Digital services

Digitalisation, increasingly automated processes and online sales channels will shape the industrial B2B sector of tomorrow. The E/D/E sees itself as setting the pace in this development, actively driving the transformation and thus creating sustainable competitive advantages in the association. Future topics – such as artificial intelligence – are adapted at an early stage and translated into needs-based applications with concrete added value for members. For this reason, AI and cloud offerings are now key technologies in the further development of our digital portfolio.

A key trend from previous years continued for the industrial B2B sector in 2023: the digital networking of all relevant systems along the supply chain with external parties, as well as within the company, has accelerated further. The demand for smooth information and purchasing processes is on the up, as are the products on offer. Intuitive user guidance, fast search, high system performance and efficient fulfilment are the key success factors for digital sales.

B2B online turnover continues to grow

A trend from the previous year was confirmed in 2023. While B2C customers are increasingly turning to brick-and-mortar shops as well as online shops after the pandemic, companies are increasingly handling their procurement digitally. The volume traded via the E/D/E members’ Multishops in the B2B online shop increased by 16 per cent compared to the previous year. The trend towards digitalisation and the automation of B2B purchasing can be seen in other figures: procurement platforms such as Ariba and Coupa have seen a remarkable 36 per cent increase in volumes, while the direct connection OCI from industry procurement systems and the e-procurement channel of multishops have also become increasingly important. Across all channels, sales traded via Multishop increased by almost 13 per cent compared to the previous year. The EDI integration for our member companies also made further progress in 2023. The number of suppliers and members has increased tremendously, not least due to the integration of third-party customers. As a result, more than 80 per cent of invoices are now exchanged digitally.


continues to hold its own in a difficult market environment

Toolineo held its own in a difficult market environment in 2023. Despite the marked reluctance of private customers to buy online, the marketplace remained only slightly below the delivery turnover generated for distributors. This is due to the further anchoring as a procurement channel for B2B customers. In addition, digital customer relationship management was further strengthened as a core competency.

The range of products offered by the marketplace network has been significantly expanded to over 850,000 items with attractive, marketable prices and good delivery times. More than ten retailers have been added. Brand manufacturers continue to rely ever more on Toolineo as a communication channel to their target customers – such as craft sector and industrial companies.

A major milestone is planned for the current year, as the Toolineo IT will undergo extensive modernisation. This is associated with a variety of improvements for the customer’s shopping experience and the processes of the distributors offering the products. This includes, in particular, the expansion of the range of payment methods, further improvements to clarity and the necessary interfaces, in order to be able to process the large volumes of data of the future just as quickly as today. The IT project’s implementation enables Toolineo to shift those relevant levers for a sustainable growth spurt in the direction of the strategic positioning: “The top address for craft supplies”.

Networking the systems takes centre stage

The E/D/E continuously supports its partners in networking the systems: both within the company and with external procurement platforms. To this end, we implemented further optimisation measures of Multishop’s existing interfaces to ERPcloud360, gevis, eNVenta, nextPIM and Ariba in 2023. This simplifies procurement processes and self-service for our members’ customers.

SHOPcloud360 for the digital sales of tomorrow

The world of e-commerce is constantly evolving. Customer requirements are increasing – especially in the B2B sector – and applications based on artificial intelligence (AI) are opening up new opportunities: with SHOPcloud360, we are therefore offering a new service element that will meet future requirements and, in combination, offer opportunities for competitive advantages. The shop platform using cloud-based Intershop technology aims to support the industrial B2B sector in digital sales with its regular customers, and to enable highly efficient new customer acquisition. SHOPcloud360 delivers an impressive performance with its excellent user-friendliness for the buying customer and an intelligent, AI-based search function for finding products quickly. Distributors benefit from a high degree of flexibility in structuring the product ranges, simple and efficient handling in data management and high scalability in system performance, as well as in the further development of the shop solution. The E/D/E also ensures effective integration into the product data offering, the association systems and networking with suppliers and end customers.

The combination of Intershop’s future-proof technology and E/D/E’s industrial B2B sector expertise has resulted in a powerful e-commerce tool that puts distributors within the association on a par with major competitors. The first pilot shops were launched in the autumn of 2023, and interested industrial B2B sector companies will gradually switch to the new platform from the beginning of 2024. With SHOPcloud360, the Multishop, SellSite as a special platform for home technology and the Shopware 6 offering from PVH FUTURE LAB, we are well-positioned to offer our partners a comprehensive portfolio that covers a wide range of requirements and needs in digital sales.

Cloud-based systems for greater efficiency

The E/D/E is constantly working on expanding the range of services for its members and suppliers and developing market-effective digital services. With our partner, nextPIM, we provide a suitable solution through which retailers can organise their product data management more efficiently and have a direct connection to E/D/E data. nextPIM is closely interlinked with the E/D/E ecosystem and offers direct interfaces to SHOPcloud360, Multishop and ERPcloud360, for example. The cloud-based ERPcloud360 system helps to manage all central business processes – such as Accounting, Human Resources, Data Warehouse, Materials Management, Warehouse Management and Sales – more efficiently, thereby optimising the entire business operation.

New supplier data portal

The new E/D/E supplier data portal, which was developed in close collaboration with the AI provider ONEDOT (and which is constantly being refined in partnership), covers the requirements of the industrial B2B sector and its product ranges in optimal fashion. Extensive product information is therefore available even faster, while also being more topical and of an improved quality. Suppliers benefit from the ability to add new products, update data and to improve their data quality in a structured way at any time. In doing so, they create the basis for utilising the ever-increasing number of digital sales channels with high-quality data. The supplier data is then automatically processed using AI and accurately transferred to the E/D/E and member systems with as little loss of time as possible. The new onboarding process for suppliers was launched in 2023 and will be continued in systematic style this year.

Customised product data for the industrial B2B sector

The new DATAcloud360 offering serves as the basis for providing customised product data for digital marketing and online sales. In order to enable effective data management for successful digital sales strategies, we have also systematically expanded our eDC supplier partnerships. The positive effects of this development and expansion phase will be fully realised in the coming years.

Going forward, AI will be able to take on even more tasks in the personalisation of offers or content creation – such as at SHOPcloud360, where promotions can be created automatically with AI. Use cases in which artificial intelligence independently analyses websites in order to identify target group-specific optimisation potential are conceivable. Other areas of application include image recognition and real-time translations. We are continually reviewing new solutions and applications. If a technology proves to be market-ready, we analyse its added value and its use for the E/D/E and its members. E/D/E is now investing significantly in these areas of digital future technologies.

In addition to a wide range of services, we also support our partners with training and comprehensive knowledge transfer in various formats. For example, the 5th “eDC Fittings User Meeting” focussed on the “plug-and-play capability” of data, the requirements and the possibilities of simplified handling of product data.

AI solution checks supply chains

The collaboration between the E/D/E and Prewave – which began in April 2023 – shows how artificial intelligence and modern digital solutions can help fulfil legal regulations. Our national and international members in the association thus benefit from a lean, easy-to-implement solution to fulfil the requirements of the German Supply Chain Management Obligations Act (LkSG) – thereby benefiting from a significant administrative deburdening. The AI-based software uses machine learning and recognises risks in the supply chain. It evaluates information in over 100 languages, classifies more than 1.2 million companies worldwide with regard to regulatory requirements and performs analyses on compliance with sustainability requirements.

Optimised HVAC data content supports the trade

The trend towards digital sales is also unmistakable in the HVAC world. Suppliers are providing data updates and supplementary documents based on the industry-wide Data Quality Guideline (DQR) at ever shorter intervals. In addition to user-friendly online shops and topical product data, our members’ craft customers also expect modern technical solutions in the form of interfaces, document displays or outputs directly from the respective retailer’s shop system.

The “eDC Haustechnik-Daten” not only provides support in the form of continuously updated and optimised data content, but also provides E/D/E members with comprehensive assistance in implementing the “SellSite” shop solution from scireum, which has been in use since the beginning of 2023. The minimum HVAC requirement specified by E/D/E can be scaled and customised by the members.

The level of interest is high, and within a short space of time, ten distributors have decided to use this shop system in conjunction with the unparalleled quality of eDC building services data. scireum is working closely with “eDC Haustechnik-Daten” to support members during the changeover – from staff training to process optimisation. The market-driven, quick-to-use solution supports distributors in implementing their digitalisation strategies and, at the same time, provides effective relief in the event of a lack of staff availability. E/D/E’s building services distributors use the SellSite solution in combination with the data of the “eDC Haustechnik-Daten” to great success.

Innovations by distributors, for distributors

The PVH FUTURE LAB was created as a driver of innovation by retailers for retailers and continued to pursue this approach in 2023. E/D/E suppliers can also benefit from individual solutions from the portfolio.

The “workflixx Document Reader” tool, which was launched at the beginning of 2023, has established itself in a short space of time. The solution for the fully automated reading of documents with the help of AI results in an enormous improvement in process speed. Instead of requiring several minutes in the case of manual capture, documents can be processed within seconds, including the direct transfer of data to your own ERP system, for example.

Sales support solutions – such as sellflixx Customer Protection – are also used intensively by distributors. In particular, the focus is on avoiding customer churn and utilising customer potential with AI support.

Against the backdrop of a legal requirement under the Whistleblower Protection Act (HinSchG), which came into force in July 2023, the PVH FUTURE LAB has simultaneously introduced a customised digital solution with workflixx Whistle Law. The product fulfils all legal requirements, and even offers the possibility for the whistleblower to remain completely anonymous. One noteable side effect is that the first wave of companies are also using the system as an internal reporting system for improvements and ideas.

Within the Rapid3D product area, we are not only seeing an increasing demand for industrial 3D printed components, but the possibilities of additive manufacturing for recurring products in project business of the industry and craft sector are also being utilised more intensively. Simultaneously, the service portfolio for licence holders has developed further. Subsequently, the Rapid3D process companion helps you to contact the right people in the network or to activate the required services.

With sellflixx C2E (Commerce 2 Everyone), a joint e-commerce solution based on Shopware 6 has been conceived that is specifically geared towards retailers who demand a high degree of customisation. The first shops went live in 2023, and further licencees have also been acquired. Artificial intelligence is also making inroads in this regard: the AI co-pilot already offers initial functions, for example to change and enrich product titles and product texts at the touch of a button and to use them in an SEO-optimised manner.

The PVH FUTURE LAB will continue to focus on customised and easy-to-implement solutions. A central project is the implementation of the dataflixx data hub. Thanks to a broad database that can be accessed by numerous applications, distributors will be able to use different AI applications flexibly in the future, whether for a specific period of time or permanently.

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