Nisbets CEO Klaus Goeldenbot has described the forensic way in which the company is crunching data in a bid to keep itself at the forefront of the catering equipment supply market worldwide.
The Bristol-based company is the UK’s largest supplier of commercial kitchen products with annual sales of nearly £400m and operates a strategy that encompasses online sales, retail stores, telesales and direct account management.
Speaking at the CESA Conference on Friday, Mr Goeldenbot said its approach was very much based around “digital with a human touch”, reflecting the rapid growth of its online channel but also recognising that many customers still prefer to speak with a person.
He said the company was using the vast quantities of data that it collects every day to establish how best to serve customers, including using predictive analytics.
“We use the data that we get from our digital experience from our website to help our front-facing agents to deliver better customer experience,” he explained. “Every month we get tens of thousands of new customers and we can use algorithms to identify which ones are the gems and the future stars, and therefore need a human touch to make them really develop. That can be done through predictive analysis, and that is a tool we use to almost accelerate the human touch treatment of those potential customers and make sure they get a human interface very early on in the experience because we believe, based on the insight they have, they can become a really valuable customer one day.”
Mr Goeldenbot said that predictive analytics was an approach that Nisbets has adopted from the consumer world and said it starts with having access to the right customer data in the first place.
“You need to collect a certain amount of data fields, and once you have got that, then you run predictive algorithms. We have got some clever people in our ecommerce team, who live and breathe numbers and they basically program it. It gives you a relatively high chance to predict which of those customers you should look after through the human touch.”
Nisbets will be 35-years-old this year and now trades in 100 countries. It employs 2,000 staff, with 1,600 of those based in the UK. It serves more than one million customers around the world every year.
Mr Goeldenbot added: “Online is the biggest and fastest growing channel at Nisbets, we are talking north of 30% now and it is growing in double-digit figures. We have 31 local language websites around the world and we get one million visits around the world per month, where customers come to our website and search for product, search for advice and search for solutions. We have around 25,000 different products available for our end-customers and we feature about 2,500 of those with video content.”
During his keynote speech, Mr Goeldenbot also revealed that Nisbets is about to launch a formal sales academy for existing and prospective staff.
“The big challenge, but also opportunity, is to constantly develop your customer-facing teams and it is all about making sure you have got great people who are really satisfied, because if they are satisfied they will do a better job for the customer and they want to delight the customer.
“We are in the middle of the process of building a sales academy – we have had some training at Nisbets but we didn’t have enough, and we are now building the foundations of lifelong learning and lifelong training with a sales academy that we are literally starting as we speak.”
Meanwhile, during a Q&A session at the conference, Mr Goeldenbot confirmed that Nisbets had recently sent a “note” to supplier partners, requesting that they don’t raise prices in the run-up to the New Year.
He explained: “The reason for that was we just wanted to trigger a conversation about the fact there is a lot happening in the industry, especially price pressure, and we want to make sure we minimise that for our end-customers.
“We’ve had a lot of reactions to that letter, where suppliers have asked to sit down and have a conversation about this. This will explore what we can do better and how we can help each other to become efficient and effective so that price pressure hopefully reduces.”
He added that Nisbets was working with a number of suppliers on the digital element of their relationship, in order to establish how to present their product ranges in the best way, and assist those who are not e-commerce savvy to continue to develop their business.