Digital Marketplaces Are Coming to a Utility Near You, But What’s In It for Customers?

Jenny Zhao

Over the past decade, digital marketplaces have upended the dynamics of many established industries. The remarkable rise of companies like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon has challenged and reinvented the customer journey across transportation, hospitality and e-commerce, transforming how these industries do business.

In this new Marketplace eBook for utilities, we explore the lessons we can learn from these market leaders, who are delivering transformative customer experiences in highly competitive markets where buyers have significant choice. They have developed unprecedented networks to architect transactions and interactions for their customers, making their experiences seamless, enjoyable, and leading-edge.

Online marketplaces have become so prevalent that buyers – including B2B companies – now expect and prefer to use them. According to Forrester Research, 93 percent of business buyers prefer to procure products and services through digital platforms.[1]  Further, 60 percent of B2B decision makers complete bigger transactions when they engage with sellers through multiple online and offline channels.[2]  What’s become clear is the growing demand and need for digital service and convenience in across the B2C and B2B space – and an overall improved customer experience.

This movement is an opportunity for utilities. Amid a landscape of proliferating competition and customer choice, energy providers are pursuing new and better ways to engage and deepen their relationships with customers. They are also bringing new products and services to the market: energy efficiency, demand response, distributed energy resources, and more.

Utility-sponsored marketplaces are reimagining the buying process of energy management solutions, making it easier than ever before for their customers to purchase energy-saving products and implement projects. As seen in our Marketplace eBook, marketplaces improve the buying experience for utility customers in a few key ways:

  1. They increase competition for projects, driving down prices. When customers are able to obtain the best price possible for an energy efficiency project, their expected return on investment increases and initial capital outlay decreases, improving their likelihood of completing transactions.
  2. Online transactions are convenient. With the right suite of tools and services, a digital marketplace provides an easy-to-use solution for utility customers to communicate what they need, ask questions to vendors, evaluate offers, and track post-implementation performance. It equips them with the resources they need to navigate an intricate energy efficiency buying process.
  3. Vibrant marketplaces provide greater selection and value. Businesses often consider specific criteria for energy efficiency solutions in addition to cost. For example, an office property manager might prioritize ways to maintain a comfortable environment for tenants. A marketplace lets businesses consider multiple energy-saving projects and technologies so they can find the ideal fit for their needs.
  4. It’s easier to vet sellers and bids. Online marketplaces allow businesses to determine which contractors they would like to consider for their project. Customers can review their credentials and evaluate bids side-by-side, avoiding any confusion between proposals that may include different technologies, pricing and other terms. With a utility-sponsored marketplace, energy providers can also provide high-touch customer support to help customers make the best decision for their situation.

Download the eBook (The Digital Marketplace: Coming to a Utility Near You) to learn more about the benefits of marketplaces for customers, contractors, and utilities, as well as best practices and strategies for energy providers to consider.

Learn more about how Ecova’s Marketplace helps energy providers deepen their customer relationships, increase uptake of services, and introduce new revenue streams.

[1] Forrester, “Death of a (B2B) Salesman,” April 14, 2015.

[2] Forrester, “US B2B eCommerce To Reach $1.1 Trillion By 2020,” April 2, 2015.

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