Maneki-neko “Dear customer, please come in”

2 min read
Oct 1, 2023 9:01:45 PM

I got this little figurine from my daughter after her return from working in Japan for a year. It’s commonly displayed at the entrance of a business and brings good fortune. It’s paw is beckoning: “Dear customer, please come in!”. Well, isn’t that something we all want for our business?

The easy shortcut to digital transformation is obviously e-Commerce, social selling and other digital techniques originating from B2C marketing. They bring our physical Maneki-neko located at the traditional front door of our own business such as a shop in digital form to the front door of the customer on his smart phone or laptop. All advertising revenue driven tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon have ridden this wave.

Is this sustainable going forward? I think we all feel inside that this can’t be the (only) answer. Take Dutch e-Commerce hero CoolBlue for example. They have taken the white goods and electronics market by storm and had fantastic growth but have started to suffer because the customer service experience wasn’t up to the same level and consumers are starting to notice that and avoid them. It’s nice to have Maneki-neko at your front door, but we actually need one at the back door as well to make sure the customer keeps coming back!

“Dear supplier, please come in! ” Making it easy for your supplier to do digital business with you requires a different mindset.

All too often the traditional mindset is that the supplier should adjust to our wishes, give more discount and just deliver on time (regardless of when we mailed him the last change). The new mindset is how to delight your suppliers so they provide you with better service and fulfillment than your competitor. Not because you buy more of their products and services, but because you are easier to work with and they make more money with less hassle.

We make this transition with the first existing customers using the previous wave of collaboration and integration tools and new customers. The “easy” model of deploying bite-size apps tailored to the role specific “supplier user journey” on the open Tradeshift Platform actually delivers that. Working from their own profile and the way they run their business, they incorporate all the supply chain relevant feeds from their customer. And it works:

We recently transitioned a buyer with over 500 suppliers from “portal” to “apps” exchanging more than 5000 transactions digitally in the 1st week

with “touchless success rates” increasing from 87% to 97% in the course of two weeks and under 70 support calls. Does your e-Commerce deliver the same result?

The battle for true customer success will be fought at the back door in the coming 3-5 years. Shift your attention and IT budgets accordingly. Platforms for B2B don’t rely on advertising revenue but deliver solid “pay as you save” business models.

Just open your IT budget and project calendar for next year now: Is this on YOUR agenda? Put a Maneki-neko at your back door!