At Wacker Chemie AG, the experiments go well beyond the lab. Learn how the PROS Platform is helping the chemicals manufacturer transform its customer experience and business results.
While you may not know the company name WACKER, you have likely encountered its products. The $5 billion company based in Munich, with operations around the world, provides specialty chemical products that are found in countless applications and everyday items, from cosmetic powders to solar cells to paint colors.
“We are everywhere and nowhere,” says Dirk Ramhorst, who has the dual role of Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer at WACKER. The company’s portfolio includes more than 3,200 products, such as numerous silicone products and polymeric binders, that its customers in virtually every major sector rely on.
Into the Digital Future
The pioneer in modern chemistry is on a quest to become a digital leader in the industry since launching its “WACKER Digital” initiative in 2017.
“Digitalization for us is really a key success factor for the future in many aspects,” Ramhorst says. “For us, it’s about wanting to generate value out of what we do. In the last three and a half years, we have been able to prove this value to show a strong track record in a lot of different areas.”
One of those areas is learning how to drive continuous value through innovation and efficiency in how WACKER works and operates.
“We are a manufacturing company and, therefore, the use of digital technologies is very important for the way we produce, the way we operate, and also the way we invent and develop new technologies or patents,” Ramhorst says. “For example, we use AI to make our data-rich processes more intelligent.”
Ramhorst likens the process to that of the pharmaceutical industry. “We have, in many cases, more than a thousand elements for one specific step. You can imagine without AI, it can take a while to optimize those processes, even with our very smart engineers. But with the use of AI in supporting those engineers, we can do many optimizations even faster. So, we are able to do those experiments in light speed rather than in weeks or months or years.”
Meeting Changing Customer Expectations
WACKER’s digital initiative also addresses all areas of the customer experience.
“Our digital initiative is about enabling the salesforce to interact with our customers smarter; supporting eCommerce portals, which accounts for almost 50% of our revenue; and exploring digital commerce and new business models,” Ramhorst says.
Sieglinde Feist, Senior Vice President of sales and distribution at WACKER, explains further: “As we digitalize our processes, our customers do the same. Along the way, they change their expectations,” she says. “We want to make sure we meet those expectations, whether it’s response time or connectivity or data availability.”
Mastering pricing complexity is key, which can be enormously complex for manufacturers today.
“Pricing is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Feist says. “We have to balance a central approach with a regional approach to be competitive in the different markets we serve while addressing our customers with a pricing structure that really captures the value that we bring to them.”
To navigate these complexities, WACKER wanted a modern solution that could make it easier for salespeople to work with customers and meet the changing expectations of today’s consumers while driving a consistent approach to pricing that considers all the relevant factors that affect it.
The PROS Platform
WACKER relies on the PROS Platform to take the complexity out of selling while providing a seamless, dynamic, omnichannel buying experience.
“We did a full evaluation of the competitor landscape and chose PROS because it fits best with our needs,” Ramhorst says.
The PROS Platform is a unified SaaS platform at the heart of driving transformative selling experiences. Businesses like WACKER rely on it to provide consistently personalized offers to their buyers across all sales channels.
This personalized experience streamlines purchasing for customers, often resulting in buyers expanding their wallet share with WACKER because the chemical company has made the buying experience so much easier than its competitors’. The PROS Platform removes the complexity and barriers between the sales, pricing, and eCommerce teams that are critical in the buying process, enabling collaboration and ultimately delivering impactful customer experiences that increase adoption, fuel loyalty, and drive higher customer lifetime value.
“With the variety and number of products we offer, using PROS is a much more efficient way to approach sales, including making the offer, bringing orders in, using the optimized prices in our systems, and meeting customers’ expectations in a more efficient internal process,” Feist says.
Currently, around 80 percent of quotes move through the PROS Platform.
“The way we use PROS at this point is very important for us in the pricing and quotation process,” Ramhorst says. “Whatever we can learn from other quotes and what’s happening in the market is automatically generated into a better price that we give to our customers,” he adds. “We’re really happy with the high user adoption rate, which means our employees have embraced it.”
The Key to Success
So, what is WACKER’s advice for other companies looking to innovate their pricing and selling processes?
“All of our sales, marketing, and IT people worked together to help transition to the PROS Platform, and now that we’ve achieved this, we are very happy,” Feist says. “It’s an ongoing process. We have very complex customer relationships, global customers in many countries with a lot of products, and we still have to work to develop solutions to grasp efficiencies in the best way,” she adds. “We are learning every day, using digitalization to help us move forward.”
“Besides selecting the best tool, for me, it’s always important when we talk about strategic partners that I personally also have a senior management relationship with strong personal commitment, which PROS gives us,” Ramhorst says.
With the PROS Platform, WACKER has the AI-powered tools it needs to optimize every shopping and selling experience.
“Data-driven innovation is very important for us,” Ramhorst says. “With all the data we have, it’s important that we better understand and leverage that data to generate more value internally and become more innovative, and PROS is helping us do that in our sales process.”