EXTRA.OFFICINE UPGRADES BETTING ON CUSTOMER RETENTION
The program launched by Bosch for customer retention aimed at mechanics operating on the free market expands the list of suppliers on catalogue offering new contents and initiatives, renewing an already substantial catalog of prizes and makes it available online through an app to have it always at hand.
Mino De Rigo
Customer retention should be encouraged, preferably in a way that actually rewards fidelity. A concept also ushered in the supply chain of spare parts for the automotive industry, with Bosch promoting a prize customer retention program (Bosch eXtra) in Germany since 2009, designed to reward independent workshops that bought spares from them.
Two years later, the program arrived in Italy and then, in 2013, the choice to change pace, extending the catalog offering to other non-competitor suppliers and changing the name of the customer retention program to eXtra.Officine.
Today, in light of the favorable response, with about 10 thousand independent subscribers (equivalent to a third of the domestic free market) and as many prizes already delivered, Bosch and partners are intent on imparting further acceleration to the initiative. The aftermarket division of the Italian subsidiary of Bosch has, in fact, spent from 2011 about one million euro per year to support it.
"New incentives to fuel an already strong interest, - emphasizes Joachim Schneeweiss, regional director of Bosch automotive aftermarket for Southern Europe – based first and foremost on the involvement of new suppliers as well as customized promotions, on the renewal of an eye-catching prize catalog and also on interactivity linked to an new app for tablets and smart-phones. "A flurry of news that sees the list of suppliers of spare parts and workshop equipment grow to six, with the entry of Michelin beside Castrol and Westphalia, GKN (with Spidan and Loebro brands) and Stahlwille.
A greater catalogue and an app. for prizes
And soon a couple more may be added, so as to further extend the range of products offered, starting with Bosch parts to lubricants and tow hooks, spare parts for transmissions and workshop tools ending with tires, all may well represent the range of products currently in use by auto repair workshops.
Another interesting novelty, unavoidable in a world increasingly interconnected and on the move, the new app for iOS and Android will put in the palm of your hand the entire eXtra.officine program, from checking the points accumulated to reading the catalog and requesting the prizes. And that seems destined to close the circle of the free market interaction highly sought after and desired by Bosch.
Fabian Ratto, Bosch aftermarket regional marketing manager for Southern Europe, states: "At the base of the launch of the entire initiative there was the intention of creating a direct contact with independent workshops, the last link in a long distribution chain, and thus feed the demand from the bottom".
In other words, on the one hand the need of mapping the supply chain, that from suppliers and distributors stretches to the aftermarket and repair shops, on the other the need to enhance our presence, until then quite limited and irregular among operators in the open market, through an appropriately established dialogue.
"It’s a customized initiative, with tailor made promotions and the added value of differentiation. To demonstrate the success of the fidelity program it is enough to look at the following figures, with a popularity index that exceeded 85%, meaning that 85 out of 100 workshops are registered in the points system". But the flattering outcome of the operation eXtra.Officine certainly cannot be considered as the final objective.
Shorter supply chain through direct communication
"There is no doubt - notes Schneeweiss – that this is a continuous commitment. All the more so since nowadays it is becoming increasingly difficult to find, and then retain, a customer seeing the amount of commercial offers they keep receiving from a multitude of spare parts distributors on a daily basis. We trust that the program will prove able, as it has so far, to meet the daily needs of workshops, both for maintenance and repair, as well as optional. "
Looking at the distribution network of partners who share the investment with Bosch in this large customer loyalty operation, the same long supply chain is observed. Therefore the same need to shorten times and communicate directly with final customers. Roberto Bindelli, national key account manager for Castrol confirms: "This program, which we joined at the beginning of the year, is one of the activities planned for 2014, offering a further opportunity to establish a closer relationship with our clients" .
And the penetration achieved by eXtra.Officine in the market for auto repair professionals has convinced Westphalia that - says general manager Carlo Alberto Turco – “ this is a great incentive to consolidate its presence in Italy." For Michelin, the last of the partners to join the program, "the intent of extending our presence in this program - says Roberto Forabosco, key account manager of the Italian branch – goes hand in hand with the will to consolidate a partnership already well under way with the Bosch group ", while what attracted GKN " was first of all - says the sales manager for Italy, Middle East and Africa, Sandro Bressan - the opportunity to participate in an international program with unique features in the market scenario. "
An international effort
A medium to long term investment in the so-called coalition marketing, "alongside - said Marino Ferrarese, general manager of Stahlwille – a number of leading companies in their respective fields of business."
At international level, the eXtra.Officine program, which in addition to a good chunk of Europe covers the majority of Asia, has now reached 47 thousand registered workshops; Middle East and Africa are already on the roadmap for the developments of 2014, as well as, among other countries, Great Britain, Spain, Poland, Romania and Hungary.
"The effectiveness of our program - says Schneeweiss - is given not only by the position in the global market of the six main suppliers, whose synergy constantly provides auto repair workshops with new initiatives, but also by a privileged access channel for our final customers. And to all this, the opportunity of enhancing purchases of products and services by translating them into prizes, must be added. "Finally, beside the loyalty campaign, which relies on a dedicated call center, there is an intense CRM (Customer relationship management) activity combined with direct mailing and digital newsletters to be sent to workshops three times a week with news and technical content.
MARKETING AND PRIZES
A website especially dedicated (eXtra-officine.it) and a prize catalog displaying 85 prizes divided into categories such as work, home, leisure and summer specials.
A catalog that offers, for those who collect the bar codes from the packaging of products purchased, not only objects and services for professional use, like a quarterly technical hotline or a laser rangefinder, but also for hobbies, such as lawn mowers or sanders, entertainment and the family, ranging from food processors to dvd player, from backpacks to tablets, from table tennis to a garden gazebo.
Everything for a well thought out list, if it is true that over the last three years millions of barcodes have been sent to Bosch by workshops enrolled in the program. An operation capable of cleverly mixing marketing and behavioral psychology with well directed incentives. Not to mention the prizes requested so far, with the top-three positions occupied by cutlery sets in first place overall, followed by irons and hand drills.