The machine factory KEMPER keeps up with the times and advances 2D online spare parts catalogs to expand sales in its after-sales business. Thanks to the software solution CATALOGcreator®, dealers and customers around the world have immediate access to information on spare parts and other machine-related documents, regardless of time zones.
For more than 100 years, the machine factory KEMPER GmbH & Co. KG has developed, produced and sold the best possible technology for professional users – worldwide. The agricultural engineering company is known as the leading manufacturer of harvesting headers and mounted choppers. Based in Stadtlohn in the Münsterland region, the long-established company employs a staff of approximately 335 at the 100,000 square meter premises where development, customer service and production are closely linked.
Prior to the introduction of electronic spare parts catalog software, KEMPER employees used hardcopy spare parts lists. Dealers and customers ordered the spare parts by phone, fax, or email. Inquiries were frequent, as many of the parts could not be clearly identified. Customer statements such as “in the upper right of the machine” were only accessible to very experienced staff who could determine a desired spare part by asking the right questions.
In particular, KEMPER’s customers of agricultural technology are accustomed to highly advanced working methods in their everyday business. “Satellite-controlled technology in agricultural vehicles and spare parts lists on paper for our products?” asked Christian Kersten, Head of After-Sales at KEMPER. “‘Innovation’ meets ‘Stone Age.’ This didn’t seem consistent to us, and it was no longer up-to-date.”
Another reason for the realignment of the after-sales business was the steadily growing pressure from the competition. The “gray market in spare parts management” is increasingly relying on very simple and user-friendly ordering systems to attract new customers. Thus, the original parts manufacturers are forced to offer modern purchasing possibilities for spare parts on the internet as well.
KEMPER employees contemplated methods to secure and extend the revenue in the after-sales business. They gradually developed a list of requirements for establishing an online presence for ordering spare parts. The objective was to provide a portal that was accessible 24/7, regardless of different time zones.
The online catalog’s graphic navigation not only enables rapid identification of spare parts, but it also alleviates many of the language barrier issues present during phone and email support dialogues. KEMPER delivers 80% of its products abroad; for dealers in their global network, an online spare parts catalog is a significant advancement in the service business.
In October 2012, KEMPER started with five main distributors and ten 2D catalogs on the latest products. The service department implemented the pilot project in just six weeks. Most of that time was allocated to preparing the internal IT structure, i.e. the harmonization within the group.
High-quality parts list information was already available in the company. Thanks to the Hotspot Editor – a CATALOGcreator® tool that automatically reads and hotspots various image formats – all images related to the machines could be imported comfortably with minimal rework in a batch run. Therefore, the first catalogs were available online within a short time.
In the next step, a shopping cart function was added to the Up2date webshop’s online catalog. Orders are directly forwarded via an interface to the Infor ERP system where the data is automatically retrieved and processed. Only dealers are authorized to place orders via the online catalog. For all other user groups the catalog serves purely as an information tool.
In the year following the project launch, the spare parts catalog was already accessible to the global dealer network and the end users on the internet. “Right from the beginning, the online catalog gained a high level of acceptance because it is virtually self-explanatory. It amazed us that end customers – even from China, Russia or the United States – found the link to the catalog and used it independently, although we had never actively encouraged them,” rejoiced Christian Kersten.
Thanks to the simple hotspotting feature, new ways to “play” with the system arise and make, for example, the navigation even more intuitive and easier to handle. “We are working with the current product images that we enrich with navigation hotspots. The diverse possibilities offered by the software constantly inspire us to develop new ideas ourselves.”
Experiences and Outlook
Over time further information has been added to the catalog, offering additional benefits for the user such as descriptive technical notes, pictures, videos, and installation instructions for the parts. The KEMPER online spare parts catalog contains a permission structure. Depending on their authorization, dealers and customers may receive online access to more than 60 different catalogs.
CATALOGcreator® is also used internally. Today, in addition to OEM customers, various departments such as purchasing, customer service, production, and quality assurance provide themselves with information using this comfortable tool. For these user groups, only the order function was deliberately disabled.
For summer 2016, other projects are planned to extend the potential services of the electronic catalog. In the future, KEMPER would like to offer dealers and customers an additional online catalog for special equipment that contains more marketing than service information. This catalog will use a product configurator as a special feature to provide users with different product advantages and information, such as savings costs, based on the specified machine type. Three-dimensional models and animations are also on the horizon.
Apart from the intuitive navigation in the 3D models, the Head of After-Sales explained further advantages: “As it becomes increasingly difficult to find good staff, 3D assembly instructions are very useful, for instance, for expediting the induction phase. This facilitates the work of the technicians on site and ensures high-quality service.”
KEMPER Head of After-Sales Christian Kersten summarized the experiences by saying “TID convinced us from the outset with a very flexible team and an innovative software solution. The transparent cost structure was an additional argument for our decision. CATALOGcreator® is a very reliable and robust system. Our customers are very happy using CATALOGcreator® because the tool is intuitive, easy to use, and it does not require a manual. This is especially important for export-led companies like KEMPER. We are confident that in the future we will be able to implement the constantly emerging requirements of dealers, customers and internal departments with this software solution and the TID team.”