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Helle Kinning

Multi-channel selling & how technology is driving change for businesses

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist


19th Feb 2015


Helle started the New Year by visiting Schachermayer, our Austrian distribution partner.

She had the opportunity to question Mr Andreas Niedermair, Vice President and Mr Stefan Mader, Product Marketing about how they have adapted their business model to make the most of the latest web and product technologies.

How has the business landscape in Austria changed over the past years and how have these changes shaped or impacted your business?

A.N. In Austria export is becoming more important and growth is becoming more difficult.

Austria is a high cost environment and our brands demand a higher price than those from some other countries. We have to invest in innovation and product design and then produce to an affordable quality. Price is a trigger for purchasing decisions, but even if it is expensive, it may still be purchased; branding is important.

Business is also influenced by many guidelines and laws, which can be a blessing or a curse.

S.M. There has been a huge change in terms of e-commerce. Driven by the growth and success of e-commerce in B2C, it has become increasingly important and valuable in the B2B area.

People see benefits in buying from companies like Amazon and they don’t want to miss out on these when they are at work. I think that purchasing behaviour in B2B will change a lot in the coming years.

What about new trends in furniture industry?

A.N. The inclusion of active lighting in furniture will be one of the future developments. Furthermore there are going to be different mixes of new materials and “smart furniture” - meaning the combination of furniture and smartphone functions.

Is Austrian industry quite different from your neighbouring counties?

A.N. There are some large and well known producers in Austria. But in comparison to Germany (for example) our companies are not as big. Austrian industry, in general, is more focused on producing customized items instead of mass production.

You have invested heavily into giving your clients multi-channel purchasing options, such as the recently launched web shop with mobile app for ordering -“PuSCH-App”.

How much impact and benefits will the internet have on your daily business? What has been your clients’ feedback on this new app?


A.N. We have noticed a change among our customers. Supporting customers online is becoming more important and ordering online is increasing. The internet has allowed speed and opportunity to compare products, but on the downside information overload can also be a problem. Products and services need to stand out from the crowd.

What % of your clients are using online ordering?

A.N. It is very difficult to give a clear figure, since ordering habits differ from country to country. A lot of clients look for info online and then pick up the phone to place an order or ask questions.

Our Webshop in Austria has over 300.000 visits each month. And around 300 small to medium sized companies are currently using our “PuSCH-App”, which launched in October 2014 in Austria, to place repeat orders.

It doesn’t matter how a client chooses to place an order. More important is to provide the customers with all the information they need and across all the channels.

S.M. We want to give our clients the opportunity to search for information and products around the clock. Our webshop has no opening or closing times!

In addition we provide many other services to our clients via the “Partner Portal” such as product videos, technical datasheets, installation guides, CAD drawings, etc. We’ve also installed a feedback function, so our clients can leave comments and suggest improvements.

Our “PuSCH App” offers support for controlling our clients’ stock levels.

Is online ordering used more by younger people?

A.N. Yes, but also by older generation who feel young in their heads:-)

Our next step is to ask our clients what they actually want and expect next from electronic media, rather than us telling them what they need.

But internet definitely gives us a good opportunity to answer the technical and legal questions many clients have about our product range.

E-commerce offers a marvelous opportunity to gather customer data. What opportunities may this give Schachermayer in developing each client’s “personalized shopping experience”?


S.M. The clients’ purchasing behaviour is very interesting. What info do they need? What products they are interested in? This data will allows us to tell them about new products or industry standards or whatever is relevant to them.

Many businesses, like Schachermayer, also have beautiful showrooms. How much influence will the internet have on the role of showrooms?

Would people still prefer to touch & see the products and solutions, or do you see the future being just web based with virtual showrooms? Could these two complement each other?

A.N. At the moment people still like coming to the showroom. But because of the internet, the client now has a good technical understanding of the products and wants to see how the product can be used in different applications. This has changed how we present the products in our showroom; it’s more about functionality.

For example, you can listen to music at home or go to a live performance. They complement each other. Both are important. But the experience you get is different.

S.M. As we have 95.000 products in our webshop, I do think it is necessary to have a showroom. When you want a client to invest in a product, they should have the opportunity to experience it.

Currently we have no virtual showrooms but in my opinion, for some of the product ranges, it would be really useful.

What do you predict will happen in the market in the next few years? What are your plans?

A.N. New materials and technology will influence not only design, but all future developments. Making furniture more functional for the older generation will also be a very important aspect of future design.

S.M. In my opinion, the market is a bit difficult; we need to keep ahead. We try to win new customers via our wide product range and services. As for the existing clients, we hope to inspire them with our on-trend innovations, products and services.

What would you say makes you stand out from your competitors?

A.N. We are a family company and we do business like that. We have many long term employees and that gives our clients security and quality of service.

S.M. We are not just a trading company but a family company offering top level service.

But what also makes Schachermayer unique is the large and varied product range.

As I already mentioned, we have 95.000 articles available, from tools, fittings, fasteners, doors to flooring, etc., and we have a dedicated “Partner Portal” and “PuSCH App” to help the buying journey.

What are the biggest challenges for businesses in 2015?

A.N. We want to add value by offering additional services alongside our products. Personally, I think that selling services is more complex.

Also, export can be difficult as some countries are now placing bureaucratic barriers in the way.

S.M. I think the biggest challenge in the future will be the fast changes in technology. We always need to be creative and offer fast solutions so we don’t lose that connection with the market and our partners.

What are your predictions for furniture trends in the European market for 2015 and 2016?

S.M. I think the future in the furniture industry will be customization – keyword “mass customization”. Individuality and creative solutions will be on an increase in the coming years.

https://webshop.schachermayer.com

Sue Witkowski

Fresh ideas. Innovative design.

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager


12th Dec 2014


This is the title of Accuride’s latest video.

It tells the story of how our product development teams create new ideas and then take them from the drawing board to prototype testing and beyond to a selection of very different applications and markets.

A companion brochure has also been published in English and German. Email us with your details to receive a copy.

marketingeurope@accuride.com


20th Nov 2014


Small improvements to an existing product can sometimes be as useful to the market as introducing a completely new product.

Just look at the 3832 drawer slide.

The 3832 has been around for many years and can be found across the world in many applications. Accuride’s continual re-invention of the slide has made it a best seller, and probably the most copied.

This versatile slide is what most cabinet makers would consider a ‘standard’. It has a 12.7mm thickness (½ inch), is compatible with both 32mm and traditional hole patterns, and can take loads up to 45kg, making it a good all-rounder for cabinet drawers where a side mounted slide is needed.

Breathing tabs

The first development was the addition of breathing tabs on the cabinet member. These seem pretty ordinary now, but this was an important first step in the evolution of the 3832.

The space between the cabinet and drawer is critical when fitting slides. This need for precision can make life difficult for woodworkers. So some of the fixing holes are located on a ‘breathing tab’; a small tongue of metal with a U slot around it. Because of the slot, the tip of the tongue can bend a bit out of the plane of the rest of the metal. That is, the cabinet member can pull away from the cabinet wall, just a little, to help absorb those tricky tolerances.

Disconnect

All 3832 slides include an integral quick release lever so that the user can separate the slide into the cabinet and drawer member.

This feature has two distinct advantages. The first is for the fitter. Being able to separate the parts of the slide and fit them individually onto the cabinet chassis and drawer makes the job a simple one.

Secondly, once installed, the disconnect lever is used to take the drawer out of the cabinet and put it back again without the need for tools; perhaps a benefit for the user rather than the cabinet maker.

If you are looking for user-friendly improvement, then the introduction of the cam adjuster is a perfect example.

The Cam Drawer Adjust offers installers a simple, yet precise mechanism for vertical drawer adjustment. The cam mechanism alters the vertical position of drawers by up to 4.8mm and is located at the front of the slide for easy access. It’s as simple as inserting a screwdriver and turning the mechanism to the left or right to provide the proper adjustment.

Detents are methods of holding a slide in or out without locking them.

This may seem rather simple, but it is important that the slides are held in position – you don’t want the drawers bouncing open once closed and all 3832 slides have hold-in.

Hold-out (3832DO)

The hold-out is equally important for applications such as pull out keyboard shelves, when you would need it to stay open during use.

Soft-close (3832EC)

A dampened, soft-closing drawer just feels good and this one is side mounted, rather than the usual under-mount slide used in kitchen drawers.

Self-closing (3832SC/HDSC)

Our self-closing slides ensure drawers come to a close and stay closed, keeping things looking neat and tidy. There are two options; a standard self-close and a heavier duty version, which is ideal for mobile applications such as trolley drawers.

Touch-release (3832TR/HDTR)

If you like the look of simple, clean drawer fronts or need to design for those who have difficulty grasping knobs or handles, then our touch-release products are the answer. A gentle press on the drawer front releases the drawer and propels it outward about 45mm.

Clip on brackets

More fitting options are available through the use of clip on brackets, allowing both bottom and platform mounting. These can be fitted to the standard 3832 plus DO and SC/HDSC versions from length 35cm.

3832 finish options

Zinc White Black
3832 & 3832DH 3832 3832
3832DO
3832SC 3832SC 3832SC
3832HDSC
3832TR 3832TR 3832TR
3832HDTR
3832EC 3832EC
3832EL
Brackets 633xx Brackets 633xx Brackets 633xx

Sue Witkowski

Training for successful sales

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager


24th Mar 2014


It seems obvious that if you want someone to sell your product then you must give them the tools with which to do it.

Accuride’s distribution network covers all of Europe and employs well over 1,000 sales representatives on our behalf. We want our customers to buy the correct slide for their project, so keeping our distributors up to date with our products is vital. They need to be able to understand our products and be able to specify them into a huge variety of markets and applications.

One-off training just won’t do. We are always introducing new products and discovering new markets so we need to be training continually.

We make certain that our distributors are experts on our product line and that the end customers have full confidence in them.

It is not only front line sales who need in-depth knowledge about Accuride and our products. The distributor telesales and customer services staff are also included in training sessions.

Accuride’s regional sales managers all take direct responsibility for training their own distributors. This strengthens the relationships between the staff on both sides. We will go to their premises and organise hands-on training, which will be tailored depending on the expertise and job function of the group.

Product training is just one part of Accuride’s sales success, but we think it’s an important one.

Some tips for successful training

The follow can be applied to most product training. I hope that you find it helpful.

  • Adult learners gain through two-way communication - encourage discussion through interactive sessions such as case studies and role-playing.
  • Adults learn what they see as useful to them in their situation and that are related to problems they face daily - make the content and materials relevant
  • Use their experiences as part of the sessions – this will encourage them to be involved
  • Adults are likely to have fixed points of view that can make them closed to new ways of thinking; get discussions going between you and the group and within the group
  • Make the surroundings comfortable and informal to put everyone at their ease. You should be well prepared and relaxed

Using slide presentations

Although slide shows can be useful, don’t be a slave to the screen.

Your audience cannot listen to you, look at a sample and read the slide at the same time. Add blank slides where you think you may stop to look at samples or discuss an issue or invite examples from the floor. PowerPoint is ideal for showing pictures and creating a lesson structure, but can also be boring for an audience.

Consider using flip charts for more interactive sessions.

Using training aids and hand-outs

  • Don’t have too much on the desk or on show
  • Keep the product hidden or use cloths to keep items covered during introductions
  • Only introduce items that are relevant to that session
  • Don’t pass around a product sample and continue to talk; make a statement – pass around the examples and encourage the group to discuss it. Once the discussions have come to an end, make a statement or ask a closed question to conclude the point and remove the sample from view. You can then move on
  • Hand-outs should be given at the end of a session, unless you are referring directly to them
  • Catalogues -the only time that you use these during training is when referring directly to them – make sure that the whole class is looking at the correct page.

Case studies

Use case studies from their experiences. You may find that they already have some problems or queries that you can use in class as a group discussion to find the solution.

You can also make some up to illustrate particular points and introduce role playing if you think that it will be useful and welcome. Have some case studies or application problems ready for the class to discuss.

How do I know if the training is successful?

Be clear about the objective and make sure that every point made leads to that objective.

Be clear, precise and get confirmation that each point has been understood by the group. If the session is a series of building blocks then ensure that each block is understood before moving on. Use questioning, discussion, case studies and working examples to check understanding.

Questioning is the most usual way of checking on understanding. An ‘open’ question calls for an answer which draws on experience, knowledge and judgement – often beyond the confines of the class.

When training, you need to get the audience interested and involved, so make sure that you use every opportunity to get their opinion or experience by using conversation starters or open questions.

Be sure that you know why you are asking questions (does the question meet the lesson objective?), know the answers, be sure that the students’ ideas will not be dismissed and that you can control any ensuing discussions.

You may wish to use a questionnaire to find out if your audience has found your training useful.

Lesson plans

  • Be aware of the group you are training and plan appropriately
  • Think about your objective for each session
  • Write it down in one clear sentence. This will stop you from trying to do too much and will keep your plan to the point
  • Think about the method you will use to teach this subject. For example, do you need to do a re-cap on any points prior to the main session? Consider the type of discussions you want to develop and make sure that you have the application examples ready
  • Collect together the training aids, e.g. samples, hand-outs, catalogues
  • What audio visual equipment do you need?

Summary

1. Understand your audience
Assess your audience; group size, interest and level of knowledge. Agree with your customer beforehand what result(s) you need to achieve at the end of the session.

2. Prepare the content
Structure the key messages, pulling together the relevant information. Decide on the correct visual aids, hand-outs and demo units to put across the information.

3. Create the right environment
Get the location right and be well prepared to present in that location.

4. Work on your performance
Identify what your personal style/strengths are. Understand how to build rapport with your audience. Work on voice projection and handling questions.

Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway, freerangestock.com


4th Mar 2014


Since launching the very popular linear track with recirculating ball carriage (DA0115RC), we have received a few questions about fixing the carriage to panels.

This product has proved to have many different types of applications, so we asked our engineering department for a couple of options depending on the panel thickness.

Each carriage has 2 x M5 studs and the two options illustrated show the use of a connector bolt and a Nyloc nut. These are freely available and can be bought from your own fastening supplier.

Please email your technical questions to marketingeurope@accuride.com.

What.How.When.

Planning to buy, install or use a drawer slide?
Our 'What.How.When' guide to ball bearing slides is everything you need.

Case studies...

Accuride self-closing slides used on mobile machinery base

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Accuride self-closing slides used on mobile machinery base


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