Reports estimate that 41% of manufacturing business revenue will be derived from e-commerce websites by 2025 – the digital shift deadline is fast approaching! And the new ‘digitally-oriented customer’ expects a frictionless customer experience that traditional offline operations can no longer satisfy.
Despite worries over distribution networks and in-house capacity availability to achieve this without disruption, manufacturers looking to maximise sales and retain customer loyalty for many years to come must diversify by selling directly online. An integrated e-commerce platform can become the ultimate game changer here.
It works alongside existing processes and allows businesses to benefit from more wide-reaching digital transformation and business evolution initiatives. I’ve identified four use cases here that show just how an e-commerce platform can benefit manufacturers:
- Bring CX into the bigger picture with a 24/7 online presence
- Remove operational siloes to improve stock visibility
- Filter out the distractions of online shopping with personalised pricing
- Reduce the pressure on sales teams with autonomous customer service portals
1. Bring CX into the bigger picture with a 24/7 online presence
E-commerce platforms are now the first point of contact for many consumers, with 62% of customers preferring to access information online versus 27% who prefer offline channels. This digital shift creates opportunities for manufacturers to reach new prospects and markets on e-commerce platforms, while also improving existing customer relationships.
Here’s where a content management system is vital to help manufacturing companies establish a strong online presence. It optimises websites for search engines and can keep online content up-to-date and relevant.
This allows businesses to provide a seamless online experience and significantly boost customer retention as more customers gain a clear picture of their purchases and manufacturers understand their customer buying habits.
2. Remove operational siloes to improve stock visibility
Businesses can integrate their ERP systems with an e-commerce platform to store important information such as payment details, web orders and stock levels in a single centralised location, where workers can easily access the free flow of accurate information in real time.
This opens up further opportunities to increase cross-team collaboration and productivity, as workers can spend less time searching to match spare parts with products and more time on value-adding tasks.
Take Fagerhult, one of Europe’s leading lighting manufacturers, as a key example. Information was disparately spread out among different departments in their solution, and they were unable to keep up with rising production rates and the growing demand for excellent customer experience.
After the integration of their ERP system with a product information management system, they were able to synchronise all production information in one location and make their product range searchable and easier to navigate. Today, the company can reduce the overall order fulfilment cycle and focus on delivering outstanding customer service.
3. Filter out the distractions of online shopping with personalised pricing
Manufacturers may sell a huge range of products, yet their customers might only know about a small proportion of these. With an e-commerce platform, customers can use search filters to quickly find what they need and learn about new and additional products or alternatives.
Client behavioural metrics and purchase histories can help personalise results for the individual customer so they can access the correct product and pricing data based on individual contractual agreements.
Not only does this create a frictionless purchasing process but – as global pet food manufacturer Royal Canin can attest to – it also allows businesses to leverage a more premium price and manage distributor pricing.
For instance, when the company implemented an e-commerce platform that was able to integrate with their existing content management system, they managed to improve the online purchasing process and grow their online sales by 54%.
4. Reduce the pressure on sales teams with autonomous customer service portals
As customers continue to embrace online self-service portals to retrieve information, they will no longer need to rely so heavily on customer-facing teams such as customer service and sales.
The integration of back-office software means customers can find information such as inventory levels or order tracking details 24/7 and without the assistance of a customer service team.
Customers can also customise products by themselves on an e-commerce platform. For instance, customers can access the entire product range, such as varying sizes, colours or models, to find what they are looking for and tailor the product to their precise requirements.
This both satisfies customer demand for a fast and convenient service and frees up time for the customer service and sales teams to focus on at-risk relationships and critical tasks such as lead nurturing.
Even if customers do have simple queries, the use of live chat and chatbots can still ensure the process is efficient.
Take the next e-commerce step to secure a place in the digital marketplace...
Translating an entire business to an online environment with minimal disruption sounds like a major challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right e-commerce strategy, businesses can choose a solution that fits into existing processes and gets the team on board for the best possible chance of success in the online world.
This digital approach will allow manufacturers to boost customer engagement and revenue, and unlock efficiency and productivity increases across both front- and back-office business operations. The benefits for manufacturers and customers are endless!
Download our guide to learn more about succeeding in the e-commerce space as a manufacturer by clicking below.