Until now, retail has been the predominant sector when it comes to online sales and digital eCommerce. However, manufacturing and B2B are more readily embracing online technology and eCommerce platforms, with early adopters gaining significant market share.
While many manufacturers and B2B organisations understand the value of utilising digital platforms for commerce, others are at different levels of accepting its full potential. For some, a lack off buy-in from executives and board members hampers their digital commerce adoption. For others, it’s the perceived challenges around the integration of online inventory management systems and how they will manage distributor relationships that hinders a forward move into the eCommerce age.
A lack of internal knowledge about eCommerce and having sufficient resources available to integrate eCommerce technology into existing software is of primary concern for many manufacturers.
With various legacy systems for tracking inventory, sales and accounting information and the pressures of dealing with new technologies seems overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
eCommerce has evolved; top platforms can easily integrate with online inventory management and accounting systems. If you don’t want the hassle of insufficient in-house tech support, it’s easy to partner with cloud-based vendors who provide ongoing support. The best modern systems are scalable and will update as technology changes.
The competitive landscape has changed and much of this has been driven by professional buyer expectations. Business customers are now demanding greater purchasing independence, choosing search engines and the ability to buy direct from the manufacturer, over third-party distributors and resellers.
There are ways for manufacturers, concerned with damaging distributor relationships by demand driven eCommerce, to keep both customers and distributors happy. They can develop eCommerce channels under their own brands, taking advantage of strong opportunities for direct sales.
They can offer basic items and core products on branded channels, while at the same time, supplying more unique or specialised products through their distributors. Be sure to evaluate your sales channels to determine where distributors are still providing strong value.
Remember, today’s consumers rely on omnichannel sales approach that enables them to shop where they want, when they want. However, online inventory management and eCommerce platforms need to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, consistent across all channels.
Customer Service Delivery
Customers demand online experiences that provide a quality service and ease of doing business and B2B commerce is no different. Manufacturing portals for eCommerce need to deliver the same characteristics of a B2C experience.
Direct sales via your own eCommerce site is also an excellent way for businesses to interact directly with customers, collect customer information and identify purchasing preferences. Maintaining a clean and effective flow of data is fundamental to successful customer service delivery. It allows manufacturers to personalise email marketing, customise content and to digitally up-sell.
Where some see challenges, others see opportunity. Digital technology and eCommerce can benefit manufacturers by giving them access to international sales markets. It can improve customer experience with easy, online, anytime purchasing possibilities.