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Home / Blog / B2B eCommerce for Manufacturers: Discover Growth Potential

B2B eCommerce for Manufacturers: Discover Growth Potential

by | May 15, 2024 | eCommerce Solutions

Manufacturers often find themselves thankfully insulated from wildly fluctuating market preferences and do not have to change how they do business based on the latest fad in consumerism. As an industry closest to the raw materials that find their way into the products we see on the shelves or in an online storefront, variations in a predictable supply are virtually the only trends manufacturers have traditionally needed to sweat about.

But that does not mean manufacturers can rely on the same business practices forever and expect to grow. COVID-19, among other recent disruptors to the supply chain, underscored the need for even manufacturers to stay agile and adapt quickly to the changing needs of the marketplace. The increased popularity of online shopping and the growing number of remotely working employees have added fuel to the fire, making eCommerce a more attractive proposal than ever.

Key Insights

Some key takeaways from this blog to help you make an informed decision about eCommerce:

  • Digital is here; make it work for you. Even if your company hasn’t traditionally relied on business technology, it is becoming impossible to ignore the potential benefits.
  • If your competitors are not using it now, they will be. While manufacturing lags behind DTC businesses when it comes to adopting eCommerce, the trend is headed in the eCommerce direction for everyone.
  • Be flexible. Recent supply chain disruptions have proved how important it is to remain agile and efficient, capabilities that are augmented by implementing eCommerce.
  • Give your customers what they want. Appropriately deployed, a B2B eCommerce for manufacturers solution can better serve your customers with accurate and accessible transactions as well as improved customer service capability.

Manufacturing Customers Shifting to Digital

The distributors, wholesalers, and retailers that make up the core of a manufacturer’s customer base are finding a lot to get excited about with the increased capabilities of eCommerce. Whether they are B2C presenting individual customers with an appealing online storefront experience or B2B looking for a more efficient way to track stock and ship purchases, going digital makes sense. As a manufacturer, if your customers are becoming more and more enamored with eCommerce, it makes sense that they would be attracted to a supplier using the same model.

Manufacturers Getting Into eCommerce: 7 Benefits

Increased Sales

ECommerce for manufacturers means less reliance on face-to-face marketing and sales, allowing a company to branch out into markets previously untapped because of limitations like location or previous experience. These days, customers appreciate the ability to research products online without having to schedule a meeting and may be more likely to select a manufacturer with an online presence.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Even with strict social distancing mostly in the rearview mirror, the appeal of online shopping and conducting business remotely is going strong and not likely to trend in the other direction anytime soon. Being able to place or renew orders online is not just more appealing but, in many cases, expected. How often have you eschewed a local business because they had no online presence that allowed you to find out what they were about, how they priced things, and whether or not they had what you needed in stock?

Direct Access to Customers

DTC sales may not traditionally be the purview of a manufacturer, but it is a channel that is seeing increasing popularity in the industry. The public’s general familiarity with platforms like Amazon and eBay leads them to expect the same kind of shopping experience for products much closer to the original source.

Improved Efficiency

From the printing press to the assembly line, advancing business technology has always been about efficiency. B2B eCommerce for manufacturers is no different. Having up-to-the-second information about orders, stock, and supply is critical for timely transactions and key for identifying potential problems in the chain and calculating the best use of resources.

Scalability

Along with the increased efficiency supported by eCommerce comes the capacity to rapidly scale. Being able to quickly shift between channels or use a hybrid omnichannel approach when appropriate is becoming increasingly important for growing businesses. If sudden, welcome market changes occur that provide more potential for future business than your current boots-on-the-ground sales team can manage, you need additional options to close those contracts. And having a highly digitized inventory and transaction management system in place will help fulfill those new orders.

Innovation

Implementing a solid B2B eCommerce for manufacturers solution not only helps a business stay relevant in a rapidly evolving industry but also allows that business to be better positioned for future innovation. Solutions like the LANSA Commerce Edition are increasingly modular and customizable, allowing manufacturers to quickly adapt to whatever advances are on the horizon.

Cost Savings

Last but never least, there is the bottom line. While any new and improved process involves an upfront cost, the long-term savings from becoming more efficient and flexible with a thoughtful approach to manufacturing eCommerce are hard to dismiss.

LANSA Customer: The Weidmüller Group

The Weidmüller Group is a leading provider of solutions for the transmission of power, signals, and data in industrial environments with production facilities, sales companies, and agencies in over 70 countries. Weidmüller in North America, based in Richmond, Virginia, has over 750 distributors and direct customers.

They had a B2B eCommerce solution in place, but the majority of their distributors found it cumbersome and unusable. As a result, many continued to place orders by fax, phone, and e-mail, opening the door to problems like misquoted prices and items on backorder. They also found themselves with a glut of standard inquiry calls that could have easily been handled through an informative online approach.

Weidmüller engaged with LANSA for a solution, and within two months, the company was able to implement a B2B eCommerce solution that exceeded their expectations. “Less than two years after implementing the first B2B site, we are receiving nearly 50 percent of orders online and are well on the way to achieving our target of 60 percent. Just as importantly, the volume of inquiry calls has also dramatically dropped,” – Selena Garner, Customer Service Manager at The Weidmüller Group.

How Can Manufacturers Effectively Use eCommerce: Best Practices

Choose the Right Platform

When looking at your eCommerce for manufacturers options, make sure you have identified the aspects of your business model that you want to improve. They could be current pain points that you have received negative feedback about or areas where you think there is an opportunity for growth. The platform you select should have a proven track record in these specific areas.

Create an Engaging, Functional Website

Think of your website as your virtual storefront. Would you patronize a brick-and-mortar business that looked broken down and inaccessible from the outside? The same applies to your online presence. You want to attract potential customers and keep current ones by creating an inviting space that grabs their attention and features functionality that appeals to them.

Provide a Personalized, Dynamic Product Catalog

With eCommerce, you do not have to make your clients pore through a massive tome of products to find what they need. You can customize their view to show them only what applies to their business, displaying transaction history for easy re-order, and even changing the aesthetic of the web page they access to make it a more personalized experience.

Optimize Product Listings With Real-Time Information

A functional eCommerce solution can keep your catalog updated in real time so customers immediately know what is available and what is on backorder. It can also highlight any new options that might appeal to them. Pricing and shipping variables can be kept current so that at the time of the transaction, a client knows how much they are paying and when they can expect it.

Ensure a Smooth Experience for Both Suppliers and Buyers

For your suppliers and buyers new to eCommerce, you want the online experience to be a refreshing revelation so they can immediately see the benefit of digitization. For those suppliers already used to the online ordering experience, you want them to feel as comfortable as they do when doing business on any other site — if not more.

Integrate Communications

Make correspondence with sales and customer service quick and easy to access. Whether through an online chat service or a customer inbox, make online communication so effortless that your customers do not have to pick up the phone unless they really want to.

Embed Payments and Logistics

Yet another way to highlight a personalized feel and increase the benefit of your eCommerce for manufacturers solution is to make accounting transparent. Allowing your customers to manage payments for current orders and view the history of previous orders with a few easy clicks will go a long way toward converting any of your paper invoice holdouts.

Feature Customer Reviews

With eCommerce, you will have a natural platform for tooting your own horn — so, do it! Positive feedback from existing clients could go a long way toward swaying potential new ones. Yelp, Google, and others have conditioned customers to look for favorable ratings before making a purchase, so make sure yours are front and center.

Why LANSA Commerce Edition is the best for your Manufacturing Goals

LANSA has helped thousands of companies up their eBusiness game, and the LANSA Commerce Edition is a road-tested, customizable, and comprehensive solution to your eCommerce for manufacturers’ needs. Its low-code modularity and extensive integrative capability mean it can fit with any existing ERP system and be highly customized to create a look and feel that will immediately put your customers at ease. The numerous benefits of investing in an eCommerce channel are well worth exploring for many manufacturers. And LANSA has the platform and track record to help you make the most of it. Check out this webinar for more about the LANSA approach to eCommerce.

 

FAQs

Do manufacturers need eCommerce?
While manufacturers have not adopted eCommerce as readily as more traditional DTC companies, enough retailers, wholesalers, and distributors that are manufacturing customers are leveraging this channel that even if a manufacturer does not see an immediate need for eCommerce, their customers might.
What kind of eCommerce features do manufacturers need?
Among other things, manufacturing companies can utilize eCommerce to upgrade the accuracy and speed of purchasing and shipping, maintain current inventory, generate customer correspondence, and improve overall efficiency.
Why should manufacturers consider implementing eCommerce?
ECommerce can not only help a manufacturing company with efficiency and flexibility, but it can also open up new opportunities for business growth.
How can manufacturers stay competitive in the digital marketplace?
Offering customers a highly personalized, accurate, and efficient online experience will go a long way toward retaining existing customers and attracting new ones.
How can manufacturers manage channel conflict when adopting eCommerce?
When you implement your eCommerce solution, it is important to have the right stakeholders involved so that your online offerings do not step on the toes of your people in the field or your existing clients.
How can manufacturers handle complex products in an eCommerce setting?
If your products have a high degree of complexity that could make online selections difficult, you will need an eCommerce platform that is easily customizable — such as the LANSA Commerce Edition.

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