Legacy manufacturing companies have a lot to juggle. From production to project management, there’s often little ability to focus on B2B manufacturer eCommerce strategies.
While that’s a perfectly understandable dilemma, it’s also shortsighted. Implementing an online commerce platform can result in major increases in sales. In addition to providing another sales channel from which you can sell to distributors and wholesalers, it also broadens your audience base.
Potential customers who are searching for solutions to problems will be able to locate this information online. Not only will they be able to find solutions, but they’ll be able to browse, compare, and (depending on how robust your eCommerce presence is) even learn how to use your products via videos or other tutorials.
Just as significantly, access to an online product catalog or platform gives potential customers an idea of pricing, which streamlines their decision-making process.
All of this boils down to one simple concept: an online commerce solution speeds up the B2B sales process.
Even before your sales reps reach out to a customer, that customer is able to learn about your company and products, gather ideas and pricing, and explore viable solutions to their business needs.
In fact, according to a study done by Forrester:
- eCommerce technology increases B2B sales productivity by 45%
- 54% of B2B companies say eCommerce provides their highest sales
- The average B2B company increases revenue by nearly 50% by launching eCommerce
Clearly, an investment in an eCommerce strategy for manufacturers can pay dividends. Let’s break down how.
What’s the first thing most people do when they need to find an answer to something? They Google it. In 2020, over 2 trillion Google searches are done per day. It’s safe to assume your customers - and potential customers - are using Google to problem-solve.
By embracing eCommerce, your company can tap into the power of search engines in ways that legacy sales channels do not allow. From search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, to content marketing (such as blogs that demonstrate ways to use your products), to a social media presence, where you can promote targeted ads to your potential customer base - eCommerce builds your brand and increases awareness.
For manufacturers in particular, an eCommerce platform even helps with analytics and insights into your customers’ needs.
You’re able to assess what people are searching for online. Perhaps the search terms they’re using are not what you expected. Or perhaps they are searching for products that you don’t currently provide - why not develop a new product line that meets that need?
An eCommerce platform offers insights into customer buying habits, popular products, gaps in customer service, and other critical information that can direct company decisions in profitable ways.
Better Customer Service
One of the major concerns that manufacturers have about embracing eCommerce is the idea of transparent pricing. None of them want to upset their distributors, wholesalers, etc. by listing prices that may differ by company, or be lower than what a business has been quoted in the past.
“The exact opposite has been proven time and time again. People do business with you - and it's not just about price.”
In fact, pricing transparency builds relational trust.
While contract pricing will likely never go away, and sales reps can certainly help businesses navigate pricing options, baseline pricing can go a long way in establishing your business as trustworthy, transparent, and easy to work with. Those qualities are invaluable.
Furthermore, eCommerce solutions streamline the sales process. Platforms that provide enterprise resource planning (ERP) integrations allow businesses to manage and automate many of their back-office functions. This simplifies a company’s backend workload, resulting in satisfied customers, increased orders, and less margin for purchasing errors or delayed shipments.
Ultimately, all of these benefits result in increased sales.
New customers, happier customers, additional sales channels, insights that are helpful in developing new product lines, increased time for sales reps to pursue leads, direct access to potential customers, etc. - all of this has a positive impact on a manufacturer’s bottom line.
The Internet is an incredibly powerful sales tool, resulting in instant gratification for customers and consequently, instant sales for businesses. Ignoring its potential is not a model for longevity or success.