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Distributors are always looking for ways to better serve their customers. Finding direction in that area may be as simple as asking them, according to John Sonnhalter, founder of B-to-B marketing firm Sonnhalter, in Grainger Goes Mobile: What It Means. They know what the problems are, and even if they can't articulate it fully, they can give you a place to start.
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For example, when Grainger launched its research into developing a mobile application, it heard from customers that there was often a delay in getting approval on purchase requests. "They thought it was a systems issue," says Geoffrey Robertson, vice president of U.S. e-commerce strategy and planning for Grainger.
They didn't realize the delay was because the purchasing agent was away from his desk and not receiving the message. Simply asking "What problem do you have?" revealed a gap that Grainger could help fill with its new mobile app.
Asking your customers what they want is a simple idea, Sonnhalter says, but the number of people who don't do it is surprising. And as a result, they're missing an opportunity to build something really useful.