projects. With heraeus-gold.de, Heraeus is offering gold and silver to end consumers as well. And using the platform is as simple as consumers nowadays have come to expect.