Having your own web shop as a figurehead with an appealing look and user guidance is now also common practice in the B2B context. While it has long been said that B2B and B2C are growing together, this has long been a fundamental requirement in the eyes of buyers. The outstanding customer experience, as exemplified by the big B2C brands, marketplaces, Amazon and Co., is also expected as a buyer and user in the B2B world. After all, it is the same person who also makes private online purchases.

So far so good. Declining brand loyalty, younger buyers who are increasingly researching online and buying where the process is easiest, and the disappearance of classic procurement processes have fueled this trend in recent years, even before Corona.

However, once the product has been sold, the service stops and unused potential opens up. With an after-sales shop, this potential can be used in a targeted manner, both in the B2C and in the B2B area.

After the purchase is before the purchase

The after-sales shop, if it exists, is often in a different domain. Some of them are getting on in years and are not kept in the current corporate design. The customer often needs different login data than for the primary shop and there is no exchange of customer information, such as information on maintenance intervals, self-service functions (downloading invoices or delivery notes, changing addresses, etc.) or cross-selling and upselling opportunities. In practice, the list can be expanded at will.

Due to ever-increasing competition and price pressure on the main products, they often find themselves in a permanent downward price spiral, which is also promoted by the transparency of online trading. While sales in this area can hardly be increased due to lower margins, the after-sales segment offers an alternative solution: additional sales can be generated and customer loyalty strengthened by means of supplementary and replacement products, combined with forward-looking service. In this way, price wars for the main products can be compensated for to a large extent.

Factors such as customer loyalty, a service portal tailored to the customer's wishes and strengthening the brand through uniform and user-centered support throughout the product lifecycle help here. The faster provision of spare parts and services through the connection to the purchased products as well as proactive information about service intervals and successor products enable constant sales with existing customers, which are known to be cheaper to keep than to win new ones.

With Shopware to a successful after-sales shop

However, the implementation and the way out of the dilemma for sales often fail not because of the idea, but because of the technology. Monolithic shop systems, some of which are based on old versions, make rapid implementation or connection complicated. A lack of resources in IT for a comprehensive change in these structures does not make the situation any better.

Shopware 6 provides a basis to connect these worlds and create an after-sales web shop that is able to communicate with the existing shop through the API-first approach and break down data silos. For example, the interfaces that access customer data such as order history, individual discounts and conditions or search results are built in a targeted manner, instead of having to implement comprehensive integration. A shop can be relaunched or started in the first place after a short time, which complements the existing shop and increases customer loyalty in addition to sales.

Essential for this is the increase in the degree of automation in the shop in order to gain more time for other tasks and reduce error rates as a side effect. Automation tools in Shopware, such as the Flow Builder and Rule Builder, help to set up recurring individual processes, define triggers and actions, and thereby increase the efficiency of the shop.

Because hardly anyone wants to do complicated, manual and repetitive tasks that only arise because the tools used do not communicate with each other or are built in such a way that a look under the hood is only worthwhile with a lot of background knowledge. There is also potential here for increasing employee satisfaction, because e-commerce should be fun, not just during the purchasing process, but also in day-to-day work with it.

Strategically to a successful after-sales shop

What applies to the customer relationship itself also applies to the implementation of the project: people buy from people. In addition to the pure technological basis, you should always rely on a partner who not only considers the isolated need, but always has an eye on the famous big picture: On the one hand, the entire system landscape beyond the actual shop, such as ERP, PIM, DAM or CMS systems , all of which are intertwined and each contribute their best to the overall success. On the other hand, there is the consulting aspect, which conveys the good feeling of being understood and being guided to the goal from the very first conversation.

Especially for companies and corporations whose complex IT structures need a clear way to successfully design the development in e-commerce, communicode is committed to a future-proof solution with Shopware, which both understands the important business processes and makes them profitable knows how to link. With our expertise from more than 18 years as a full-service digital agency, we support our customers with all our project experience and agile working methods. We know the motivation for new business models and understand how to make their complexity more manageable with essential fixed points.