The KION Group’s business model is designed so that customers of all sizes and from all sectors can obtain the full spectrum of material handling products and services from a single source. Customer centricity and a firm focus on customer requirements are also enshrined in the KION Group’s vision of being the best company in the world at understanding its customers’ material handling needs and providing the right solutions.

The KION Group is a global player operating in many customer sectors and enjoys established relationships with its customers. It has been able to extend these relationships through joint development projects and other initiatives. Another important lever is the highly efficient sales organization that ensures the KION Group has the necessary proximity to its customers in all the key markets worldwide. It achieves this both through its own resources and through partnerships. In addition, cross-brand and cross-segment development and sales activities unlock the potential for cross-selling between individual product categories.

The Industrial Trucks & Services segment has a very broadly diversified customer base, ranging from large key accounts with global operations to small and medium-sized enterprises that typically order just a few trucks each year. Thanks to the diversified customer base, the increasing relevance of high-volume business is not resulting in greater dependency on individual customers.

The Supply Chain Solutions segment benefits from long-standing customer relationships with major players in e-commerce, grocery logistics, general retail/wholesale, and other sectors. They influence the success of the segment’s project and service businesses. Specific solutions, such as micro-fulfillment, help Dematic to further consolidate its position in major customer sectors, including general merchandise, grocery wholesale and retail, fashion, food and beverage manufacturing, and parcel and courier services.

The KION Group’s diversified and well-balanced customer structure and long-standing customer relationships, combined with the way it is benefiting from global growth trends, are key factors that explain why it is relatively resilient to economic turbulence and external market disruptions.

Customers’ satisfaction with the products and services of the KION Group is highlighted by the long-term nature of customer relationships and the high proportion of repeat business. Digital solutions for functional tests, planning of maintenance and servicing, and remote maintenance are helping to increase customers’ productivity and leading to greater customer satisfaction in the aftersales business.

In the reporting year, the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout had a significant impact on day-to-day operations in companies and, at the same time, made it more urgent to automate processes and structures. Since the start of the pandemic, the KION Group has therefore optimized its customer touchpoints by introducing new digital offerings and new digital tools. For example, it used enhanced contact and communication channels to maintain its customer relationships despite the cancellation of major trade fairs and other industry events due to the pandemic.

During a digital material handling trade fair and conference held in the summer of last year, customers were able to browse Linde Material Handling’s virtual stand in order to find out about the latest products and solutions and ask questions in a live chat. This web chat function is also available on Linde’s websites and enables customers to contact the sales team directly.

Digital expert systems, such as an energy quick check and a product quick check, help customers to choose energy solutions and order-picker trucks: Customers are asked a series of questions in order to ascertain their specific requirements and suitable products are then suggested. The online visualization of industrial trucks using rotating 3D models helps to present the trucks’ details to customers at a time when live demonstrations in dealers’ showrooms are not possible.

STILL has expanded its intralogistics consultancy offering, which goes beyond mere product or systems advice and is crucial when putting together end-to-end process-based solutions. Working closely with the customer, STILL’s specialists combine all of the elements of the flow of goods and information to create an intelligent logistics concept that meets the customer’s needs and requirements.

In the first quarter, Dematic responded to the cancellation of LogiMAT, a flagship trade fair, by launching Dematic Virtual Showcase. In this series of webinars, experts provided insights into individual products and industry solutions. Participants also received live support from Dematic experts during the webinars. The event was held for a second time in November, when it was named Innovation Day. New Dematic solutions were presented and the spotlight was trained on examples of cross-sectoral best practice and groundbreaking intralogistics solutions.

At a Project Excellence Day for intralogistics consultants, Dematic presented innovative approaches in the field of compact, automated solutions for storage, retrieval, and order picking. Based on examples of best practice, industry experts also discussed the latest developments and requirements, including in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

In October, Dematic again hosted the Material Handling & Logistics Conference (MHLC), which was held entirely online for the first time. Customers and industry experts were able to learn about and discuss new trends and applications during various workshops and presentations.

The companies in the KION Group also launched various initiatives to help their customers to adjust to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic as best they can and to protect their employees against infection.

In the early part of the pandemic during the spring, customers of Linde Material Handling, for example, could use the Truck Call app free of charge for a trial period of six months. The app enables transport orders to be assigned to industrial trucks digitally from a cellphone, helping to reduce face-to-face contact between logistics workers.

Companies in the KION Group also lent their support to projects being run by other companies that were helping society to overcome the pandemic. STILL, for example, supplied an electric forklift truck free of charge that was used in a facility producing disinfectant.