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Online B2B sales: As consumer habits change, B2B sales process evolves

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Luke Shaika, left, and Temple Johnson are part of the counter sales team at Schaedler Yesco Distribution Inc.'s Lancaster-area branch.
Luke Shaika, left, and Temple Johnson are part of the counter sales team at Schaedler Yesco Distribution Inc.'s Lancaster-area branch. - (Photo / )

The leaders at Schaedler Yesco Distribution Inc. decided to review their business-to-business sales model and concluded that it needed to be freshened up — as did the very concept of business-to-business sales, known as B2B.

“It is now B2C,” said Kimberly M. Downs, the company’s director of marketing, using the acronym for business-to-consumer.

The sales model for all companies has been evolving for years, she said. They have been adopting platforms that increase consumer interaction and ease of use in ways that mimic Amazon, which has proven to be a titan of innovation.

At Schaedler Yesco the thinking changed to “business to consumer,” even when the consumer is another business owner or manager, Downs said.

The Swatara Township-based company, which traces its roots to 1924, is a distributor of electrical, datacomm and industrial supplies. While the company has 21 locations across the state, that number is actually 22 when you count the e-commerce site, Downs noted.

An ongoing project to revamp the e-commerce platforms started months ago and will launch in phases, with the first parts going live early in the new year, Downs said. The goal is to make the site a one-stop shop for anything a customer might need – from information about products and services, to the company’s history, to an ordering system that takes into account precise specifications for various parts.

“We are in the throes of making the updates,” she said.

Because the company has been around for generations, company leaders recognize they need to have easy-to-access brochures that can be printed out and used by customers who still prefer them, as well as all modern tools that make online shopping a breeze. The site also will have an online chat function so customers can directly relate to a person as they have questions.

“We need to do business the way they want to do business,” Downs said.

In addition to the products it supplies, the company also offers a number of services, including energy-saving analysis, data-center design, industrial-automation assessments and lighting-design services, Downs said.

In rethinking its goals, the company asked for input from various stakeholders. And the in-house marketing team is working with outside vendors to develop the new site, she said.  

“The big takeaway here is that we are not making decisions in a vacuum,” Downs said.

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