Consider life ten years ago.
Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, the first Apple iPhone was released, Facebook finally overtook MySpace to become the most popular social media site and Amazon was an online book store.
Fast forward ten years, and the world is a different place.
Our phones, our televisions, our watches, our cars are smart. We can purchase items in stores using our phones and by waving a card at a machine. The digital world has transformed the way we live our lives forever.
Naturally these changes have driven evolution of consumer behaviour, and the customer buying journey has entered a new chapter. The digital age has revolutionised the procurement process and with this, changes to traditional sales methods are needed in order to remain current and future proof our businesses for years to come.
It is a well-known fact that sales of traditional catalogues have declined, in fact sales of the Spicers catalogue has declined over 61% over the past 6 years, and according to the MCM Report of 2017, catalogues have become the least appealing prospecting method.
Whilst at Spicers we still support the need for a catalogue as a reference tool within the marketing mix for some traditional customers, we acknowledge that the demand for a costly annual catalogue has dropped as more consumer focus goes online. We have therefore considered, how do we better engage with these new buying behaviours, in order to retain our market position? The fact that 68% of B2B buyers now prefer to research online on their own, (up from 53% in 2015)* means we have to give this platform our focus if we wish to remain in business.
Enter a new way of thinking
At Spicers we are embracing change. If the majority of our buyers are moving to online, this is where we need to focus our efforts. The recent launch of our enhanced product data has been specifically designed to give our dealers accurate, and informative product information to populate online stores and ordering platforms allowing our dealers to improve the customer experience online and increase chances of sales conversion.
This huge investment into data however, whilst incredibly powerful, did not solve the puzzle around how we can help our dealers highlight new and innovative products to our end users, and increase spend into new product sectors and categories.
After considerable analysis, we uncovered that 65% of B2B buyers were reliant upon peer recommendations for new trends, products and inspiration, this considered we concluded that social proof is a new and very powerful B2B selling tool. Therefore, if social proof, new trends and inspiration are what motivates buyers, then that is what we need to deliver.
We have considered many new ways of bringing our new and innovative products and ranges to market. We believe that by bringing innovation to life, better serving our end users by offering solutions to pain points, genuine reviews on products and engaging them with interesting content, relevant to their everyday working lives, we can win the hearts and minds of our end users, improving customer loyalty, increasing stickiness and growing spend.
This new way of working comes in the form of a catalogue that remains relevant over a longer timeframe, reduces costs to dealers’ businesses and still continues to serve as a useful reference guide, which is supported by a quarterly look book style magazine entitled “Spotlight” that showcases and highlights new products and ranges within our proposition, that historically would have been overlooked using the traditional sales method.
This new way of promoting new products and ranges, better engages the evolving buyer with features, reviews and articles that are relevant, interesting and timely.
A quarterly release allows us to bring fresh content and products to the forefront, allowing us to focus on higher margin, bigger ticket items, therefore increasing sales and margin and improving customer retention. Interesting and engaging lifestyle features, accompanied by higher margin products, draw the customer in, and highlight these bigger ticket items in a relevant and useful way. New product range features offer timely and relevant solutions to a current problem. And genuine end user product reviews foster product trust and dealer loyalty.
We are extremely excited to be launching this innovative way of promoting our products and ranges, your Spotlight magazine can be ordered via your Spicers Account Director, or via the online ordering portal here.
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*Forrester Research, 2017