Manufacturing eCommerce

Manufacturing & Distribution eCommerce: Choosing the Right Platform

Updated  |  5 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Solutions for manufacturing and distribution eCommerce are crucial as they streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and improve customer experience.
  • These solutions—such as improvements to supply chain management (SCM)—automate and integrate processes, reducing manual tasks and errors. They also optimize inventory management, enabling accurate demand forecasting and cost savings.
  • ECommerce business platforms provide a global reach, expanding business opportunities and revenue potential, delivering an improved customer experience through personalized recommendations, secure transactions, and real-time tracking leading to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Integration with existing systems ensures seamless data flow, while data-driven insights facilitate informed decision-making. Overall, these solutions are essential for competitiveness, growth, and success in the digital marketplace.

Building a robust Manufacturing & Distribution eCommerce platform has become increasingly important to stay competitive in today's digital markets. Although many companies have become successful using traditional wholesale practices, there are new technologies, buyers with different demands, and a need for faster communications that require a wholesale eCommerce platform that offers multiple user services and ordering options.

Consumer Demand of Online Sales

Advancing technology has changed the face of purchasing and marketing, and successful sellers will be those who embrace such technology. Buyers today won't want to deal with outdated and inconvenient purchasing processes. Even once-loyal customers will find new suppliers if their experience with your company becomes sub-par.

Customers are also demanding more customizations, specialized pricing, and alternate manufacturers to order from on marketplace platforms, especially those that are industry-specific with curated products.

Selling products online is the only way for you to keep up with consumer demand, which will require a reliable distribution management and order management system.

E-Commerce distribution channels commerce distribution.

The Digital Divide Will Begin to Separate Companies

In the United States, the potential for factory earnings by adopting digital best practices is estimated at $3.7 trillion by 2025 [1]. The most innovative and successful manufacturers today put customers first by delivering great online experiences to each visitor. Those companies that don't optimize for the digital age will fall increasingly behind those who do, and the divide between these companies will grow larger.

Remember Blockbuster? It started life as an innovative company, but failed to adapt their business. One study found that brand attraction depends more today on enriched interaction online, convenient self-service, and appealing digital experiences [2]. Another report found that 67 percent of the average buyer's journey is made digitally [3].

Collaborating with Business Partners

Both manufacturers and distributors tend to collaborate with a large group of stakeholders or business partners, which can include buying committees, social media connections, specialty vendors, and key organizations in supply chains.

Each of these groups would benefit from being able to access information at any time and work more closely with manufacturers and distributors through responsive platform features (instead of playing complex games of phone- and message-tag).

Access to necessary information and better collaboration features are just two of the many benefits of a manufacturing eCommerce and distribution eCommerce solution.

E-Commerce distribution channels reduce shipping costs with direct distribution

Top 10 Benefits of a Manufacturing & Distribution eCommerce Platform

An e-Commerce direct distribution channel

Generating Alternative Income Streams

A robust, eCommerce integrated product chain manufacturing platform provides the self-service tools and streamlined management necessary to open alternative income streams such as marketplace sales platforms, short production runs, and customized products. Customized platforms designed specifically for manufacturing and distributing usually have stronger customer self-service features that enable faster decisions from multiple, customer-specific pricing, detailed information on inventory, raw materials, supply chain, compliance guidelines from multiple countries and taxing jurisdictions involved in global marketing, and faster shipping with integrated connections to various carriers.

A direct distribution channel and an indirect distribution channel

Sharing Information Bi-directionally

In today's business environment, it's imperative to share information internally and externally to streamline processes, update inventory management software, collaborate, and market with customized content.

Manufacturers and distributors can automate intelligence gathering, enable real-time information sharing, generate custom reports based on a stakeholder's level of authorization, monitor employees, and gain valuable insights about their customers from platform analytics and user behavior. It's also important to engage customers by communicating with them, knowing their needs, soliciting their opinions, and responding to their complaints and concerns.

E-Commerce distribution channels can meet customer expectations.

Automate Product Catalog Feeds, Update the Supply Chain

Companies can promote new product launches, update product particulars, change prices and create custom pricing tiers. Companies can create catalogs-within-catalogs for special buyers, preferred customers, and authorized buyers within a given client's company. Managing big product catalogs and thousands to millions of SKUs becomes simplified. That's why platforms designed for Enterprise B2B custom implementations, such as Clarity ecommerce works so well.

Direct distribution channels from a third-party logistics provider

Delivering a User-Friendly Experience

A well-designed platform automatically generates the right display for customers, prospects, and multiple decision-makers based on the type of device each person uses. Customers can have custom dashboards for ordering products and special features such as product configurators to speed up order completions. Scheduling shipments, recurring orders, and returns should be easy and hassle-free, and the right eCommerce platform can make those processes easy and automatic.

Indirect distribution channels as a distribution strategy

Managing an Evolving Workforce

Distributor eCommerce often deals with associates from multiple countries, cultures, and even time zones. Some staff members might work from home while others work at multiple branches, factories, and sales offices. Unlike past generations, few companies can survive long if they run “sweatshop” operations.

Companies find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain top talent, and an integrated platform can make it easier by providing employee self-service options, online onboarding, and other HR tools. Efficiency and collaboration drive productivity more than salary savings and negative reinforcement. Most companies now allow workers to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), which allows the staff to work anywhere. Mobile technologies on the floor allow workers to connect with customers, stakeholders, and managers.

An indirect distribution channel vs a direct distribution channel

Earning Better SEO Rankings

B2B manufacturing resourcing operations often don't realize how strongly B2C convenience has permeated the modern culture. Today's business buyers no longer rely on loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals, relationships with sales staff, and price as the main drivers of where they buy. Business buyers are also retail consumers, and they want the same conveniences that they get from retail sites. Unhappy customers can easily search the Internet for alternative suppliers, so it's critical to rank highly in organic searches.

A world-class manufacturing eCommerce distribution platform—like Clarity eCommerce—is always correctly coded for on-page SEO for each product, allows category landing pages, provides product and category XML sitemaps, and the platform can build brand awareness with the right content and off-page backlinks from other respected websites. Regular monitoring can detect broken links.

Developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy icon

Developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Today's B2B eCommerce platforms can make the most of what customers do online. The data includes how long visitors spend on each area of a website, which products cause visitors to pause and what areas seem to be pain points. Content can be monitored the same way regardless of whether it's on the website or posted elsewhere. Keyword usage, requests for assistance, and other browsing habits can help to create a full visitor profile that manufacturers and distributors can use to craft custom promotions and website displays and to refine content to make it more appealing. Marketers can use inbound marketing insights to give customers the content they need directly through email campaigns.

ECommerce supply chain management can improve cash flow.

Adding New Technology

Manufacturers and distributors face a market where more and more products have Internet-enabled sensors that report key data. Sensors can track consumer devices, calibrate driverless cars in automotive manufacturing, automate deliveries of parts and subassemblies, and track production progress in real-time.

Collecting data from these sensors and disseminating it to the right departments require a robust platform where everything is well integrated. A platform geared to manufacturing can enable predictive maintenance and monitoring of equipment conditions throughout the operation.

Supply chain management helps those in the e-Commerce industry with supply chain issues.

Tracking & Measuring Results

The manufacturing process often moves slowly from inception to finished product. That's why it can be difficult to measure the benefits of enterprise B2B eCommerce from indirect promotions such as content marketing and social engagement. An enterprise-class platform doesn't forget, and it doesn't lose information.

The system can monitor long-term sales relationships, customer communications, commerce distribution channels, sales leads, customer behavior on-site and off-site, track inventory management issues in a distribution center and along the entire product chain, identify online shopping trends, and monitor market trends to spot opportunities and threats. Automated triggers can send the right information to authorized staff when key conditions are met. The system can also send customized marketing messages based on this intelligence. A robust system can even monitor a company's reputation online, find product reviews and discover any negative or positive mentions of a given company.

An eCommerce supply chain can optimize delivery routes.

Integrating with Multiple Systems

Integrating new technologies often causes major problems for companies that use legacy systems, manual processes and older technologies. Each update and software addition can create challenges, downtime, and inefficiencies unless the platform has a strong API layer where ERPs, CRMs, and EMRs like Salesforce, Oracle, Dynamics, Sage, NetSuite, and hundreds of other line-of-business applications can be connected securely to specialized endpoints that disseminate the information to multiple operating areas. Updates will then create fewer problems because the endpoints will still deliver the information where it's designed to go despite software changes.

The staff will only have to enter information once to distribute it everywhere it needs to go. These are just a few of the benefits of integration. Clarity Connect is a companion platform to Clarity eCommerce, which provides that integration platform to interconnect your front office (website, distributor portal, eCommerce storefront, etc.) to your back office (Financial app, Fulfillment, Shipping, Logistics, Inventory, ERP, CRM, etc.)

Evolving Digital Technology and Supply Chain Management

Upgrading your business to function successfully in today's manufacturing and distribution markets must take center stage in your long-term planning. Digital marketing is only going to become more pervasive, and it already plays a critical role in almost every area of business. Building a robust platform can be daunting unless you enlist an experienced developer to guide you through the pitfalls and highlight the opportunities.

The manufacturing and distributing industries need to embrace modern digital marketing to remain successful, and an experienced, collaborative developer could be a great business partner and resource for your operation.

Give Clarity a call today to discuss your eCommerce supply chain management needs, and let us help you come into the digital age with a competitive advantage. We offer a complimentary discovery process to get your eCommerce business off on the right foot, so get in touch today.

An eCommerce supply chain can reduce costs and improve fulfillment centers.

FAQ

 

Manufacturing & distribution channel solutions typically offer a range of features tailored to the unique requirements of these industries. Key features include order management, inventory tracking, supplier management, automated shipping and logistics, real-time data analytics, integration with other business systems (such as ERP or CRM), and customization options to adapt to specific manufacturing and distribution workflows.

 

By automating various manual tasks and integrating different stages of the manufacturing and distribution processes, eCommerce solutions enhance efficiency significantly. They eliminate time-consuming manual data entry, streamline order processing and fulfillment, minimize errors, optimize inventory levels, facilitate accurate demand forecasting, and enable faster and more reliable shipping and delivery. All these factors contribute to improved overall operational efficiency.

 

Yes, modern manufacturing and distribution eCommerce solutions are designed to handle complex manufacturing processes. They can accommodate custom product configurations, manage bill of raw materials, handle assembly processes, and seamlessly integrate with manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as well as software like a warehouse management system. These solutions are scalable and flexible to adapt to the specific needs of various manufacturing industries.

 

A reliable Commerce distribution network enhances the customer experience by offering convenience, transparency, and efficient order fulfillment. eCommerce platforms enable customers to browse and purchase products from anywhere at any time, providing a seamless and user-friendly shopping experience.

Implementing third-party logistics providers' platforms for commerce distribution allows real-time visibility into inventory levels, accurate order tracking, and timely delivery. This ensures faster and more reliable fulfillment, reducing delays and improving customer satisfaction.

Also, a platform that helps with distriubtion strategy helps businesses optimize operations, minimize stockouts, and provide accurate product information, resulting in improved trust, loyalty, and overall customer experience. Product supply costs are reduced as efficiency is increased for the B2B eCommerce store.

 

Security is a crucial aspect of the manufacturing and distribution of eCommerce solutions. They employ robust security measures, including data encryption, secure payment gateways, user authentication, access controls, and compliance with industry standards and regulations. It is important to choose reputable eCommerce platforms or providers that prioritize data protection and implement regular security updates.

 

Implementing commerce distribution channels can lead to significant cost savings. By automating manual tasks, reducing errors, optimizing inventory levels, and improving operational efficiency, businesses can reduce labor costs, lower inventory holding costs, improve warehouse operations, improve product aquisition logistics, minimize shipping errors, and enhance the visibility of supply chains. Also, eCommerce platforms often offer subscription-based pricing models, eliminating the need for large upfront investments.

 

Yes, most manufacturing and distribution strategies are designed to integrate with existing systems such as ERP, CRM, supply chains, logistics processes, inventory management software, and shipping systems. Integration allows seamless data flow between different systems, ensuring accurate and real-time information across the organization. It eliminates the need for manual data entry and enhances overall process efficiency.

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Author
 
Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures who stays up to date on the latest trends in eCommerce, software development, and related topics to provide readers with the latest and greatest. She strives to help people like you realize the full potential for their eCommerce business.