Traditionally, most manufacturers have relied on distributor and partner relations for a major part of their sales. While this has helped build a customer base and create brand awareness, it has also resulted in a lack of direct engagement with customers.
B2B customers today increasingly act like end consumers, desiring self-service tools and instant access to order and product diaspora through their mobile devices. Most business buyers also prefer researching products on the web to fast track the decision making process. Customer understanding is thus key to building loyalty and being able to offer value added services across the B2B transaction lifecycle.
While manufacturers acknowledge this and want to be able to identify and engage with their customers, they need to first build concensus within the distributor network that new channels like e-commerce can co-exist with traditional channels as long as revenues continue to grow.
This makes it important for manufacturing companies to develop an e-commerce vision that is aligned with their business objectives and can embrace emerging trends. The right e-commerce strategy, which is customer centric, adapts to business model shifts, and is ready to take a technological leap, is key to realizing this vision.
Today’s businesses must strive to create the next innovative solution, as customers seek products and services that are better, faster, and cheaper. With advances in technology, e-commerce is vital to the success of manufacturers, who must utilize it to their maximum advantage. The possibilities with this technology are endless and industrial manufacturers can use it to increase profitability, enhance offerings and improve customer centricity.
E-commerce is not just about information technology, but a business undertaking in itself. The successful companies of the future will be those that take e-commerce in their stride. Although it is a front-ending medium that supports the B2B supply chain and direct interaction with customers, the success of e-commerce depends on the moving parts of the supply chain working efficiently and in harmony. A rich user experience through e-commerce can help raise customer expectations. However, businesses must ensure that the downstream supply chain fulfils these to avoid negative results.