Schneider Electric is best known for its digital energy and automation solutions, designed for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries. As a digital-based business, e-commerce has been on Schneider Electric’s cards for some time, as the pandemic has accelerated the need for more efficient digital channels and facilitating seamless touchpoints with customers. This pivotal transformation saw Schneider Electric win bronze for Best in eCommerce (Brands) – B2B, as well as Best eCommerce Campaign – B2B, at INTERACTIVE-MARKETING‘s Asia eCommerce Awards 2021.
In an interview, Romaric Ernst (pictured), Vice President of EAJ Business Development, Schneider Electric, shared with INTERACTIVE-MARKETING on the company’s digitization process and how, in its e-commerce transformation, it developed a more customer-centric approach that would serve customers more effectively in their buying journey.
This interview is conducted as part of the MARKETING-INTERACTIVE Winners and Finalists Interview Series for the Asia eCommerce Awards 2021. Read more about the awards here.
What has the past two years been like for you given the sudden shift to e-commerce?
Ernst: Our ambition to develop a solid e-commerce channel is not new. But certainly the pandemic has accelerated the need to transform and leverage digital capabilities to effectively serve our customers. We focused on improving our customers’ digital experience by developing a true omnichannel strategy and creating a customer-centric e-commerce organization.
In Malaysia in particular, we have made significant progress in strengthening the way we delight our customers throughout their buying journey. To support our partners in this transformation, we have designed a tailor-made online customer acquisition program (O2O program). With this approach, we seek to lead our organization to go beyond the limits of traditional sales channels.
We don’t expect to transform and succeed overnight. But we want to scale with speed and agility, experimenting with new tools and tactics to learn and eventually be able to deliver a positive end-to-end experience for our partners and customers at every touchpoint in their buying journey.
What challenge surprised you and how did you pivot?
Ernst: One of the main reasons for Schneider Electric’s success is our strong network of partners. When we started our e-commerce journey five years ago, one of the first priorities was to get our entire ecosystem on board in this transformation. Our initial goal was to support our partners in building their e-commerce websites by giving some platform and database suggestions. However, in a relatively traditional industry, not all partners were ready to go digital at the same speed or with their own online stores.
We realized we needed to build a more holistic collaboration framework to drive agility and innovation. Over time, we developed a variety of enablement programs and e-commerce initiatives to be able to support our ecosystem regardless of their level of maturity and the platforms they wanted to use. We have become more enterprising and nimble in order to embrace ever-changing e-commerce trends.
With the opening of the markets, what trends are you monitoring?
Ernst: Although physical stores and offline businesses are recovering now, we see that the pandemic has pushed customer behaviors towards digitalization, and this will have a lasting effect even after the pandemic is over. So we want to provide options for customers to meet their needs, leveraging different models to give them choice, convenience and agility.
So, it’s also important for us to find ways to integrate e-commerce into our traditional offline activities and make the buying journey more transparent and connected. With e-commerce, customers can easily access a wealth of information, they can purchase products or services anytime and anywhere, often with same-day delivery.
In Malaysia, the government aims to boost digital transformation by providing various incentives to SMEs. This encourages marketplaces to actively recruit sellers. This is an opportunity for businesses to diversify their sales channels, driving the explosive growth of e-commerce. As changing customer behavior correlates with advances in technology, we are committed to increasing our capabilities and working with our partners to adopt omnichannel strategies to drive immediate sales results and prepare for the future.
What do you think makes good marketing these days?
Ernst: At Schneider Electric, we are responding to the growing customer preference for buying online by focusing on offering an end-to-end solution, with marketing being one of the elements. We believe that good marketing is about communicating with the right audience in a meaningful way and in the right context. Importantly, the following factors will help us have a greater impact on our ecosystem and take our business to the next level.
- Personalized content that reflects a client’s specific needs and creates unique connections
- A distinct Schneider Electric signature to consistently delight our customers
- Robust data analytics to support campaign design and performance management
- Processes and tools for collecting feedback from partners and customers
- Spirit of innovation: try often, fail fast, learn, keep trying and improve
What do you think of your victory?
Ernst: We are extremely honored to receive this award. This is the first e-commerce award we have received for this region and I am proud that our efforts to digitize our channel and develop a new avenue for growth have been recognized. Without the enormous contribution of our team in Malaysia, we might not have been able to achieve this level of success. I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication. Going forward, Schneider Electric will continue to expand its e-commerce business in the region to stay relevant and better serve its customers.