Effective E-Commerce for Manufacturers
B2B manufacturing buyers have a life outside the office. In that life, they shop online for consumer goods using websites and mobile applications that offer a sophisticated shopping experience. On those B2C sites, they’re able to read details about products, get personalized offers, check inventory, and complete the entire transaction, including arranging shipping, online.
One study showed that 68 percent of B2B buyers shop online for B2B products. They’re bringing expectations for the B2C level of service to their B2B buying experience, and manufacturers who develop effective e-commerce sites can also develop a competitive advantage.
Benefits of E-Commerce for Manufacturers
The scope of e-commerce for manufacturers is broad. Forrester Research defined the term “digital commerce enablement” to express that it includes more than simply selling products online. The online experience should be part of a company’s branding strategy, offering meaningful content and supporting interaction with customer support representatives, as well as enabling online purchases.
For manufacturing companies that implement a successful online strategy, there are numerous benefits:
- Smooth the order fulfillment process.
- Experiment with new products without maintaining inventory.
- Reclaim sales from gray market suppliers.
- Sell direct to consumers.
- Enlarged customer base.
- Increased efficiency through integration with ERP and other systems.
- Enlarged online presence and rise in search rankings.
- Collection of data to support analytics.
- Easily experiment and evaluate marketing campaigns.
Making Manufacturing E-Commerce Site Effective
E-commerce sites need to be carefully designed in order for manufacturers to experience those benefits. They need to work across multiple platforms, ensuring a smooth experience for buyers on mobile devices as well as desktop browsers.
The e-commerce site should not stand alone. It should integrate with corporate HR, accounting, and supply-chain systems, including warehouse and transportation management systems to easily incorporate online orders into the fulfillment process. E-commerce should also be integrated with Internet of Things devices to track the locations of raw materials and finished goods and schedule order processing appropriately.
An effective e-commerce site will incorporate information about deals, offers, and terms specific to the shopper. Personalization should draw on the shopper’s previous activity. The site should support the full shopping process; customers should be able to fully configure the product specifications and arrange shipping even for heavier items without needing to call a support representative. There should be support for product bundling options. Auto-ship options should be offered if appropriate for parts orders.
The e-commerce site should provide features that draw customers back after the order is complete. This means customers need to be able to track their orders online; they should also be able to find product support online, through videos and help guides. Sites should provide support for loyalty programs.
Getting E-Commerce Right for Manufacturers
Building an effective e-commerce site for manufacturers is complex, and needs to be part of the manufacturer’s strategy for growing relationships with its partners and dealers. The site needs to present an appealing, easy-to-use front-end to the online buyers while integrating smoothly with the backend systems. Work with Prescient Solutions to define your manufacturing e-commerce needs. Our team’s application development skills let us tailor a solution to your business needs. Contact us for a free project assessment.