How to launch B2B eCommerce for manufacturers

by | Jan 9, 2024

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Our team at Aleran recently sat down with Kurt Dressel, an independent industry consultant specializing in B2B Commerce. 

He and Tarak Patel, VP of Product at Aleran Software, discussed how manufacturers can take advantage of digital technologies to improve customer experience and address the unique challenges and opportunities in their industry.

In this first video segment, they covered the best practices to adopt B2B eCommerce for manufacturers in 2024.

How can manufacturers battle “fear of the unknown” among their teams when considering B2B eCommerce?

Patel advises manufacturers to communicate early and often so everyone knows what to expect and when – including what is in it for them. 

He also recommends:

  • Identify a champion who can positively influence change.
  • Create space to engage Sales early so that Sales can really understand their new world and identify areas where they can leverage the technology.
  • The more invested everyone is early in the process, the more successful the implementation will be.

What sort of information and services are customers typically able to access through a self-serve eCommerce portal and how can this also benefit the Sales team?

An aspect that sometimes isn’t considered is how much customers like the idea of being able to self-serve, said Dressel. And, not just for placing orders, but for managing their accounts and overall relationship.

Patel agreed, affirming that is why engaging with customers early is also key to find out what they think is important and what info they would like to have on a self-serve basis. This could include invoice lookup, payment status, discount levels, user management, and requesting new quotes. 

“Customers generally like being able to self-serve and if it’s possible to free up the sales team and give them more time to grow the account relationship or develop new accounts- that’s a real win-win for everyone,” said Patel.

What are additional first steps manufacturers can take to make the case for B2B eCommerce to get started?

Getting started on their eCommerce journey it may seem an impossible mountain to climb for many manufacturers, said Dressel. Every business is different, but he offered a few practical steps that can make the digital journey a bit easier.

  1. The most important aspect has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with identifying business priorities and securing executive and board level leadership to ensure a successful transition to a more digital business.
  2. Although suppliers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering eCommerce, improving supplier communication and the purchasing process can help to build a sound case for eCommerce. 
  3. Another system that can help build a strong foundation for transactional commerce is a PIM or Product Information Management system. 
  4. Last, make sure to highlight the power that digital commerce gives you to extend your market by selling to new and different customers and/or to new geographic regions

Looking ahead

Successful implementation of B2B eCommerce for manufacturers requires the Sales team to be engaged early and to drive the process. By adopting the right technology, communicating effectively with partners, and implementing strategies that enhance the overall customer experience, relationships will become deeper through a mutual win-win.

And as manufacturers don’t let fears of channel conflicts get in the way of growth, they too can think more creatively to leverage and better integrate technology across the organization to achieve scalable growth.

Check out our “Ultimate Guide for B2B eCommerce for Manufacturers” for even more to drive your 2024 sales success.

About Aleran

Aleran’s unified digital commerce platform is built to meet B2B buyer expectations so manufacturers can quickly, easily and efficiently accelerate and transform sales.

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