E-Commerce has changed the way buyers think and what they expect. It is no secret that these expectations have spilled over into B2B. Customers from manufacturing businesses bring their digital retail expectations to work each day and are done with combing through catalogs, making phone calls, or opening service tickets to receive the purchasing information they need.
The "Amazon Effect" raises expectations for service, product selection, and technology for manufacturers that might be behind in technology by decades. And yes, COVID-19 has just accelerated this trend.
The urgency to invest in commerce
Gartner has found that digital commerce experienced another boost in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With none or minimal physical customer interactions possible during the crisis, businesses have come under pressure to implement new go-to-market models and new types of customer engagement.
According to this McKinsey report Sales leaders on average rate digital channels approximately twice as important now as they were before. The shifting customer buying behaviors are establishing digital engagement models as the new norm.
Investing in manufacturing commerce is easier than you think. Download our new Manufacturing Commerce Playbook to find out how you can get your digital store up and running in three months or less.
Why focus on after-market sales
After-market sales has long been underestimated as a critical pillar for revenue growth. But in fact, everything from spare parts, wear parts, and consumables, to maintenance and pay-as-you-go items has the potential to become a manufacturer's next low-cost-of-sales continuous revenue stream.
Let's look at some numbers:
- 69% of the B2B buyers want an omnichannel experience
- 67% of buyers are influenced by online channels
- 61% only look online for vendors to compile potential vendors
- And 58% start their buying journey online
- Most important, buyers who bought digitally are 2 to 8 times more likely to purchase from that business again
The last statement is especially true for after-sales. For industries such as Machinery & Equipment manufacturers, a digital offering of spare & wear parts or consumables can lead to net new customers—who will happily abandon competitors for the right product, at the right time and the right price.
The top 3 traits of a successful digital after-sales model
1. Help customers buy better, faster.
A best-in-class digital customer experience is an essential differentiator for every business and manufacturers - though having to manage a multitude of complexities from the supply chain through production and a less than straightforward sales process - are not excused.
An intuitive user experience and anytime-anywhere availability of comprehensive buying functions are at the core of what buyers expect. From browsing over product selection or configuration to shopping cart functions and first-class order and fulfillment management—a best-in-class digital customer experience will earn you loyalty that pays dividends.
2. Keep your customers coming back.
E-commerce fits hand in glove with digital marketing. Do your customers or dealers know exactly what they should buy from you? Can they learn all about your products and answer their questions at a click (or tap)?
Dynamic 2D or 3D visualizations - synced from a CPQ for Manufacturing - are certainly more convincing than a call from your customer service team. And this self-service can happen at any time of the day, in any language, and for any of your sales regions.
Imagine your after-sales shopfront is able to show spare parts or consumables matching the customer's install base. Think about how it affects purchase completion rates and shopping cart size when your customer gets the latest offers for products based on previous purchases and intelligent selling recommendations.
A suitable manufacturing commerce platform is fully integrated into your ERP backend. It will improve operational efficiency and enable the customer-centric focus required to win this game.
3. Empower sales to achieve more
So customers get the freedom to inform themselves about products, order online, and check their purchase status whenever they like - great! Now is the time to revolutionize your forward-facing customer operations. Sales and Customer Service are now freed up to focus on nurturing leads, building relationships.
They can also provide real value-adding service that will reflect on deal winning rates, customer satisfaction, and retention scores. And here's the bonus: Manual sales, order, fulfillment, and shipping data entry errors are eliminated, hence reducing the cost of sales significantly.
The digital self-serve model is thriving, and there is no going back to pre-Covid customer expectations. Manufacturers need to have a detailed look at the aftermarket lifetime value and match it with digital commerce opportunities.
Just as in retail, early commerce adopters in the manufacturing industry will increase their market share and leave the competition behind.
Don't miss out on these opportunities and learn more in our Manufacturing Commerce Playbook. Find out how the In Mind Cloud solution shortens the buying process from weeks to clicks.