Recently, I spoke with Manufacturing Business Technology about the industry’s ongoing digital transformation. We also talked about why B2B e-commerce is the way to respond.
The transformation in the manufacturing industry is driven by the way your clients are getting used to purchasing products through web stores. It is very important to realize that your business customers are also consumers, who are more demanding when it comes to finding the information they need and making purchases. Convenience is everything and businesses that truly adopt omnichannel commerce are the winners of tomorrow.
The manufacturing industry is following suit and evolving at a rapid pace. I believe that manufacturers that primarily serve clients through phone, fax, or email will risk losing the loyalty of customers who are digital natives.
These clients want to be in control of the information, whether it is inventory levels, product details, their order history, or their own negotiated discounts. They want to be able to purchase goods whenever and wherever they want. These customers information to be accessible at anytime and anywhere. Their world is online.
How Do Manufacturers Benefit From E-Commerce?
I know that the fact that customers expect companies to take their business online scares many in the manufacturing industry. Their business is complex and translating this business to an online environment sounds like a big challenge.
However, it doesn’t have to be.
Adopting B2B e-commerce has many benefits and doesn’t have to be difficult. For instance most processes can stay the same, such as your sales process. It’s just another channel, and adding this channel will benefit a manufacturing company in several ways.
Provide a Personalized Catalog
As a company in the manufacturing industry you have a great catalog of products that you are proud of and want to showcase for your clients. However, prices for your products depend on the specific situation and differ from customer to customer. That is why you have to be careful with sharing your pricing.
In addition, it would be nice to have a tailor-made catalog for every client. Such a catalog would only feature the products which are relevant to a certain customer. This is possible with a B2B web store. By connecting your assortment to a personalized account, your customers will only see the products that fit their needs and requirements.
Ensure Visibility for Spare Parts
Many manufacturing industries have high traffic for spare parts. An ERP-integrated e-commerce platform lets you match these spare parts with the more complex products clients have purchased. This makes cross-selling and upselling easy and efficient. Customers don’t have to spend any effort on searching for connecting parts. A quick win for both service and efficiency.
Configure Products Online
The ability to match products also grants you the opportunity to configure products in your e-commerce platform. Products that differ in shape, size and color. This means your customers are able to customize products to their own requirements, without the help of your sales or support department. This saves both your clients and your company a lot of time and effort.
Promote Your Private Label
Manufacturing companies that own a private label benefit even more from e-commerce. A web store allows you to highlight these products by providing suggestions for additional sales, or offer them as (high quality) spare parts. This not only increases the sales of your private label, but also improves cross-sell and upsell results.
Sell Your Complete Assortment Online
As a manufacturer, your assortment can contain thousands of products. Of these products, only a small percentage is known and purchased by the average client. However, you often have much more to offer than the products your customers know about.
Adding a B2B web store to your sales channels helps you to inform your customers about your complete assortment. Tools like quick search, search filters and search suggestions will guide clients through the goldmine of products. Customers can now learn about new and additional products, as well as alternatives.
Learn More About Manufacturing and E-Commerce
More and more manufacturing companies see the benefits of adding a web store to their existing channels. Unfortunately some companies haven’t yet bridged the e-commerce gap. Are you one of them? Download our report on the intersection of Industry 4.0 and e-commerce and read more about e-commerce developments in the channel-shifting manufacturing industry.
Michiel Schipperus is CEO of Sana Commerce. Sana is a B2B specialist and delivers a fully integrated e-commerce solution for SAP, SAP Business One and Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV & GP.
21 April, 2015