Using GEAR to accelerate your B2B customer portal transformation 4/4

David van der Hoop
Technical Director B2B at Valtech
Daryna Kruty
B2B Digital Transformation Consultant at Valtech

junho 10, 2024

Over the last three entries in this blog series, we’ve explored the importance and future impact of customer portals on B2B manufacturers. But is there a simple or fast way to build the portals customers have grown to expect? In this final blog, we’ll dive into the question of how companies can make the needed transition.

Part 4 of our “Customer portals: The next big thing in B2B manufacturing” series

So far, our Customer Portals: The Next Big Thing in B2B Manufacturing series has covered important topics for the inustry. We’ve looked at the current state of B2B manufacturing, detailed the driving forces behind digitalization in manufacturing, and most recently we dove deep into the strategies behind composable architecture for B2B manufacturers. This final entry will help you get into action and accelerate! Let’s explore how you can apply the composable mindset and architecture in practice and speed up the development of your customer portal through the unique tools available from Valtech and commercetools.

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Introducing: GEAR

GEAR is a composable accelerator designed specifically for the common customer portal features seen in the B2B industrial manufacturing sector. Based on the framework of commercetools, it aims to speed up the development of digital service offerings, including asset management, aftermarket sales (digital commerce), online assistance, field services and a training catalog. GEAR offers a unified front-end that integrates these services, and thus creates a consistent customer journey.

Future-ready and flexible foundation

GEAR is built on commercetools, on a 100% composable architecture. It is easily extensible and customizable, allowing for fast adaptation to your specific business requirements.

Shorter development time

GEAR saves a significant amount of time in developing your customer portal, as it already includes out-of–the-box features common for B2B manufacturing and an Azure AD integration.

Modern and modular tech stack

GEAR is built with popular coding frameworks like React, Next, and Typescript in a modular, componentized structure, allowing for easy support and expansion. Additionally, it already runs on IaC (Infrastructure as Code), simplifying and de-risking the infrastructure management.

What is an accelerator?

A software accelerator is a tool or set of tools designed to speed up development, testing, and deployment of software applications. Accelerators typically provide pre-built code, templates and libraries, allowing developers to focus on customization and specific functionalities, thereby reducing the overall time and effort required to bring a software project to completion.

Strategic advantages of using GEAR

Choosing to accelerate your customer portal initiative with GEAR brings about tangible business benefits.

Shorter time to market

The ready-to-go feature set gives you leverage for fast deployment and customization, kickstarting development in mere days.

Early ROI

The GEAR portal built with Valtech’s deep industry knowledge of the best practices and functionalities lets you launch POCs (proofs of concept) and MVPs (minimum viable products) faster.

Focus on the market differentiators

While GEAR is taking care of the foundational basics, you can spend your time working on differentiating features, unique to your business and industry.

Increasing digital maturity

GEAR is a convenient steppingstone for building up a customer portal. It provides a composable foundation that is a great support for manufacturers with an emerging or advancing level of digital maturity.

How GEAR supports your customer portal initiative

GEAR provides your customers with a comprehensive view of your assets spread across various locations. It exposes equipment structures, bill of materials, operating and maintenance manuals and more.  GEAR optimizes maintenance workflows and reduces downtime by identifying links to the necessary parts, fix-it kits, and consumables related to the installed base.

It’s an important tool for logistics functions as it provides overview, management and tracking of the installed base inventory. Meanwhile, providing users with easy access to critical installed base-related documentation related to operations and compliance and reports and contracts, creating a single source of truth for all users.

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Accelerate selling spare parts with GEAR

GEAR uses commercetools’ headless digital commerce platform to expedite the spare parts shop development. Using the APIs, it incorporates essential commerce functionalities tailored to B2B. Customer-specific catalogs and pricing allow you to tailor your offerings while order approval and quote request workflows facilitate your customers’ sales operations.

With GEAR helping to accelerate your customer portal, you’ll benefit from efficient transaction management with adjustable checkout flows, including address selection, order placement and order history. This will help to elevate your spare parts selling processes by making it easier for your customers to find the right parts to service the equipment they’ve previously ordered from you. Creating a flexible ordering process and increasing customer loyalty.

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Accelerate support and customer collaboration with GEAR

GEAR helps you facilitate the information flow towards your customers and provides a simple integration of your existing customer support software into the one-stop-shop customer portal. Granting you easy access to customer-specific contact information and integrated service ticket management, simplifying access to support.

With GEAR, you’ll benefit from timely notifications about various updates and events that you wish to share, giving you more control over your digital environment and a stronger ability to collaborate with your customers in real time. Self-service user management also enhances this collaboration potential by adding and removing users, assigning roles and access to different entities in the customer organization. 

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Accelerate knowledge sharing and training with GEAR

GEAR supports you in disseminating knowledge and promoting training opportunities to your customers. An overview of the training portfolio promotes product knowledge among the customers. While the ability to request standard or tailored training sessions, catering to specific needs and enhancing skills, allows crucial information to be delivered in the manner most helpful to the person learning. A knowledge base, FAQs and document library that you can populate with the most important information helps you to support self-service learning and problem-solving. 

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Shift into GEAR and accelerate B2B success

In short, Valtech’s GEAR customer portal accelerator based on commercetools, helps B2B manufacturers to speed up their initiatives to provide digital services to their customers in a unified customer experience. Using GEAR allows you to keep your competitive edge in the digital space and deliver good customer experiences, while lowering the risks of initiating new digital projects and getting a faster return on investment.

As we have seen, industrial manufacturers have a lot of challenges to deal with. Customers demand a unified way of working with your organization and expect an effortless way of doing business. However, there are barriers like a scattered IT landscape with a lot of interdependencies, an organization that is not embracing the change and low data quality, often scattered throughout different departments. These barriers prevent manufacturers from moving forward. Componentizing can be the answer, and GEAR is designed to help make that process much easier than ever before.

What do you think? We would love to hear more about how you see this.

 

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