Ariba Helps B&H Get Discovered by Quality Buyers

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Ariba Discovery, which could be described as a B2B equivalent of the Internet dating site Match.com, has helped a large camera and electronics retailer become increasingly successful at managing business leads.

B&H Photo, Video, and Pro Audio, a New York–based retailer that traces its roots back to 1973, carries close to 350,000 items from more than 2,600 suppliers. B&H is the largest reseller of Apple computers on the East Coast, according to Barry Eisenberg, director of business development, contracts, and e-procurement at B&H, but 90 percent of its customers aren't aware of the store's wide range of inventory.

"When you think of B&H, you think of cameras and camcorders and the chargers you need for [them], but we also carry [things like] televisions," he remarks. B&H carries products ranging from surveillance cameras and lighting equipment to portable entertainment consoles and professional audio equipment that extend beyond its consumer business to corporate, education, and government product sales.

In the rapidly changing world of retail, even a tried-and-true business such as B&H could not rely solely on its brick-and-mortar presence. "I'd say probably the Web and e-commerce are picking up a lot faster than people walking into the store or calling us on the phone," Eisenberg admits. "It's easier and faster for us to receive orders, which frees up manpower to take care of things like customer service."

Although it knew the interest for its products was there, B&H struggled with identifying qualified leads and buyers who were, indeed, ready to purchase. Some of the store's direct marketing tactics and inside sales strategies were falling flat—so much so that email campaigns were yielding buyer response rates of only 1 percent or 2 percent.

An early user of the Ariba Network, a business commerce network now operating as an SAP company, B&H added lead-generating capabilities to its sales and marketing mix with Ariba Discovery. The solution acts as a buyer-seller exchange of sorts, facilitating real-time interactions between those with a product to sell and those who are looking to bid.

One of the major differences between using a service like this as opposed to doing a simple Web search on Google is the fact that when buyers have a demand, relevant companies and their products are presented as solutions to the demand. "As a buyer, I might want to find alternative sources of supply or do a quick spot-buy, and as a seller, I might want to be exposed to all of the other buyers that I know are out there," comments Tim Minahan, executive vice president of network strategy and global marketing at Ariba. "This is how the Discovery service came about."

Using Ariba Discovery, B&H has access to customers who are "looking for us and something we carry at that exact minute" in time, Eisenberg observes. The company has automated the way it creates and changes orders, generates invoices, and expedites remittances and payments. B&H has become much more efficient at responding to leads generated by Ariba Discovery, and has been able to respond to qualified leads within 15 minutes.

Email conversion rates have increased to 15 percent, and B&H has gained more than $200,000 in new business while securing the possibility of future orders as a result of the relationships it fostered through Ariba Discovery.

One of the greatest benefits to B&H Photo has been how streamlined the process for finding new buyers has become. Rather than being hit with a broad list of leads, only buyers given the green light to bid on the seller's inventory can move forward with the process, making it much more of a vetted—and targeted—transaction.

"We had one customer [where] it wasn't a matter of finding the right person [to sell to]," Eisenberg says. "We just wanted to get them set up on the network because we were pushing forty orders per day [for them] manually through our system. Once Ariba started working with us and them, it cut down on the staff that was needed to take care of that customer by over fifty percent."

The Payoff

Using Ariba Discovery, B&H Photo has:

  • been able to respond to leads within 15 minutes;
  • generated more than $200,000 in new business; and
  • ncreased buyer response rates from 1 percent or 2 percent to 15 percent for email campaigns.

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