Storent and Smart-ID are digitalizing the construction industry

The construction industry is one of the most conservative business sectors in relation to the introduction and adaptation of digital solutions. However this has not stopped Storent from becoming a pioneer in this area too. The outcome has surprised and delighted the company itself – almost 50% of machinery leasing transactions are done online.

In six European countries Storent offers assorted construction machinery leasing services. The company employs 273 workers at 29 leasing points. Storent has over 15,000 active customers, and it manages machinery worth EUR 130 million. The new online platform currently operates in the Baltic States, Finland and Sweden.

“We have always considered ourselves not as a leasing company seeking an IT system, but rather as one that creates its own solutions and tools, in order to improve the quality and efficiency of its operations for the benefit of its customers and employees. Since the company was founded 15 years ago, Storent has always focused on innovations and digitalization,” explains the company’s Sales and Development Manager Guntis Grīnbergs.

In November 2019, seemingly sensing the approach of the pandemic and remote transactions, Storent decided to start work on building a machinery leasing online platform. “The first transactions took place online in March 2020. This was something new and unheard of. Looking back, one must admit that the work and energy put into the process have proved worthwhile. Back then it was only possible to conduct simple transactions, but we did not rest on our laurels. We continued to develop the leasing platform by continually adding new options,” recalls Grīnbergs.

Feasible only thanks to Smart-ID

According to Guntis Grīnbergs, the launch of Smart-ID provided new opportunities to look at many things from a broader perspective: “Before Smart-ID, this plan of ours would have been hard to realize.” The process of integrating the tool went smoothly and Smart-ID continues to function reliably and without disruption. “We are really proud that we’ve got a client like Storent. It’s a company that has proved in practice that innovations and transformation are not merely plans and words. It really works and delivers results. Such changes inspire us to improve our services and create new ones. Right now we’re looking in the direction of digital wallets,” comments Santa Meijere, Business Development Manager of the developer of the Smart-ID tool – SK ID Solutions.

Currently the machinery leasing process on the Storent platform requires the customer to register online, sign a leasing agreement, receive a credit rating and payment conditions, choose apparatus, the leasing term and delivery address. The system automatically calculates the leasing price and transport costs. A machinery delivery document is created from the customer’s order. The customer signs leasing transactions (delivery-acceptance acts) with the Smart-ID electronic signature or using Mobile ID in Lithuania. Customers can also apply to return machinery online.

So far, so good, but the most challenging part of the project was getting most customers interested in trying out the new service and using it from day to day. “This is where our team deserves the most credit. We approached each customer personally and explained the service to them and then showed them how to use it. We talked to some customers twice, while there were others that we talked to ten times. We even took customers to the bank where necessary so that they could get Smart-ID for the first time and learn to use the authorisation tool. We invested time in educating customers, because the online environment was new and unfamiliar to them,” explains Guntis Grīnbergs. He also stresses that in practice it is not the case that platforms are simply launched on the market and start operating successfully by themselves. Thanks to marketing activities, information about this new opportunity reaches customers, but they need encouragement to really start using it. “10% of customers are always ready to try something new. But we need to work very hard with the majority of customers, while the remaining 20-25% are very conservative. This is how it works in our sector too. Survey still show that there are customers who try using new tools, but who don’t come to terms with using them or are simply not prepared to accept changes. Therefore, from the customer’s perspective it is important that the tool is easy to understand and simple to use,” says Grīnbergs.

Ongoing development

As the market leader Storent has thus succeeded shifting attitudes within the whole industry. Guntis Grīnbergs has noticed competitors gradually introducing various digital services. For example, they have started actively using the electronic signature. Likewise, it is worth noting that construction machinery leasing platforms are also appearing on the market, which unite almost all the leasing businesses operating in this country. This gives customers the opportunity to send their order at once to several or all service providers, and then choose the offer that suits them best. The concept is similar to platforms like Skyscanner or Booking which provide customers with immediate access to all industry players and make it possible for them to choose the best offer quickly.

“We’ll be happy to get involved on such platforms, because it’s advantageous for us that there also other businesses that are driving the digitalization of the leasing sector. This, in turn, means that Storent cannot afford to rest on its laurels and that it must continue working to lead the way in the digital transformation in the industry. For example, a new parallel product Storent Coins has recently been introduced, which is a Loyalty programme. When making orders on the online platform, it will be possible to earn digital money, which is calculated according to the online leasing sum. This money can be used on the platform to make new orders,” says Grīnbergs. “Overall, we are satisfied with the outcome, but we always want more. I am convinced that gradually the number of users of our leasing platform will grow, because we do our day-to-day business online. That’s where work conversations and meetings take place. Many people are used to ordering food online. The construction leasing sector is no different.”

How has the company benefited from the introduction of an online platform? Storent believes that the biggest benefit is efficiency, because machinery leasing managers and their consultants are spared the hassle of time-consuming procedures related to signing documents and phone calls. Accordingly, they can now devote more time to quality interaction in person with customers. Storent believes that it has thus also acquired a unique competitive advantage, which makes the company more attractive for those clients, who are happy to save time by operating in the digital environment. The company has also succeeded in reducing its internal bureaucracy, because the leasing processes are devised based on online ordering solutions. Both employees’ time and the company’s money are saved on a regular basis, while the online channel has become a new sales channel.

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