Specialized eCommerce Platform for Manufacturing & Distribution
In many ways, manufacturers and distributors resist change. New manufacturing methods and products are adopted readily, but organizations are slow to change the business models that have served them well for decades. These traditional processes include developing long-term personal relationships, relying on sales staff and using purchase orders for major B2B orders. Special prices and considerations are offered to top customers only after drawn-out personal negotiations to strike a deal.
Unfortunately, the typical B2B buyer has changed dramatically. Internet eCommerce marketing methods have created a culture of speed and curated user experiences, and buyers now expect automation, customization and self-service applications. Buyers often conclude large orders without ever connecting directly with a company salesperson or staff member. Millennials, who tend to be tech-savvy and comfortable with self-service, play a signature role in the decision-making processes of most companies.
Buyers simply expect the same conveniences as retail consumers--the ability to buy products, look up account details, pay invoices, apply for credit, research products and choose from multiple global shipping options--all from their computers or small-screen phones. Integrating business applications into a specialized manufacturing eCommerce integration platform for manufacturers and distributors empowers customers and staff and enhances all traditional marketing, production and sales practices. Clarity Connect provides that integration platform to integrate your B2B eCommerce / marketplace with any and all of your back-office applications (i.e. ERP, CRM, EMR, PIM, Supply Chain, Inventory tool, etc.).
How to Future-proof Manufacturing & Distribution eCommerce Businesses
Online sales platforms now offer buyers, manufacturers and distributors a glut of features powered by software integration. These include:
- Multiple catalogs and sub-catalogs to simplify product searches
- Fully automated online ordering and product returns
- Ability to share product information such as rich content, videos, research and third-party information
- Dynamic pricing
- Custom pricing tiers
- Automated processes for ordering custom products
- A full array of shipping integrations including on-site carrier connections and complex fulfillment conveniences like drop and split shipping
- Real-time inventory updates and accurate estimates on restocking times
The good news for manufacturing & distribution eCommerce business' is that building a comprehensive sales platform with fully integrated operational software can still put their businesses in the ranks of early adopters. Fast-moving companies can gain a stronger foothold in their industries and dominate business for decades. That's the easiest way to future-proof a business in today's rapidly evolving markets. Integration makes it easier to upgrade, expand into new markets, scale operations and respond to competitor actions. Clarity eCommerce and Connect make the perfect match for implementing custom B2B marketplaces integrated with your back office business processes.
The Benefits of Integration for Manufacturing & Distribution eCommerce Companies
Tech-savvy buyers include people of all ages and backgrounds. About two-thirds of Americans owned smartphones as of 2015, and B2B buyers typically use their phones to research companies and products.  Manufacturers that embrace advanced digital technologies to deliver an outstanding user experience can earn greater customer loyalty and a bigger share of the market. The extensive benefits of full integration and automation for manufacturers and distributors include:
Customizable eCommerce for Manufacturing
While there are almost an unlimited number of eCommerce applications for customers, there are very few that are designed especially for B2B applications and integrating into other back-office applications. It took Clarity nearly 10 years and we’re still perfecting and enhancing our distribtion eCommerce platform to meet the ever-changing business processes of our customers. That platform also allows companies to develop custom sales portals for their best customers. Product configurators allow customers to design or customize products. Special catalogs can be developed for different buyers and departments within the same company. Special ordering processes are easily accommodated. These are just a few of the manufacturing custom eCommerce B2B features of our platform.
Easy Entry into New Markets
Companies can offer their distributors exclusive products that distinguish them from competitors. Integration makes it easier to enter new markets, sell company products on marketplace platforms and enter the global sales arena with website conveniences such as automated calculation of taxes and duties, currency conversions, content translations and management of compliance issues that vary in different sales jurisdictions.
Customers can access their accounts 24/7 to check the status of an order, research a product line and review invoices. Every action a customer takes creates a record that the company can use to build holistic customer profiles. This information makes it easy to provide each customer with specific types of rich content, custom recommendations, personalized marketing messages and customer-centric buying incentives. Clarity’s platform provides six different out-of-the-box methods for easily re-ordering products. Most B2B clients re-order products over and over, and if it’s not easy to do so, they will often start looking at other options, or considering price in their decision to purchase from you. It needs to be easier to re-order any product or past order than it is to even think about considering another option.
Streamlined Internal Processes
Manufacturers might use a hodgepodge of software applications such as CRM, ERP, PIM and proprietary apps for their distribution eCommerce solution. Software--if not integrated--delivers only a minor percentage of the promised benefits of any software. Integrated systems can nurture leads, integrate pricing and product configurator software, build relationships and provide better customer service. In 2018, more than 60 percent of manufacturing companies plan to invest in cloud-based management systems to manage the delivery process and supply chain from end to end.  That's just one example of the resources that can be fully integrated into manufacturing operations. When internal processes are simplified, staff can concentrate on core business activities.
Simplified Decision-making Processes for Customers
Manufacturers and distributors can be compared to racehorses at the gate waiting for the race to start. What they do, they do well, but they're not equipped to handle multiple decision-makers from other companies. Robust account management allows customers to organize their own accounts and set the rules to define authority levels and decision-making roles.
Evaluating B2B Solutions for Manufacturers and Distributors
Custom orders, small-batch production runs and the need to collaborate with multiple decision-makers and distributors complicate adapting your workflow for each part of the manufacturing process. That's why manufacturers and distributors need robust platforms with an integrated API layer that can automate many processes, provide flexibility and scalability, reduce operational costs and support a collaborative ecosystem. You should choose a partner-friendly developer that understands B2B marketing and the manufacturing and distribution industries. A skilled partner can help you to develop customizable eCommerce for manufacturing applications so that you can concentrate on core business and production activities. Give Clarity a call today to discuss your B2B solution needs.
 Industryweek.com: How eCommerce is Changing the Manufacturing and Supply Industry
 Ecomitize.com: eCommerce Strategies for Distributors & Manufacturers