Most of us have heard the expression, “the 3 most important things in real estate are location, location, location.”
In today’s internet-dominated economy, any manufacturer who expects to compete, sustain profitability, and grow, must accept that ‘Customer-Facing’ strategies using the internet are critical, and the three most important things here are collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.
Bi-directional communication with your customers and prospects is not a “nice-to-have” anymore, it is mandatory.
70-80% of purchases are decided via the internet BEFORE the customer actually contacts you, so the easier you make it for people to find you, understand your value and products, and execute a purchase, the more business you will have.
Most people conjure up a quick image of manufacturing eCommerce as a storefront that simply sells stuff online. They are unaware of the importance of eCommerce as a dynamic system that offers much more. Let’s take a look.
Everyone has Service Parts
Statistics reveal that 25-30% of the sales of most discrete manufacturers are comprised of add-on products such as spares, replacement parts or new features. Therefore, this is one of the key areas that can benefit from integrated eCommerce. With eCommerce, you can set up a personalized environment that makes it easy for your customer to find the exact part they need, order it, and ship it. They can access supporting documentation such as parts diagrams, manuals, and past histories of orders. And, this can happen without a call to your order department, without any time consuming lookup, and without any time consuming status checks.
Benefits of Manufacturing eCommerce
Give Your Customers What They Want
Easy find: You can setup special access for the customer that accesses only the information they need. No more fumbling through screens and searching for the items that might pertain to other customers. Their unique portal pertains to them and them alone. And, customers can also access documents like blueprints, part diagrams, and manuals.
An example of a product data presented graphically and in Bill of Material format. Courtesy of WorkWise.
Easy checkout: Your customers can now review their order for correctness right on the screen in front of them. No more complaints that the order person must have made a mistake.
An example of eCommerce purchase checkout screen. Courtesy of WorkWise.
Easy pay: Companies are realizing the advantages of pay and go. This lowers their administrative loads, particularly in regard to frequent low dollar purchases.
Quick Quotes: Another advantage of eCommerce is the ability to quickly enter and produce a quick quote. This saves the time of finding and contacting an order person, waiting on the phone, and waiting for the quote to be sent.
Status check: eCommerce also provides an easy way to check on the status of an order with a quick lookup. If you choose, they can also determine where the order is in operations. Yet another use of eCommerce is for advising the customer on upcoming shipping dates.
An example of a Customer Portal where a customer can view order status. Courtesy of WorkWise.
Open 24 X 7: eCommerce is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, which is not typically available from manned order desks
Cross and up sell: When you know the interests and activities of your customers, you can begin to offer them the types of products that uniquely interest them. Cross selling and up selling become easier, as you position offers that are relevant to that customer.
Get maximum efficiency from your valuable resources
Customer: You don’t like waiting on the phone to reach a resource, why would you put your customers through the same process? Now your customers can order and confirm everything right on their own screens.
Admin: Once your customers learn the advantages of ordering online, you will no longer have to waste the time that your current staff spends duplicating every step of their process.
Another common area for savings is in the elimination of errors. These errors are not only in entry of the order, but also in understanding the communications of the customer. When customers enter orders themselves, they receive immediate visual confirmation of their order, and the number of errors drops substantially.
Yet another laborious, difficult task is that of invoice collections and bad debt chasing. eCommerce provides for current payment techniques that can collect your funds immediately, and avoid the accounts receivable chase.
It is fully integrated to your manufacturing systems
Available to promise: With the eCommerce system being integrated to your manufacturing system, customers can also check the status of inventory, stage of production, and how many units could be promised in the near term.
Product configuration: Your eCommerce system can also be connected to your product configuration system, thereby allowing your customers to choose the options and features that interest them. Explaining these options and features can often be difficult or impossible on the phone. This gives your customer the benefit of a wide selection of product while still allowing automatic processing.
Personal Portal: Through the integration with your business system, you have the ability to offer you customer a vast selection of information from many areas of your business. Want to show your customer the bill of material (BOM)? Want to share parts diagrams or blueprints or parts explosions? An eCommerce system can do all that.
Alerts and reminders: Yet one more advantage of an eCommerce is the ability to keep customer communications up –to-date. You can issue alerts and reminders that keep your customer in the loop, and are relevant to the activities within your business. For example, do you want to let you customer know when their order has shipped?
An eCommerce system offers significant value to both you and your customer. For the customer, it provides both convenience and a communication channel that didn’t exist previously. For you, eCommerce provides a way to improve your efficiencies, while offering better value to your customer. We were all taught as children that to share is a good thing. Use eCommerce to share your talents, and your value with your customers, and your growth will be exponential.