Siemens AG, the Munich, Germany-based conglomerate that manufactures products across several industries including power generation, transportation, health care and real estate, is relying more on the web to provide customers with product information and manage their orders, says Thorsten Reichenberger, business development manager for e-business.
Siemens separates its Internet strategy into three areas: Industry Mall for online sales, the Marketing Web for distributing promotional material and information on Siemens products, and the Siemens Industry Online Support, or SIOS, program that provides technical specifications and user manuals.
“The online channels are highly important to us, and that importance is growing,” he tells B2BecNews.
Reichenberger adds that in the past Siemens mostly viewed the Internet as a means to improve internal operations through sharing information among divisions and departments, but that in recent years, “we are more and more focused on the sales approach.” The new focus on online operations has brought Siemens to the point where now close to 70%—and at times up to 80%—of orders for items outside of its largest products, such as high-speed trains, are placed electronically either through electronic data interchange or through its Industry Mall e-commerce site, at Mall.Industry.Siemens.com. The company also processes a small amount of sales through e-marketplaces like the Ariba Network, a unit of SAP AG, though that channel is not a main part of its current sales strategy, Reichenberger says. Siemens develops its own web sites in-house.
The company reported total revenue of 78.4 billion euros (US$84.65) for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2014; it doesn’t break out revenue for e-commerce or EDI electronic sales.
Although its customers place more orders through EDI than through Mall.Industry.Siemens.com, all customers use the e-commerce site as a portal to check order status, Reichenberger says. The e-commerce site—available in separate versions for more than 50 countries—enables customers to search and navigate among dozens of industrial and commercial products, such as electric industrial motors, components used in automated manufacturing systems, and electric meters and circuit breakers used in residential buildings.
The Marketing Web program provides Siemens’ customers with an online portal for accessing and downloading product information and marketing and communications materials for marketing and promoting their Siemens products. A client hospital in the United States, for example, can access the Siemens health care marketing site at USA.healthcare.siemens.com to view and download materials that can be used in marketing campaigns and patient education programs related to the hospital’s health care services that use Siemens equipment and materials in radiation oncology procedures and mammography exams.
The SIOS program, which is available through a mobile app as well as through the SIOS web site, is designed to provide highly technical product specifications that customers may need before or after making a purchase. SIOS provides access to more than 300,000 documents on Siemens products in six languages—German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese—plus the ability to download related manuals and software applications. SIOS also lets customers use a mobile device to scan product codes to retrieve technical information and assistance from technical support personnel.
The company’s multi-part web strategy is designed to meet the wide-ranging needs of customers that access the Internet, Reichenberger says. “With the existing online landscape, we address the different needs and individual user profiles of customers,” he says. “There are engineers, purchasers, etc., which have different requirements to be fulfilled. The customer can find all necessary product details—for instance, data sheets, software products, price information, manuals, FAQs—all online for their specific needs.”
Siemens’ online strategy is also helping it to better understand customers’ interests—a process the company will continue to work on, Reichenberger says. “What needs more attention is to obtain a 360-degree view of the customer,” he says.
Meantime, he adds, Siemens is exploring additional online marketing efforts, including exposure through social media, and planning additional ways to interact with customers through e-commerce. “We will continuously innovate our e-commerce operations, and add new features,” he says.
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