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Time to open up the shop?

Terry Markle
11 Sep 2019 · 3 min read

AmazeRealise strategist Terry Markle discusses how ecommerce and thinking like an ecommerce business will be key to the success of manufacturers.

Expecting E-commerce

For many manufacturers – especially those who supply components rather than finished goods like appliances – making a wholesale shift to ecommerce may be impractical.

Yet even if opening a direct-to-consumer channel isn’t possible, brands need to start thinking like an ecommerce business and using ecommerce principles throughout their customer journey.

With years of experimentation and research under their belt, the ecommerce industry has become a leader in understanding consumer behaviour, optimising funnels, and measuring the effectiveness of every step of the journey.

As your site becomes the centrepiece of your new customer experience – taking on roles previously fulfilled by resellers – understanding and applying ecommerce principles throughout the customer journey can have a major impact on your ability to persuade and convince new clients and consumers, even if you aren’t directly transacting online.

We’ve helped businesses do this in a number of different ways, most recently Laerdal Medical, a medical device manufacturer.

As with many b2b businesses, they needed to bring to life their product catalogue, while also providing quick and easy access to key product information such as warranty information, training etc.

This resulted in a full rebuild of B2B ecommerce sites, including solutions, accessories, and critically, product bundles. They also needed to deliver high value information at the relevant time in a customer’s journey, e.g ensuring hospitals and training providers make the right choice that delivers best value and the best return on their investments.

Continual optimisation is now in sight, taking the best of b2c thinking, and applying it to a b2b world. Comprehensive a/b and multi-variate testing programmes, personalisation tools, automatic landing pages generated based on behaviour will be used to deliver effective engagement and conversion.

What’s Stopping You?

What is it that distinguishes retailers – who have been amongst the first and best to realise the benefits of digital – from other industries that, with a few notable exceptions aside, are yet to fully embrace it?

Partly it’s cultural. If your business hasn’t traditionally needed to engage directly with customers, or get social, or be a digital innovator, it’s not as though you can flick a switch. Partly it’s technological. And partly it’s a matter of knowledge. You may have a marketing department who have been champing at the bit to put their understanding of digital to the test. Then again, you might not.

So the shift to owning the customer experience is one that needs leadership support from within, the right technology, and (if you don’t possess it in-house) partnership with someone who knows a) how to engineer the cultural shift, b) which technological changes to make, and c) how to create a digital strategy and put it to work.

Opening Up

As a manufacturer, there’s a huge opportunity for you to build a new dialogue with consumers and clients if you’re willing to follow the examples of B2C brands. You can develop long-lasting, personal relationships with customers. You can tap into new markets in your existing territories. You can expand your global reach.

Take the time and effort to understand your customers’ behaviours and expectations, then build strategies to provide them with correct and timely information and tools that serve their needs, and watch how the traditional relationship changes.

Brands are no longer obliged to stay hidden behind retailers – no one expects that any more, least of all the retailers themselves who long ago accepted that brands can and will find their own routes to consumers.

It’s time for manufacturers to step in and start owning a part of the customer experience.

 

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