Business-to-business e-commerce is taking off at KLX Aerospace Solutions.
The distributor of fasteners, bearings and other parts for airplanes recently relaunched its site to suit the changing needs and shopping expectations of its business buyers, says Sam Schofield, strategic pricing manager. He declines to provide sales, financial information or specify what portion of KLX’s sales are processed online at ShopKLX.com, but says total revenue is projected to more than double year over year in 2016, and that e-commerce revenue is growing faster than total revenue.
Helping to drive growth is a recent boom in aircraft manufacturing, and more customers purchasing on ShopKLX.com, Schofield says. “More aircrafts are being made today than ever before,” he says. KLX sells to thousands of airlines across the world, as well as aircraft manufacturers like The Boeing Company and Airbus SAS.
KLX’s large product catalog and wide variety of customers around the world contributed to its decision to relaunch its site. The distributor had been selling online since 1996 through a proprietary system that didn’t offer many features to business customers, Schofield says. “More and more of our buyers are looking for that business-to-consumer experience, they’re used to buying everything else online,” Schofield says. “We’ve followed what our customers were asking for. Our product portfolio really lends itself well to an e-commerce solution. We have 800,000 products and thousands of customers, so the idea of self-service, and helping our customer quickly look for what we have and what’s the price, it’s very ripe for what we do.”
After KLX analyzed sites in late 2014 operated by online powerhouses like Grainger Inc.—a distributor of business and industrial products that Schofield calls the gold standard of e-commerce—KLX launched ShopKLX.com, which is built on Oracle Corp.’s Oracle Commerce software. The new site is integrated with KLX’s homegrown enterprise resource planning, or ERP system, which it uses to organize information on inventory, financial records and customer activity. This allows KLX to display updated information on customer order history, shipping information, pricing and product data online.
“You can’t sell something if you say, ‘Oh I might have it today, or I might have it tomorrow,’” Schofield says. “Aircrafts on the ground or in a hangar cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in a day. Minutes and hours count. We can’t take the risk of any sort of delay in our product or shipping information. It’s not what our customers expect.”
Buyers can also choose the kinds of products they want to see on ShopKLX.com. A buyer located in the United States, for example, may only want to buy products available at KLX warehouses in North America. They can choose this attribute when creating their buyer profile, and the website will automatically adjust to only show products available in this region. “If I have a warehouse here and a customer there, the customer can only see product inventory in a part of the world of their choosing,” Schofield says.
Since the site launch, the distributor has devoted its sales reps’ time to getting customers registered on ShopKLX.com. Reps started with customers that just wanted to place online orders, and then, and then on-boarded customers that required advanced shipping or pricing options, Schofield says. As the company registered more complex customers on the site, it developed additional digital functions for them, such as connecting more of its 500 global warehouses to fulfill orders from the e-commerce site or adding additional shipping options. KLX offers some 120 shipping options to its customers, which can vary based on provider, speed or cost.
KLX’s online growth in 2016 can be partially attributed to more customers purchasing on KLX’s business site, Schofield says. “It’s a completely different way for our customer to do business with us,” he says. “That requires some extra care and attention to our customer on our part to make sure they’ll be comfortable with the new sales channel.”
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