The online statistics company, Statista, predicts that there will be more than 2billion digital buyers worldwide by 2019. Frost & Sullivan say that B2B ecommerce sales will be worth around $6.7 trillion and account for over a quarter (27%) of all B2B sales by 2020. Whether your manufacturing business is large or small, B2B ecommerce shouldn’t be ignored.
Here are six key B2B ecommerce features we recommend to help your manufacturing business to grow in a digital market.
Expectations of business to business (B2B) buying are constantly raised by online retail. The first requirement of an ecommerce solution for your manufacturing business is to keep pace, not only with fast-changing technologies, but also with customer preferences.
That’s why we believe a Cloud-based solution is the best choice. Using the ‘out of the box’ functionality of Cloudfy, for example, means you can launch a new ecommerce site in weeks rather than months. Because new features and upgrades are regularly deployed in the Cloud, you will also have access to the latest innovations, ensuring you will always be up to date.
Ease of use
For a site to be easy for your customers to use it has to be easy for you to maintain and update. When your buyers are regularly researching through multiple channels they will expect to find consistent and robust product information (manuals, videos, specifications and troubleshooting). They will also expect to view their order history, receive order information and updates on delivery dates.
An easy-to-use dashboard will allow you to manage product information no matter how large your catalogue. It will also make adding offers and promotions and delivering all the information your customer are looking for really straightforward.
Integrating your ecommerce platform with enterprise planning, accounting and other business systems will also allow you to provide existing customers with information tailored to their buying history and needs. They will be able to review quantities, price breaks, delivery arrangements and timescales, making their purchasing journey really easy.
Buyers complete between 50% and 70% of the purchasing process online, so it’s important that they find your site quickly and immediately see that your products meet their needs. Once they have decided what to buy, nine out of ten will prefer to buy online.
With an increasing preference for searching on mobile phones and tablets, your site needs to be technically good for search engines, and fast and responsive for mobile devices. It should be really well designed so that you can optimise your content to be found online. Once visitors arrive at your site, navigation and search results need to be simple and relevant, quickly taking them to the information they are looking for.
Your best B2B ecommerce solution is one that has been designed from the outset to meet the needs of manufacturers, wholesalers and distributers. This will give you scope to build-in the personalised features that your customers are looking for.
Repeat orders and multi-user roles for corporate accounts with several decision-makers should be really easy to set up. You should also be able to offer flexible payment options to suit your customer’s preferred buying style. These could include purchase orders, invoicing, electronic or credit card payments, and pre-approved credit limits.
For improved efficiency, you can also offer punch-out functionality. This will allow your customers to access your product catalogue via their own e-procurement or finance system. They can select their items and return to their own system to create the order. It can then be approved internally and be returned to you electronically.
Bill of Materials Handling
As a manufacturer it’s key to enable trade customers to purchase from you at a BoM level or an individual component level. In addition showing schematic drawings of the product with component parts highlighted and purchasable can enable customers to quickly identify what they require and improve conversion rate.
Your manufacturing business needs to respond quickly to customers’ unique requirements. Your ecommerce solution can help you to design and coordinate your solution with online configure, price, quote (CPQ) capabilities. It can speed up the specification process and improve conversion rates. You can also extend your customer focussed solutions through your ecommerce platform, providing reminders when stocks need to be reordered and even offering interfaces with ‘smart’ equipment for online diagnostics.
With large complex products, part numbers, BoMs and customer specific pricing it’s paramount that your B2B Ecommerce Manufacturing platform is fully integrated with backend ERP / MRP systems. The key benefits of B2B Ecommerce are self service, and efficiency.. by fully integrating with backend systems such as SAP, Infor, Epicor, Sage, Microsoft Dynamics you enable the customer to access all the information they require for full self service ecommerce.
Often as a key part of a supply chain, it’s important to be fully integrated with your customers and suppliers. Punchout support is built into Cloudfy and enables direct integration, allowing your customers to place orders, repeat orders, calloffs directly within their systems. Through Punchout integration you receive real time orders directly from your customers further automating manual business processes on each side.
Empowering your sales team
By streamlining your sales process with ecommerce you can liberate your sales team from administrative tasks so that they can focus on improved customer service. They can become consultative product experts and brand ambassadors. As you collect data about your customer’s online behaviour you will be able to identify key points where your team can provide proactive advice and support. Acknowledging that many buyers prefer to complete their orders online, you can still incentivise your sales professionals when they have supported online purchases.
By supporting them with a mobile ecommerce tool like mSeller and you can also make your printed product catalogues obsolete. Your field sales team can share your latest product information with customers using an iPad, place the order and print receipts on the spot.
We would like to show you how Cloudfy can deliver all of this for your manufacturing business and more. Please get in touch for a demonstration.