In this article we will explain how to increase sales in your aftermarket with industrial iot services. In previous articles about the life of innovative machine manufacturers and their aftermarket (links to the entire series can be found at the bottom), we have described the importance of having a PLM / PIM system. Itäs also important to have a digital service book, connected machines, and alarm functions. These tools are needed to create an effectively managed aftermarket. What happens if you also integrate your business system with the ERP functions?
You have then created a digital salesperson working full time for you at your customer’s location. One who is constantly looking for opportunities for additional sales in your aftermarket. As for item prices, discount letters, stock status, previous purchases, and the PLM / PIM system’s images and product information you can download it all – in your cloud solution. You don’t need to buy and maintain an external webshop thus no need to keep a new source for master data updated.
We have previously identified pitfalls and risks for sales in your aftermarket. It could be having unnecessarily expensive administration and customers that start to buy pirate spare parts. Now you can cover yourself from these risks and help your customers faster and more flawlessly with industrial iot services. Here are some tips on how to make your digital sales channel a success.
Make it easy to go from thought to order
With the alarm and trigger functions you have in your cloud solution, you can choose to give your customers data-driven purchasing suggestions. For example, a level gauge in a tank or a pressure gauge after an air filter has been replaced can alarm that consumables are running out and that the filter needs to be replaced. In the cloud solution’s so-called Event Manager, you can control the setup. You can also control the rules for how and to whom the purchase proposals are sent. Furthermore, you can notify the operator directly or note it on a list with the maintenance manager etc. It all depends on what your customer wants.
Order with one click
You also need features that makes it easy to order directly via the service book. That way you create sales in your aftermarket. In short – you need well implemented industrial iot services. It can be especially beneficial for points in the maintenance protocols where it’s difficult to get a clear answer from a sensor. The condition of a transmission belt, bushing, or gasket can quickly be spotted with the accustomed eye. A less accustomed eye may be able to get sample pictures of what the part looks like and if it is in good or bad condition. Your customer should then be able to order a new part with only one click.
A more general ordering feature should also be available. It can be difficult for an inexperienced operator to know the exact name of a spare part that it is worn or damaged. Then it’s easy to to take a picture with a mobile phone and write a few lines and send it to the support or service department. They will know more about the machine and have access to historic data. You could also make it possible for the customer to answer a questionnaire to make ordering easy and secure.
It should be easy to make the right order
Do you know that you can save huge costs spent sending the wrong spare part by postal service or via a service technician? That’s one of the benefits of having a PLM / PIM system. It can keep track of product information and customer-unique customization. As long as you enter all information correctly there, you will never have an error.
If the customer places a manual order, it must also retrieve data and product information from the same source.
For you to go through an article directory can be hard enough. Even harder when it comes to finding the right part for a complex machine. That’s why it’s important to be able to see previously ordered parts. Many PLM / PIM systems can also handle synonyms. Meaning that if you search for a power cord you will also find “electrical cable”.
Nowadays it’s technically possible to visualize a physical machine digitally via AR / VR technology. Through special glasses can you see what the machine’s parts are called by pointing to them. Unfortunately, for the majority of machine manufacturers this is not yet the reality for them. However, a 3D cutaway with zoom functions linked to PLM / PIM is perhaps the first step towards a more visual search function.
Use industrial iot services to simplify the purchase approval process
One reason why a user stops the impulse to place an order and you lose sales in your aftermarket is that many purchases have complicated routines and long processing times before you get approval. In your cloud solution, you can simplify purchasing through tailored regulations and workflows. The machine manufacturer may have to order certain types of spare parts and consumables himself, while others will require that a maintenance manager also looks at the wear before the order goes through. Eligibility can be only up to a certain amount. With a more centralized setup, the purchasing department may want aggregated lists of purchasing proposals for coordinating orders.
Regardless of the setup, it should be easy to accept the purchase at all levels with a click or approval of an entire list. Once the invoice reaches the customer, the attestations are already ready, which saves time.
It should be easy to protect yourself against piracy
We have eliminated the risks of losing orders due to phone queues and websites that are difficult to navigate and find the right parts on. Now only a major threat remains. That your customer is tempted to buy substandard spare parts and consumables from a competitor. Or a shameless pirate.
Again, the data-driven service book will be your support. All automatically generated purchase proposals should end up in the official alarm logs.
You could link the alarm’s status to the customer’s orders. For example, the alarm is transferred to the status remedied when an order number has been created or if an order has been paid for. Which control levels a purchasing alarm should have is entirely up to you and what the customer relationship allows. Most important is that the customer understands the value of having placed orders in the service book.
Industrial iot services makes it easy for the customer’s employees to work uninterrupted
Do you like websites where you’re constantly disturbed by ad messages? No-one is. Excessive sales will take away the feeling of you having good intentions towards your customer. Sales via this channel should focus on making it easier for the customer to operate the machines and support them to have a long and healthy lifespan. Therefore, only truly urgent alarms should be allowed to steal the attention in users’ work views. Minor alarms could best be seen as a view under the “Remedy” tab or similar. If the alarms are not taken care of in time, reminders are displayed more clearly. Ultimately they require reading confirmation when an operator logs on to the system. Alternatively, they can be escalated within the organization, to a supervisor or a maintenance manager.
For pure advertising and promotional offers of the type “Buy 3 air filters, pay for 2”, you can continue to use traditional marketing channels. Target these primarily to new customers. For existing customers with connected machines, however, you should only offer exactly what they need, when they need it – which undoubtedly increases customer satisfaction. So make sure you really care about the good reputation of your digital sales.
The series of articles about innovative machine manufacturers and their place in the aftermarket so far:
- The costs to avoid in your aftermarket
- Why the system support is deficient when it comes to the aftermarket
- Make money in your aftermarket with connected machines
- How your aftermarket benefits from a data-driven service book
- Industrial iot services will create sales in your aftermarket (this one)
- How to reach the goal of having great system support for your aftermarket