The Challenges for Manufacturing & Distribution Moving to Online eCommerce
Manufacturing and distributing companies face some overpowering challenges in today’s markets with increasingly demanding customers, requests for self-service online options and requirements to satisfy multiple decision-makers involved with ordering products. Manufacturing eCommerce solutions can streamline the ordering process, incorporate multifaceted product and ordering demands and provide extensive shipping options in a global sales environment. That’s why it’s important to build an online distribution or manufacturing platform to compete with other companies that are doing the same.
Problems that Face Manufacturers and Distributors
One of the key problems of manufacturing and online distribution is satisfying the top 5 percent of customers who often account for as much as 60 percent to 70 percent of sales. Fostering loyalty becomes almost impossible without a robust eCommerce platform, such as Clarity’s B2B Enterprise eCommerce platform. Changes in marketing practices, increased customer demand for special considerations, custom pricing tiers and extended self-service options are critical features that buyers expect and demand. That’s why it’s critical to develop two or three distinct pricing tiers for a company's best customers, and dynamic pricing is also a benefit of integrating eCommerce with operating software.
Other problems for eCommerce for manufacturing & distribution in today’s marketplace include:
Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
- Customers today often demand customized or personalized products and small-batch production runs. An integrated and robust eCommerce platform can automate and simplify a vast range of customer actions that buyers and decision-makers can perform online. Positive decisions on customer requests can often be made in real-time.
Incorporating Email Campaigns
- Manufacturers and distributors can automate email campaigns based on customer profiles, seasonal demands, market trends and other factors to deliver timely and relevant marketing messages. Emails work better when they’re not generalized but adapted to each buyer’s buying habits and marketing history.
Fostering Better Customer Service
- In distribution, products occasionally go missing or arrive damaged. Sometimes, the specs are wrong. Human errors are quite common when a company isn’t automated and fully integrated. Manufacturing eCommerce solutions offer multiple ways for companies to connect and engage with customers, solve problems quickly and create an indelible record that’s easy to investigate, often offering a customized product configurator, allowing their customers to write their own product specifications before ordering.
Anticipating Client Needs
- Distributors understand the art of selling and upselling, but there are new demands in digital marketing that only a robust platform can fulfill. One the spot, customers can receive recommendations, relevant content and links to get further information. Integrated platforms can automate the collection and grading of leads to give salespeople better sales options. Manufacturers can offer their clients custom ordering, shipping integrations, focused digital content and transparent information about the supply chain.
The Solutions of eCommerce for Manufacturing & Distribution
Building an eCommerce platform isn’t easy or inexpensive, but it’s even more expensive if a company fails to adapt to modern marketing demands. Upgrading business capabilities and integrating all software into a robust API layer generates many operational savings that soon cover any development costs by increasing sales and reducing expenses. Today, it’s important to sell smarter. Upgrading back-end and front-end services enables companies to offer an incredible array of personalized services, better searches and other value-added features. Companies can integrate sales from multiple retail locations and B2B sales platforms including marketplace platforms.
Building an eCommerce platform allows companies to incorporate the modern B2C conveniences that customers and stakeholders want--such as mobile-optimized displays, convenient navigation and self-service options. A redesign of the company website creates a more functional platform that can handle the many demands of tech-savvy and non tech-savvy customers. It’s easy to display everything necessary to make a buying decision right on the product pages such as product details, shipping options, bulk prices, detailed specifications and other critical information.
The right design for an eCommerce website streamlines the ordering process and displays products in the best way to highlight each product’s features and benefits. Showcasing products to their best advantage helps to build demand because even B2C customers occasionally research products by visiting a manufacturer's site. An eCommerce store enables staff members to update products and prices easily without involving a developer.
Website design can facilitate solving customer problems or directing visitors to the right catalog and products. People visit websites because they need help or want to buy. Good design offers a warm welcome and focused help for each visitor. In 2018, about 40 percent of all manufacturers plan to expand their automation capabilities and systems.  Manufacturers are also planning to expand their production capabilities--50 percent of manufacturing companies plan to add 3-D printing, cognitive computing, AI or robotics to their processes. Savvy companies get ahead by adopting new technologies as quickly as possible.
Special Needs of Distributors
Distributors increasingly feel the crunch when many manufacturers now sell directly to the public or their own network of distributors. The traditional “middleman” now operates in a narrow space between wholesalers and retailers where margins and customer demands limit their sales options while increasing their obligations to provide differentiated products. Some of the special needs that distributors have that eCommerce platforms can satisfy include:
- Distributors need a vigorous online presence to keep up with trends and customer demands.
- Clean, well-designed websites create a better reputation with the emerging millennial buyer who is rapidly taking over the buying process.
- An eCommerce platform offers integrated catalogs and product pages that provide customers with helpful content 24/7.
- Thoughtful platform design and integration can save money on human resources and paperwork, build customer loyalty, capture lead information and ensure that all siloed systems work together.
The best way to get started is to find a trusted developer to handle the process of building an eCommerce store. Enlisting a partner in the process can reduce the headaches associated with development, and a vendor experienced in B2B manufacturing and distributing processes can recommend the right web design and integrate all your existing software into a robust and highly functional platform. With over 13 years of custom SMB to Enterprise B2B eCommerce development, Clarity and their eCommerce and integration platforms can meet and improve every need that you and your clients want, at an affordable price that takes a few months, instead of years to implement. Give us a call today to discuss your Manufacturing & Distribution eCommerce needs.
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