As many would agree, the industrial gases business is still very traditional in how it operates, based upon strong cultural and organisational paradigms. It’s still very customer-facing and local in nature. As a result, e-commerce essentially changes that business model, that culture, within our industry. It’s essentially a paradigm shift, something which can in turn create confusion and even a sense of fear.
This has been a thought process in the US market in the last few years, for example, as distributors grappled with rapidly changing sales and marketing platforms in hardgoods channels – and for some time considered Amazon a threat to their business. However, these thought processes recently accelerated in the height of the pandemic with various lockdowns and traditional customer facing business no longer being so simple.
For this reason, DDS is offering its guidance and serves to its growing customer base – and helping them enhance their business. As avid readers (and watchers) of gasworld will know, DDS has teamed up with us multiple times throughout 2021 to speak on the importance of e-commerce and bettering that all important customer experience.
Here, in the next instalment of our 12 Days of Content series, we once again catch-up with Matt Christensen, President of Distributor Data Solutions, to find out about the company’s crazy 2021, opportunities in the next five years and those all-important company focuses.
gasworld (GW): Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Matt. Why don’t you start off by telling us what you think the most exciting application or growth driver for industrial gases has been this year?
Matt Christensen (MC): For us, its distributors entering the e-commerce world, especially in light of the growing pressure to serve customers online. There is a huge potential for their growth in digital as well as their ability to give their customers an exceptional customer experience.
GW: Webinars have been a big focus for DDS in 2021. The company hosted many of its own webinars and had a showcase webinar on gasworld TV. Why don’t you tell us about these offerings, why they’re so beneficial and what some of the key topics have been within these?
MC: First, we would like to thank gasworld for supporting us with these webinars as we focus on the various benefits of product data.
In 2021, we dove into some of the benefits for distributors, like the value and impact that high quality product images and videos can have throughout the customer buying process. Having more of this rich information results in customers spending more time on distributor websites and ultimately drives sales, not just online, but through other traditional sales channels as well.
In 2022, we will continue to expand on the distributor perspective, as well as talk about the many benefits to manufacturers. These webinars are invaluable in helping put us in front of viewers that we otherwise may not be able to reach.
GW: What were some of DDS’ other standout moments in 2021?
MC: We launched our exclusive and extensive cylinder gas product content that was developed in-house and in conjunction with industry experts, as well as ample input from our distributor customers. It has been a huge hit and a major differentiator for DDS customers. No one has ever attempted to create customised, detailed cylinder gas content in this industry, for use in e-commerce—we did, and it was an instant success.
GW: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for DDS in the next five years?
MC: For us it’s all about improved product content. We see big opportunities in making the exchange of data faster, easier and much more efficient—for everyone involved. We also see opportunities in how various analytics can help manufacturers and distributors alike.
GW: Finally, in the spirit of the time of year and the theme of this series, if you could make one Christmas wish for the industrial gases industry, what would it be and why?
MC: We would like to see (and help) every distributor get online this year, so that they can continue to grow and provide the experience that their customers want through an evolving commerce landscape.