Four out of five German companies (82 percent) sell their products and services online according to a representative survey of 503 German companies with more than 20 employees carried out at the end of 2016 by the digital association Bitkom.
Surprisingly, export-oriented industrial Germany is at the opposite end of the spectrum in the B2B sector. In August 2016 the business consultancy T&O surveyed over 200 German companies regarding their use of online shops. Both SMEs and big corporations were included in the sample. "The study shows that currently only ten percent of the companies in the metalworking and electrical industries surveyed have their own online shop," states T&O. 84 percent of the companies surveyed without an online shop could only be contacted digitally via a contact form or e-mail with no online catalog support.
T&O project leader Gunnar Schmidt concludes "that the B2B e-commerce sector harbors enormous potential for SMEs in particular." The introduction of an online shop system as part of digitalization is "a complicated, but frequently very profitable endeavor." According to Schmidt, the corresponding expansion of traditional distribution channels provides "clear advantages" in the B2B sector.
Karnasch Professional Tools GmbH from Heddesheim shows what systematic digitalization in a medium-sized company can do. This provider of high-performance tools manufactures 800 products with different variations – for a total of over 25,000 articles. "More than 95 percent of all articles can be delivered off the shelf," explains Olivier Karnasch, Head of IT. Customers come from tool and mold design and construction, aerospace technology, the automotive industry, shipbuilding, plastics processing, and the CFRP/GRP sectors. Around 200 orders are processed daily and up to 50 items are delivered per order. Nine out of ten Karnasch orders are processed by retailers, the rest go directly to industrial customers.
"The regular availability of our products in more than 50 countries around the world is guaranteed by intelligent warehousing," says Olivier Karnasch. The ERP system ALPHAPLAN with its associated online shop provides for smooth workflow.
"The ALPHAPLAN Internet shop unlocks new sales channels for customers," explains ALPHAPLAN provider, CVS Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH from Bremen (CeBIT Hall 5, Stand E18)." By directly connecting merchandise management, other individually generated interfaces are not needed. Offers and innovations, availability, and current inventory are shown in the shop. "All the prices and rebate models from the ERP system can be used online. Simple inquiries are possible via the shop, along with a quick overview of open and completed orders."
In order to address and expand its market in the USA in particular, Karnasch provides its customers with 24/7 online ordering with a direct link to the inventory management system. Address, article and stock information can be gathered from ERP "The online shop reproduces standard inventory management retail processes to the greatest extent possible," explains Robert Lüers, Head of Sales at CVS. "The time and effort spend in data management is greatly reduced and analysis options are maximized." Integrating third-party systems is also possible.
Other practical examples regarding digitalization in SMEs can be found in the new special display Digitalization Live in Hall 5. Solutions from the areas of production, trade & mobility, and after sales/financial services will be presented directly to customers.