Manufacturers should better train dealers and provide them with more information on their products. This is the finding of a study called “Communication costs in sales and after-sales of e-shops” which revealed that in case of questions about a certain product 86% of German online customers address themselves directly to online shops.
Only 5 percent of internet shoppers turn to the manufacturers of brand names or suppliers. Therefore, commercial success to a large extent depends on the service quality of dealers.
On the one hand the fact that customers turn to online dealers if they have problems or questions is an advantage for brand name manufacturers because these may make use of the service infrastructure of online shops. On the other hand, however, there is the risk of losing contact with customers or the risk that lacking service of an online shop negatively affects the image of a brand name.
This means that the quality of the interface between manufacturer and webshop operator to a large extent also influences the turnover of the manufacturer. Therefore, on the other hand, online dealers should implement the service standards of manufacturers. Providing a high-quality customer service their online trading platform could become interesting to additional brand name manufacturers.
The study also reveals that online customers are very demanding when it comes to customer service. For instance, more than 20% of the interviewed online purchasers turn to other sources of help if the dealer can be contacted via a payable service hotline only. The same applies to cases where getting in contact with an e-shop is too complicated, when, for example, contact details are not easy to find on a webpage.
Furthermore, there are product groups for which enquiries are very often directly addressed to manufacturers or suppliers. This applies for example to expensive and major products. One third of online purchasers of a car, for instance, turn to the car manufacturer and not to the dealer in case they have questions concerning the acquistion of their car. In the case of furniture one quarter of purchasers turn to the supplier in order to agree e.g. delivery times. This can be explained by the fact clients expect manufacturers or carriers to be more able to give appropriate answers than dealers.