Q&A: Klaus Werner, chief marketing officer of Global Industrial Co., addresses how the distributor connects with customers. At the EnvisionB2B Conference & Exhibition, he will speak on his company’s NASCAR race car sponsorship as part of an overall effective marketing strategy.

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Klaus Werner

Klaus Werner is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Global Industrial Co., a billion-dollar industrial products distributor that processes more than half of its sales transactions via ecommerce. At the EnvisionB2B Conference & Exhibition, he will speak about his company’s NASCAR race car sponsorship as part of an overall effective marketing strategy.

In this Q&A article, he addresses significant B2B digital commerce and marketing trends.

DC360: What is driving B2B companies like Global Industrial to expand online?

Werner: The increase in B2B ecommerce simply reflects changes in the market and the customer demand environment. Ecommerce has been a strong and growing component of the B2B market for many years. The pandemic accelerated the digital trends that were already in the market. Global Industrial has a strong and long history of ecommerce leadership. We have been able to leverage our digital expertise to support and drive our growth. Likewise, when combined with our one-to-one sales team, we believe we provide a very compelling and value additive omnichannel experience to customers.

DC360: What are your biggest internal or and external barriers?

Firstly, navigating external forces such as inflation, supply chain challenges, and finding the right talent.

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Driving continuous innovation and a focus on the customer are keys to long-term success. Organizations need to consistently listen to their customer and stay ahead of the competition. Ensuring the entire organization is focused and driving forward to improve the customer experience is something we work towards every day.

DC360: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?

We are deepening engagement with customers, as we build stronger partnership and play a more active role to help address their challenges and succeed. Also, we are enhancing awareness of the Global Industrial brand and the solutions we offer across a broader customer base — in terms of both the end markets we serve and the absolute number of customers we reach.

DC360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them? 

Listen to your customer. Deliver what they want and need and do it flawlessly.

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DC360: Regarding COVID-19 and supply chain disruption, what is the biggest adaption your company has made?

Today, each team member has a greater situational awareness of how their decisions impact the supply chain. This has resulted in improved communications and planning throughout the organization and provided for a more proactive approach to managing the supply chain items within our control.

DC360: Looking back over the past few years, is there anything you wish you had done differently in ecommerce?

Also, we should have invested in a responsive site that is more easily accessed on mobile devices sooner. The good news is that the new site is already in alpha. And, it is moving to beta very quickly, so Global Industrial can get it out to our customers this summer.

Ecommerce can be a very transactional and an impersonal experience. We have always provided value to the customer both online and through our one-to-one sales team. That did not always come through to the customer. However, today, that is front-and-center as part of the commitment and service we provide.

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DC360: What excites you the most in new digital commerce technology?

Advancements in personalization utilizing data analytics are really exciting. Digital has historically been a one-to-many platform. The ability to communicate one-to-one through a highly personalized and relevant digital message is powerful.

DC360: Going forward, what do you see as the most significant commerce challenges and opportunities? 

Challenge: Cutting through the digital clutter and differentiating ourselves in a very fragmented.

Opportunity: Deliver B2C-like experiences to the B2B marketplace and deliver a truly personalized marketing message that is highly relevant to the recipient and allows us to continue to grow the business. Particularly, as we expand into new verticals, we’ll have the opportunity to present the customers in these verticals with a very personalized and relevant online experience.

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Werner will speak at EnvisionB2B on Friday, June 10, on “Accelerating Digital Marketing with NASCAR Exposure.”

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