Addtech is an industrial trading group with more than 140 companies in about 20 countries. Companies within the group sell technical components, systems and solutions for various niches, primarily in the manufacturing industry. The majority of these companies are active in the Nordic region, but the group also reaches continental Europe, Asia and the U.S. Addtech’s business model is built on a philosophy of growth over time through acquisitions and organic growth through the development of the companies they acquire. Responsibility for business activities is largely decentralized, but Addtech lends assistance through its extensive network and works actively on the company’s board to develop the business. Addtech also runs its own internal business school and helps companies in other areas, including digital sales and marketing.
Addtech has now taken the first steps on its journey towards increased digitization, but as a result of the decentralized organizational structure, there are large differences in terms of how far along the respective companies within the Group have come in this journey. André Sandin is responsible for digital sales and marketing at Addtech. As he describes it:
“Traditional industry can be a bit out-dated in a number of ways, and a lot of what should maybe already be digitized is still analogue. They hold meetings, participate in trade fairs and often work with printed material. But the digital arena offers brand new ways of working with sales and marketing that can help our companies improve even more. We also seen that more and more people, especially among the younger generation, are placing new demands on the modern approach to work. We have therefore felt mounting pressure to step up our digitization efforts as part of a number of investments we are making to be a group that keeps up with the times. Other investments we are making include working to promote more sustainable solutions that are in line with the UN’s global sustainable development goals.”
“PIM is an outstanding tool for increased searchability and visualization”
The level of awareness was not very high at first, and the will to invest was low. The first step was therefore to raise awareness – to inform, both the decision-makers and other employees, about the demographic change, where younger people are increasingly using digital channels to do business. André, again:
“We developed a digital vision for Addtech, which highlighted the digital challenges we face through a series of digital workshops and how these challenges were incompatible with our goal to be the market leader in technical trade. One of the main challenges we identified related to difficulties getting to the customer in the early stages of the decision-making process. In order for customers to be able to find us, every company in the group needs to have a digital presence. Another challenge was digitizing our range. It is hard to get information out there if it is only available in PDF format, especially if it is also not searchable. In many cases, we need to digitize the companies’ products and present the range of goods in a way that highlights how the products can solve the customer’s problems. Among the array of digital systems we use to visualize product catalogs and make them digitally searchable, Litium PIM stands out as an indispensable tool.”
Digitization – no quick-fix
Increasing access to the product range and increasing customer satisfaction by meeting new demands for a digital presence is thus a fundamental step in Addtech’s digital journey. The hope today is that this investment will lead to increased sales with existing customers while offering an increased level of service through an established presence on digital platforms.
To date, relatively few Addtech companies offer e-commerce solutions. Many of the group companies work extensively with value-added and customized solutions, which in many cases increases the threshold for selling online. In addition, André reports that another obstacle is the need to transform the mindset in an industry that is otherwise rather conservative. He concludes:
“We cannot forget that the industry as a whole is conservative and the mentality is often: ‘We have always done things this way, and it has always worked.’ Internal change is therefore at least as important – to transform the way we think. This is not a quick fix, and it will take time for new ways of thinking to sink in. It is not just about setting up an attractive website with eye-catching content, it is also about a long-term vision to do more business digitally and create better access for the customer in order to ultimately bring in more business and more satisfied customers. This is how we will gradually strengthen our position online.”