Our customers for digital marketing for manufacturers are telling us two trends that are going to shape the landscape after COVID-19.
- The first is that a lot manufacturing is going to be coming back home in critical industries like pharmaceuticals, food, critical medical equipment, and medical supplies.
- The second major trend is that dramatically more B2B products will be sold online via eCommerce.
Digital Marketing has never been more important for manufacturers, distributors, and business service companies. Those few manufacturing companies that had already adopted strong digital marketing programs have been able to communicate easily with customers and prospects, shift their marketing messages on a dime to reflect realities that changed in days, and keep selling products online while their competitors laid off sales staff and saw trade shows canceled. Going forward, healthy companies will invest even more in Digital Marketing so they can keep competing.
eCommerce for manufacturing is our agency’s focus now. We see this as mandatory for the entire B2B marketplace and our new mission is to enable eCommerce for our customers.
We want to make eCommerce less daunting and enable aggressive companies to shift online ahead of their competition. There are THREE KEYS to success in moving your business online fast!
We see companies who move to eCommerce succeed when they focus on the 80/20 rule; get those products online fast that provide you 80% of your profitability but are only 20% of your SKUs. Getting 100 products online in a few weeks with great presentation will have a lot more impact than getting 1000 products in your store with no images, poor descriptions, and half-baked eCommerce processes.
Amazon and eBay have set the standard for eCommerce and B2B companies have the same expectations for trust, detailed information, and a seamless process from first look to produce delivery. Now, with manufacturing products often needing engineering support, the process is not always all online. There can be interim solutions like putting products in a cart to then “get a quote”, instead of buying directly. If you need to start small just improving your digital presentation, then do it.
Build The Right Team, That’s More than IT
Face it, if you had the internal IT staff to build an eCommerce presence, wouldn’t it be finished already? Way too many companies start building their own systems only to find out there are far simpler solutions off the shelf or in the cloud. The best practices of eCommerce have a lot more to do with marketing, selling, and customer service than they do with IT.
Successful companies will build a team of vendors, internal support, and management champions. In larger implementations, multiple teams can get better and faster results. Often the most challenging part of an eCommerce project will be integrating the ERP system with the eCommerce store. We have seen companies spend years on this integration doing it themselves instead of hiring an expert. Cross functional teams smoothly merged with outside experts can get the job done quickly and right the first time.
Start Small, Test, and Grow
The number one issue we see with new eCommerce projects is the demand that they be perfect when they launch. A program of starting with small segments of the larger program, testing those segments in realistic environments and growing into your final eCommerce system is critical. Tests are designed to FAIL so you can identify important mistakes. Projects with a lot of built in test points that are allowed to fail so fixes are made will be delivered way earlier than projects that build and build and build then finally test.
Analyzing bottlenecks in the processes, seeing where customers are having trouble, and experimenting with different solutions is critical after launch. Learning as you do is clearly the best way for this to get done fast. Identifying those products that will teach you the most is important in building the initial eCommerce setup so that tests results can be extrapolated to all the products.
There can be no doubt that emerging trends will drive more manufacturing back to the USA and also drive ALL manufacturing companies online in the near future. Get ahead of this curve and start now preparing to be great in the new digital world.