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Case study Digitalization: Digital or non-digital – still a difficult question in building industries

The three-stage sales system in building industries is faced with enormous changes. Digitalisation, as well as new sales strategies by many manufacturers, put pressure on existing structures. On the other hand, new opportunities arise in areas that are uncharted by many established suppliers.

Against this background, a commercial company commissioned us to conduct a feasibility study on the usage of digital sales channels.

This is not an easy decision for many providers in classic three-stage sales structures, since (still) a large part of the handcraft is extremely skeptical about internet-based providers and threats stopping ordering. Companies concerned about the cannibalization of the existing business and saw the risk of annoyance of long-term customers in the rather conservative market and eventually losing them.

Against this background, it was important for us to involve the employees or managers, who are responsible for the classic business, in the project and to discuss together all the results in detail.

Initially, a classical feasibility analysis was carried out. In doing so, we first developed a future positioning of the digital sales channel in the competition field as well as in relation to traditional sales. We also defined the future product range as well as the price strategy, the service level and the customer acquisition strategy.

Especially, the internal positioning of this sales channel has been discussed intensively. The main question was whether the existing sales should be augmented or a separate entity should be built up.

Finally, a scenario-based business case quantified the opportunities and risks of a further sales channel.

Meanwhile, the decision-making process has also been concluded.

This example shows how difficult it is for established companies to break new ground. Sales innovations always involves a risk of cannibalizing existing sales channels. However, here the motto should be: rather cannibalisation in the own house than by a competitor. Furthermore, it almost always turns out that in the end the sales performance grows.

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