With the technology landscape changing swiftly and environmental factors demanding digital transformation more quickly than ever, now is the time to get on board with eCommerce for manufacturers.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce or electronic commerce refers to any business conducted by two parties in an online setting. eCommerce generally occurs through an online sales portal.
Some of the most well-known examples of online marketplaces are Amazon and Alibaba. However, more and more businesses are creating eCommerce portals within their own websites.
There are two main types of eCommerce: Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B).
The Difference Between B2B and B2C eCommerce
The first example, B2C, can been seen in online marketplaces like Alibaba and Amazon. Even a small manufacturer can create their own eCommerce framework to sell directly to consumers, thus avoiding a marketplace middleman, like Amazon.
The second example, B2B, is a bit more complex. The relationships shared between of manufacturers, partners, and suppliers involve more moving parts. We are talking about systems comprised of complicated workflows, customer-specific pricing structures, multiple buyer personas and multi-site instances.
B2B eCommerce goes beyond a website of products and a customer’s shopping cart.
B2B eCommerce has the power to digitally transform a traditional manufacturing business into a modern enterprise.
Why Should Manufacturers Invest in eCommerce?
2020 saw perhaps the most dramatic increase in eCommerce activity ever. This was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses had to find a way to conduct sales and deliver their products to customers in a safe and convenient way. The adoption of eCommerce was a clear choice for many. However, according to eCommerce thought leaders at Digital Commerce 360, “80% of companies still depend primarily on their internal sales force to drive revenue, and that nearly three-fourths of manufacturers—70%—don’t have a comprehensive digital commerce strategy in place.”
For some manufacturers, digital transformation may be met with resistance for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common excuses include:
- We do not need more software/technology.
- We do not sell direct to consumers, so what is the point?
- The business is not prepared for that level of change.
- We are doing fine without it.
- We already tried that and were unsuccessful.
- The price is a barrier to entry.
- We have salespeople for that.
- We are unique, it will not work us.
- We’re a people company and eCommerce is too impersonal.
These reasons and many more are provided by executives and managers who do not acknowledge that the writing is on the wall. Unfortunately for them, businesses that fail to adopt new technology have a tendency to fall out of favor with customers.
As more young talent joins the workforce, the need to incorporate modern technology and tools increases, too. Companies that are open to adopting technology to increase business performance are innovators and employees respond to tech-literate companies.
Businesses that are slow to adopt or flat-out reject digital transformation fail to remain competitive in terms of performance and in attracting new talent.
If not for convenience, new revenue streams, or attracting young talent to an organization, manufacturers should consider eCommerce for the insight it provides.
As customers make those online purchases, data is recorded. Companies can then use this data to understand their customer habits in more detail. Knowing who buys what at what time and in what quantity can enable more efficient sales practices and better customer satisfaction.
According to Digital Commerce 360, “eCommerce sales will reach $839.02 billion by the end of 2020 with an incredible 40.3% growth from 2019, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. eCommerce growth in at least two decades.” By Q3 alone, US eCommerce sales rose nearly 40%.
This amount of growth is simply too big to ignore. The rise in eCommerce adoption is only increasing as manufacturers acknowledge customers’ need to access products and services on their own terms.
The Benefits of eCommerce for Manufacturers
Beyond making the buyer’s journey more convenient, eCommerce adoption offers three key benefits:
We will break these key benefits down to show you how eCommerce solutions can enable your manufacturing business with a whole new dimension.
Efficiency Through eCommerce
Efficiency through eCommerce adoption can be achieved in several ways.
First, your sales staff can be freed to pursue higher-value sales and relationship-building. With expansive tools and capabilities at their disposal, your team is more effective in the sales cycle and the company’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is reduced.
Cost savings also come in the form of cost of acquisition. That is, bringing in new customers costs you less. By leveraging digital marketing advancements, your business can identify, attract, and convert new customers far more easily when the gateway to their next purchase is accessed by a few clicks or taps on their digital device.
Sometimes, you just don’t want to talk to a rep to place a PO. By giving customers the ability to serve themselves through an eCommerce portal, they are empowered to control their buying journey. Access to relevant data like buying history, order status, quoting, and point of sale (POS), ensures your customers can make that next purchase regardless of your sales reps’ availability.
Finally, eCommerce ensures your customers are introduced to your latest offerings. This can be an improved product, promoted item, or components on which you make the greatest margin. eCommerce gives you the ability to put your targeted products front and center to an audience looking to buy here and now.
Engaging Customers Through eCommerce
Above, we touched on delivering the right product at the right time to your customers. eCommerce makes that process easier and more organic. By delivering an intuitive and familiar online experience, your customers will return, rather than see what your competitors are offering.
More customers are researching and buying online than ever. To ignore this trend is negligent at best and self-destructive at worst. Being where your customers are and giving them the means to direct their buying journey ensures they remain engaged with your company and inform your services alongside their needs.
More data may seem like a headache for the traditionally aligned manufacturer. However, with more data, you are better equipped to make informed decisions that benefit your business.
eCommerce sales data can be an invaluable resource in directing your efforts. Product configurations that do not sell can be scrapped, reworked, or remarketed to satisfy the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you are looking at when making business decisions. That’s visibility for you and your business. What about the customer?
eCommerce solutions allow customers to configure products online, view and access your entire catalogue of products and match part availability based on specific needs.
How Manufacturers Increase Revenue With eCommerce
When it comes to manufacturers’ c-suite, sometimes all that matters is the bottom line. If revenue is the only means of steering your company one way or the other, eCommerce makes a compelling case.
The fact of the matter is that customers, whether individuals or businesses, are online. According to one eCommerce software provider, as many as 75% of all B2B product purchase are now made online. Not only that but surveys revealed “1 in 3 buyers confess that they would choose a vendor, solely based on the ability to place, pay for, track and return orders online.”
Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.
You read that right. Manufacturers need to be looking at an eCommerce arm for their marketing and sales activities. In doing so, manufacturers will not only be able to serve existing customers but also retain them at higher rates.
As new customer introduction and acquisition increases alongside eCommerce, manufacturers can increase their market share. The result is a more consistent recurring revenue stream.
By making purchasing easier and improving the overall customer experience, manufacturers can increase revenue per customer by intelligently marketing to them based on eCommerce activity. These personalized buying experiences offer ample opportunities for reorders, cross-selling, and upselling with ease.
Getting started with eCommerce
There are many options available for manufacturers interested in integrating eCommerce tools into their tech stack. Unfortunately, it can be as much of a burden as it is a blessing to be so spoiled for choice.
On the other hand, evaluating eCommerce solutions based on the larger needs of your company can be a sound business decision.
That is why manufacturers should consider Epicor ERP and its available eCommerce functionality. This simple addition can make the process of entering the realm of eCommerce quick and painless. Not only this, but Epicor ERP serves to support your business with a single source of truth that serves as the foundation for all your business operations and decision making.
Epicor ERP has designed their eCommerce solution, Epicor Commerce Connect (ECC), to be live on your website in as few as 5 days.
Epicor Commerce Connect
Epicor Commerce Connect is a comprehensive eCommerce solution that works with Magento and is tightly integrated with the Epicor ERP.
A key capability for manufacturers to modernize their business, Epicor Commerce Connect offers productivity of a cloud-based, fully-integrated digital commerce system. With ECC, manufacturers can communicate their brand value, make available unique product offerings, and compete in today’s online digital marketplace.
Fully integrated with Epicor ERP, ECC avoids multiple databases while delivering streamlined ordering, marketing, SEO, visibility, rich information, and customer service – all in real time, for a highly competitive price. ECC also provides added operational savings with a one-stop-shop ECC solution with flexible Cloud-based deployment, rapid implementation, and high scalability for rapid ROI.
ECC provides responsive mobile eCommerce adapting to different screen sizes on smart devices at a time and place of the buyer’s choosing. ECC can be your basis for continued business growth and a compelling, productive future.
Your customers will experience a modern eCommerce website with convenience, ease-of-use and easy repeat purchasing.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.