The global pandemic has led to significant market changes for the manufacturing sector — from spending cuts, to supply chain disruptions, to the shuttering of many traditional retail establishments. In February and March 2020 the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reported that 35.5% of manufacturers were facing supply chain disruption, 53% anticipated changes in operations, and 78% felt COVID-19 would impact their business.
Though manufacturing sales flattened in 2020, the landscape for manufactured goods and B2B e-commerce are clearly on the rebound in 2021.
A new report from DigitalCommerce360 names e-commerce adoption as a strategic imperative for manufacturers in 2021, revealing that most manufacturers are currently selling more online than on any other channel. Still, many manufacturers remain reluctant when it comes to heeding the siren call of the web.
The survey of 800+ manufacturers also found that 98% of companies already have an e-commerce channel in place or are in the process of adding one, citing increased sales, improved customer relationships, increased profit margin, and improved product/brand awareness as the primary reasons for accelerating adoption.
The B2B buyer has changed
As a result of their largely frictionless experience as consumers, today’s B2B buyers have grown more demanding, with higher expectations for everything from page load times, to detailed product info and demos, to quick checkout and self-service. Within manufacturing, the ability to re-order, sales history access, and explainer videos are all highly sought after by B2B buyers. But while B2B buyers may want the convenience of B2C, the buying journeys for those audiences remain quite different and therefore require a distinct approach to address their needs effectively.
Today’s B2B transactions tend to be complex, with variable pricing structures and a significantly longer sales cycle than anything found in B2C. B2B purchasing decisions, therefore, can involve an array of decision makers and stakeholders, a huge quantity of products and specs, plus a growing number of competing sales channels.
Modern B2B buyers:
- Gather info independently on digital channels
- Spend less than 1/5 of their buying time meeting with potential suppliers
- Deal with 6-10 decision makers for every purchase
- Overwhelmingly describe their buying journey as “complex”
To help support B2B buyers through these different buying stages, manufacturers are on the hunt for ways to better enable the buying journey at all relevant touchpoints.
Finding the best fit B2B e-commerce platform
As manufacturers continue to embrace digital sales channels to succeed and compete, they are also finding that not all e-commerce platforms and tools are created equal. But with more sales channels and options than ever before, decision-makers are wondering how to find their best fit e-commerce solution?
Manufacturers who are having issues with the effectiveness of their e-commerce implementations need to think holistically about their B2B e-commerce channel strategy. That means taking the time to understand both the benefits and downsides of different platforms and selling models. Without careful consideration, they run the risk of alienating their trusted channel partners – distributors, resellers, sales agencies and retailers.
Ideally, the right e-commerce platform for your manufacturing business can be much more than a technology tool, acting as a partner to help you adapt and scale your business in a rapidly changing sales landscape.
To maximize value and return on investment, most manufacturers would be best served by choosing an all-in-one e-commerce platform that offers dedicated options for B2B and B2C e-commerce, alongside marketplace capabilities and ERP integration. In addition to offering you the full range of tools and services you need, you also want to be sure to choose a partner that understands the special requirements of manufacturing.
The right fit e-commerce platform solution will support your growth, offering tools and technology to connect and meet the respective needs of buyers, reps, agents, and channel partners alike.
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