Engineering solutions provider Weir Minerals Africa launched its e-commerce platform to the market in 2016. Dewatering product manager and person responsible for launching the platform Afzal Chothia says the e-commerce site has evolved significantly over the past two years and today has about 2 900 wear parts listed on it, compared with the 72 parts when it was first established.
The e-commerce site provides a rapid response buying channel for the company’s products and was initially geared to serve smaller customers or the cash-based customer segment.
“Being able to access an e-commerce site is a major advantage for our smaller cash-based customers as many do not have the processes in place or infrastructure to deal with traditional buying procedures. This option enables these customers to transact quickly, however, we do foresee it becoming increasingly useful across all our markets in Africa and the Middle East,” explains Chothia.
He says the platform was expanded late last year to incorporate a full credit-based facility which facilitates a faster buying experience for the customer.
He also notes that first-time users of the e-commerce platform or those who are unsure of a component or product code are able to access the customer care line and speak to a sales administrator who will assist, providing customers with the same level of service they would have received face to face.
The customer care line is also useful when the person placing the order is not as informed about the component as the person working on site. In these instances, it is possible that an incorrect part could be bought.
Online access provides customers with the advantage of 24-hour inventories that are refreshed every 15 minutes, as well as live pricing for pump components, wear parts and general consumables.
By using the credit-based facility on the e-commerce platforms, customers can open an account with Weir Minerals and buy the components on credit. This accelerates the process and makes it easier to deliver on the company’s 48-hour delivery policy, obviously provided that the components ordered are available at the branch in the region in which the customer operates or where the customer is based.
“The Weir Africa store e-commerce platform has all the functionality that customers have come to expect from such sites,” adds Chothia.
When searching for a component or part, the product code, description, delivery lead time and price is displayed, as well as an image of the item. This allows the customer to identify and confirm that the correct item is being bought.
As a value-add, the e-commerce platform suggests other items that should be included in the purchase, improving the process for the customer. As an example, Chothia mentions that when a customer buys Linatex premium rubber sheeting and adds this to the cart, a prompt will appear recommending the buying of the correct adhesives, primers and other associated products.
“This proactive function eliminates issues when customers do not buy all the necessary products to execute a task at the same time,” he adds.
The functionality extends to identifying products that other customers have bought as a bundle, and automatically prompts the buyer to do the same.
Chothia says the company also plans to improve on linking recommendations. This entails informing customers that there is a newer, more improved and compatible version of the item available. This will ensure that customers will always buy the latest components the company has to offer in South Africa.