For both parties, buying and selling includes the exciting desire to obtain a benefit or advantage from the transaction in addition to merely meeting a need. This simple fact has not really changed since people first started bartering.You interact with people whom you are offering a good or service and in the process, you come into contact with the widest possible variety of personalities from the extremely introverted to the overly extroverted. When talking with them, you get to know their wishes and can exchange points of view that ideally will lead to the customer placing an order.
“For me, being a sales representative is the best profession I can imagine.”
A great deal has changed in the relationship between buyer and seller during my more than 68-year career. Whereas in the past our customers primarily bought products through our sales representatives, Würth has since established multiple ordering channels over the years for its customers. In Germany alone, we have a tight network of over 430 branch offices – and more than 1700 around the world.
PROF. DR. H. C. MULT.
At these locations, our customers can pick up products they urgently need right away or have them delivered within a few short hours. For our customers who are more web-savvy, we offer the option of making purchases electronically in our Onlineshop. This platform is continuously being updated and improved. In the spirit of the tagline CLOSE. CLOSER. WÜRTH!, we want to make the purchasing experience for our customers as simple and convenient as possible when selecting from among the 125,000 products included in our assortment. With sound advice and excellent service in superior quality.
The customer is always right.
This is true now more than ever. When customers are looking to make a purchase, they have a variety of options available: going to the store, surfing on the online shop, placing an order via app, browsing through a printed catalog, or meeting with a sales representative who makes a personal visit. With so many options available, it is not always easy for customers to figure out which of these options is the best way for them to shop. One can quickly get lost in this veritably jungle of options.
“The customer becomes an artist who must master one discipline: buying.”
Würth supports its customers when mastering this skill and helps them find the ideal solution for their personal needs. After all, the arts need not be tedious. Würth offers the following alternatives, among others, which are available to customers in order to meet their individual needs: a multi-vendor platform from the start-up Wucato, the classic option of our branch offices, the modern option of online and app-based shopping, and the personal attention of our sales force in the field. An overview.
WUCATO: ZALANDO FOR THE MIDDLE MARKET
Wucato, as Würth’s newest sales channel is known, represents a creative turn of phrase. It is composed of three elements: Würth – Catalog – Online. This young start-up, which traces its roots back to Würth, offers some 500,000 products from a single source via its online platform. In other words, a Zalando of sorts for the middle market and small conglomerates, but with a product range that is much larger and more varied. “Our products not only include Würth Group fastening systems and tools, but products from other suppliers as well,” notes Wucato Managing Director Johannes Keller when describing the product assortment for craftspeople and industrial needs.
Currently, twelve employees manage the business activities for WUCATO Marketplace GmbH, headquartered in a spacious office within the district of Stuttgart, Germany. The team is a motley group of experienced former Würth employees and young college graduates. Wucato’s second managing director, Christian Berndt, collaborated on establishing Würth’s online strategy.
WÜRTH & WUCATO – TRADITION MEETS INNOVATION
“We are a mix of both worlds,” remarks Keller, referring to the support and security provided by the Würth parent company on the one hand and the high level of innovation and decision-making independence typical of a start-up on the other. According to Keller, using this arrangement and agile project management made it possible to develop a platform that is closely aligned with customer needs and to go live in just one year’s time.
“Web-savvy customers have had the opportunity to standardize and increase the efficiency of their procurement processes with the help of Wucato since December 2016.”
All ordering and billing processes are bundled together. At the same time, electronic procurement via the e-commerce marketplace also offers companies a high degree of transparency. Johannes Keller: “It is possible to establish and monitor budgets for individual user groups.”Using the broad range of functions is largely intuitive. However, customers do receive training from a Wucato staff member.
Goals for the 2017 fiscal year? Johannes Keller smiles mischievously: “Wucato’s goal is to have sales securely within the seven-figure range.” There it is: ambition à la Würth.
DIVERSITY IN BRANCH OFFICES: CHOICE SELECTION OF FEWER THAN 5,000 PRODUCTS
Würth is proud of this: At more than 430 branch offices throughout Germany, customers can find around 5,000 products that have been organized based on the same principle and that are available for their immediate needs. The product portfolio is truly diverse – including products from the sectors wood, construction, metal, electrical, plumbing, cars, commercial vehicles, and agriculture. Branch office salesman Thomas Wolf from the Würth branch office in Künzelsau-Gaisbach, Germany who has been in the business for more than 20 years, shares his colleague’s belief that this type of buying experience will continue to grow. “When I started at Würth in 1993, there were only 60 branch offices. Today, there are more than 430 and this number just keeps growing.” The reason for this is obvious: the items are displayed on the shelves in an organized fashion. A sample is available for every product. According to Thomas Wolf, the most store traffic takes place between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and again after around 4:00 p.m. Some customers only have a single cartridge in their shopping carts, while others have 20 to 30 items.
“The salespersons receive training several times a year and have extensive expertise.”
Wolf provides an example: “Anyone who wants to install an anchor in a public space needs to find a product that is a precise match for the substrate and component thickness and that is designed for the required tensile load. This requires competent advice.” Würth also considers the well-being of its customers – free coffee and beverages are available in every branch office. This kind of personal service fosters a feeling of togetherness: “There are many customers who have been shopping at the same store for decades,” remarks Thomas Wolf, “some even for generations.”
BUY PRODUCTS ONLINE OR IN THE APP LIKE THE WIND
That sounds like the height of convenience: according to Philip Harm, the Würth online shop offers an entire “bouquet of functions.” And Harm should know: he is the team leader for shop management and app development and has been working at Würth in Künzelsau for 15 years now. Customers have been able to order Würth products via the online shop since the end of the 1990s: this makes Würth a pioneer in the German market. The Würth app was added in 2010. Some 125,000 products are available via these two channels. “This is the classic Würth core assortment,” explains Philip Harm. Speaking of the app: according to Harm, this is the “extended arm of the online shop” and even has a unique selling point compared to the online shop – the Würth instant service. Customers can order products using the app and have them delivered to a Würth branch office within a radius of 30 kilometers.
It may be the case that customers will continue to make greater use of the online shop than the app, “but when service technicians in the field need additional tools, for example, the latter is the right tool to purchase what they need,” claims Philip Harm. Practical: the same login details are valid for both buying channels; customers will find the same settings and the same authorizations.
FLEXIBLE ACCESS TO TOOLS AND MATERIALS
SSC Wind GmbH, a provider of technical services in the wind power sector located in the Oldenburg district of Lower Saxony, is an enthusiastic user of this sales channel in addition to the telephone ordering service and sales representatives. Patrick Kania, technical manager at SSC Wind, appreciates the flexibility offered by the online shop: “We order a lot of products from Würth, for example: electrical tools such as drills, impact wrenches and cordless screwdrivers, or materials such as insulating tape and respirators. All in all, we order some 3,000 items.” With such a comprehensive portfolio, he says that it is practical for SSC Wind site managers to independently and autonomously order the products they need.
FANTASY FIGURES MADE OF WOOD AND GLUE
A wooden table underneath a gently creased wooden tablecloth, a wooden tree whose root system wraps around a small tower with shelves, a wooden ibis with drawers incorporated into its outstretched, lemon-yellow body: Hungarian artist Antal Sprok designs and builds unique wooden sculptures and furniture. Sprok, who lives in Budapest, has been a loyal customer of Würth Hungary since it was founded in 1987.
“I can only create my works of art using high-quality products, like those from Würth.”
The two materials that are most important to Sprok are Würth’s wood glue and cold wood glue D3. He uses this glue to assemble the individual pieces before sanding them smooth down to one-tenth of a decimeter. In many cases, it takes a month before one of his unmistakably unique creations is ready. Sprok loves challenges: “My work is composed of many steps requiring the use of many different tools. And I am constantly experimenting with new techniques.”
LIFE COMES FULL CIRCLE: SPROK’S ARTWORK IN THE WÜRTH ART COLLECTION
To cover his special needs – in addition to glue, Sprok buys various tools and woodworking accessories from Würth for drilling, sawing and oiling – the woodworking artist, born in Nagymágocs in 1955, places his orders primarily by telephone or by email with Würth sales representative Adrienn Soltész. “I enjoy the personal relationship with Ms. Soltész. In addition, in-depth advice and reliability are very important to me – and that is what Würth offers.” Antal Sprok’s creations are so unusual that they have also found their way into the Würth art collection.