A product is what is sold to our customers, adding value is what strengthens and differentiates the product offering from other suppliers.
In many markets there are ‘Me Too’brands or services, therefore to be able to ensure continuity of supply and future growth, we must add value to add a Point of Difference.
Further to my article Engage Customers, Expose New Revenue, which explores the ease of use in retail and merchant’s websites, I decided to look at the relationship needed from a supplier’s point of view.
Add Value With A Point Of Difference
For a supplier securing business is a priority, but maintaining
and developing business is vital. To secure one contract or order is a short term high, yet securing continuous supply from the added value of your company, personal input and after sales services is imperative.
There are many ways to offer a point of difference, one of these is to initially attain feedback from your customers.
This is an area that was covered in my article Feedback Is A Gift To Be Used, which establishes where your current portfolio or service levels are perceived currently, could be improved and measure on how to achieve this.
In addition to the feedback suppliers must also recognise ways in which they can innovative solutions to their customers, supporting various touch points of the customers business, yet retaining the suppliers brand awareness throughout.
The Latest Technology
Offering intuitive technology solutions is at the forefront of most customers agenda, with increased consumer focus on ‘exploring’ a company’s products and services or brands through the websites they provide.
In reality the website of a business now has become the global front door and visual appearance to its customers.
Therefore, what a customer views and interacts with on a company website must be both easily viewed, easy to find within its menu(s). The areas that suppliers can support this can be across a multitude of levels, such as:-
- Providing ‘Hi – Resolution’ images of their products
- Video ‘Rich Media’ to explain products features & benefits
- Video ‘Tutorials’ linked to installation or suggested use
- Product or service ‘Web Links’ direct from the customers site
- Links to ‘Branded Social Media Campaigns’ on the customers site
- Interactive ‘3D’ product guides, rotate & zoom
- ‘Product Builders’ offering examples of colours and styles to be tested
- ‘Live Chat Links’ with manufacturers for consumer confidence
- ‘Brochure Download Links’ consumer registration generated
- ‘Pre-made Brand Web Templates’for customers to choose and use
- ‘Mobile Page Support’ to ensure easily visible product views
- ‘Brand Social Media integrated Blog’ news, reviews and promotions
- ‘Customer IT Training forums’support web and social media
- ‘In-Store Interactive’ tablets or screens for the customer experience
- ‘Beacons’ NFC signals’ to drive consumer awareness in-store
- ‘Integrated Supplier on-line Ordering’ for Direct or Site Delivery
There are many more innovative and supportive ideas that can be provided to the customer from the supplier and the above only represent a snapshot of current propositions that are available.
To be able to differentiate your offer as a supplier, a minimum of 2 Alignments of service to be considered to support our customers in the current climate.
The TWO that I personally see as being important to the differentiation are:-
Both are linked and must have a strong level of synergy.
This is the area that is seen across all touch points our customers business, its Company Website, Bricks & Mortar outlets and its social media and promotional platforms.
- How does the customers business lookacross all touch points?
- How do your products appear in all locations?
- What is the knowledge and trainingacross the estate?
- What or where are product gapsacross the estate?
- What POS, Marketing or Product information is visible?
- Which are the top performing and why?
- Which are the lowest performing and why?
- What are the stock levels & average stock turn?
- What product competition is visible in-store
- What local competition does the business have in the vicinity?
- What support is visible from competitors suppliers?
This is a 365 days a year viewing gallery to the consumer.
First impressions count. If it is difficult to use from loading, then it will quickly be left by the consumer. The necessity for all digital information to be quick, succinct and visual, answering all questions is key to your customer retaining their interest and ultimately their purchases.
- What does the company’s website looklike?
- How easy to navigate is it?
- What is the visibility of your brandand products?
- Does the site work on Mobile, Tablet & PC the same?
- Is the corporate footprint the samein-store as it is digitally?
- What product information is available to view?
- What download literature is available?
- What electronic support or digital web chat is available?
- Where do they appear in the local and global site search? (Google)
- What video or interactive materialis available?
- Clearly listed Promotions and offers?
- What ‘Call to Actions’ are visible to drive store visits
- What email or newsletter/product sign ups are available?
Whilst there are many other areas that can be looked into within the support a supplier can provide its customers, these I have mentioned are a starting point.
Takeaways from this article if you are wishing to differentiate your products and service from your competition, whilst adding value as a key supplier to your customers would be:-
- Take time to understand your customers total company footprint
- Look at their competition and matrix score alongside each other.
Visual, Physical, On-Line, Displays, Offers, Locations, Brands, Corporate ID, Image quality, Mobility of website, Ease of use. Delivery, Ordering, Downloads, Web chat.
Work on as many variables as you can to show the need for change and also to show how much value could be added by you to their business
- Discuss with them what you have available to offer and the benefits
- Understand where they are and where they would like to be
- Work with them to discuss the advantages of the support offered
- Highlight case studies of other accounts you’ve added value to
- Present the ideas and solutions to represent your brand better for them
- Consistently then work to maintain the added value and new initiatives
A good article related to suppliers being customer centric and well worth a read from Experian is Customers – the centre of your marketing, your brand and your business
Other articles from Stormley Consulting