E-commerce is a strategic tool that can futureproof your business. It can ensure your tech stack is seamlessly integrated so you can gain a 360-degree view of your customers, provide the best experience possible, boost productivity and efficiency and more.
Here are some more benefits of e-commerce for manufacturers.
1. You can access new markets and reach a wider range of customers
Nearly half of all B2B consumers use the internet to search for information, whether it’s to research products/services or find a particular solution or supplier? And did you know that 62% prefer to access information online in comparison to 27% who prefer offline channels?
That’s why you need to have an e-commerce strategy - it helps you gain a strong online presence. Use it alongside digital marketing and you’ll see the most success.
Here are a few things to consider when creating your e-commerce strategy:
- Know your customer preferences and optimise your website, products/services, messaging and other content based on that. This ensures your website is optimised for search engines and can be found by consumers
- Tailor your products to any new markets you attempt to break into. This helps you boost your reach without competing with any of your partners
- Avoid competing with your distributors by offering them access to exclusive finishes, colours or even product ranges
2. You gain better visibility
An ERP system gives you better visibility, particularly over your inventory/warehouse stock levels which reduces manual work and enhances productivity for your workforce. If your ERP is integrated with your commerce platform, you can ensure your customers don’t buy out of stock items.
This makes it much easier to match spare parts with products, and cross and upsell because you can access information in one centralised location and quickly review stock levels. This means less searching, more working on other vital tasks which streamlines your operations overall.
Better front-end operations and customer satisfaction and experience
Now, the next few benefits are related to your front-end operations and customer satisfaction and experience. When you enter the e-commerce space, you can give your customers more autonomy over the information they require, from seamlessly browsing products and generating quotes to tracking order statuses.
3. Customers can see your full range of products
You might manufacture and sell a huge range of products. Of these, your customers might only know about a small proportion. You could send out catalogues but would your customers really read the entire thing cover to cover or want to flick through pages to find what they need?
An e-commerce store resolves all of that inconvenience. Rather than flipping through hundreds of pages or having to look in the index, your customers can search for items, and use search filters and intuitive suggestions.
Not only will this make all of your products known, but it will also boost customer experience as people can quickly find what they need.
4. Customers can access a personalised product catalogue
To further boost customer experience and make that purchasing process even more frictionless, you could even personalise your product catalogue for the individual customer.
For example, when a customer searches for a particular item or range, they could see search results that are based on their purchase history and other customer data (e.g. company size, sector, etc). You can also include items that customers with similar needs and profiles have looked at or purchased.
This simplifies their purchasing experience, making it easier for them to find what they need. It also allows you to cross and upsell products.
5. Customers can customise products by themselves
In addition to finding what they need, e-commerce also allows your customers to customise products themselves and not need help from your sales or customer service teams. Remember when we said an e-commerce platform gives your customers access to your whole range?
That’s exactly why - whether it’s a change in colour, shape, size or model, they can find what they need and customise it to what their precise requirements and not need to speak to your team for help. This saves time and is more convenient for both your customer and your employees.
6. Your customer service and sales teams can focus on other tasks
When your customers can use a self-service portal to retrieve information, they no longer need to rely on your employees. That means your customer-facing teams, such as customer service and sales, can spend less time assisting customers with placing orders and other commonly asked queries and more time on important tasks like:
- Lead nurturing
- Building relationships with customers
- Helping the customers who really need their help (such as focusing on at-risk relationships)
7. You can ensure faster time to market
When you have an e-commerce strategy in place, you’ll find getting your products to market is a much faster process. For starters, you can gain valuable insights into market trends which can accelerate new product development.
Then, if you use the right technology, you can centralise your processes, systems and information. This means no more siloed operations, duplicated data or lengthy, redundant processes.
Instead, you can quickly access the accurate information you need to launch your products on time.
Want to ensure your manufacturing business is in the running for e-commerce success?
Now that you know the benefits of e-commerce for your business, it’s time to start thinking about your e-commerce strategy. The current environment (Brexit, COVID-19 and climate change are just a few notable examples) has shown us the manufacturing industry’s traditionally ‘offline’ way of working isn’t enough.
But where do we start when it comes to e-commerce? In our guide to e-commerce for manufacturers, we’ll help you understand how consumer behaviours have changed and how you can pave your way to success with the ideal e-commerce strategy.
Download your copy below.