In short: DON’T. You simply shouldn’t. Before you drop off here, let us explain why. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced several barriers to businesses. One, in particular, is the traditional way of selling—with physical catalogs. Recently IKEA stopped printing their highly successful catalog after 70 years. Now you might be wondering, should all manufacturers follow suit?
Your business needs a digital catalog
The answer is yes. Even if you do not abandon physical catalogs altogether, it is a good idea to have a digitalized version of your product and solution offering. Customer expectations are now being shaped by leading B2C retail platforms. Finding the right products to buy should take just a few clicks. If your customers have to manually comb through hundreds or thousands of items, taking hours to buy what they need, they will look elsewhere.
What about the platform?
Your next question is probably the platform. Should you create a digital spare parts catalog on WordPress? We already gave you the short answer, but let us explain further. If your manufacturing business uses an ERP, the answer must be no. The catalog plugins made for WordPress are not made with manufacturing complexities in mind. They provide no integration with your ERP—the backbone of your business.
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ERP integration is vital for a digital spare parts catalog. It allows you to ensure that your client-facing information—from prices, inventory levels through to product data—is flawless. That said, manufacturers should also tread carefully with general-purpose solutions from large enterprise technology providers. These solutions are not built to fit manufacturing businesses.
Take ERP integration, for example. This process alone can generate huge—and unnecessary—costs from system integrators, middleware, and consultant hours. And even then, there is no guarantee that you get the needle-moving features you need. And if integration is not done well, you incur even more costs due to pricing errors, inefficiencies, or business loss due to unhappy customers.
With a cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution built for manufacturing, your risks are reduced significantly. SaaS solutions are built to be agile and flexible enough to fit into your IT environment via powerful APIs—ideal for a long-term go-to-market strategy. With tight ERP integration, populating your digital spare parts catalog also becomes a breeze. This step is automated and can be done quickly and error-free.
If your digital spare parts catalog is part of a Digital Sales Platform, your business becomes even more accessible. Once your customers are done browsing, they can add the products into a cart and order instantly. There is no need for emails, calls, or faxes. Your customer finds what they need and buys it from you in a matter of minutes.
Conclusion: Ramp up digital
In these challenging times, manufacturers need to ramp up their digital capabilities to serve customers better. A digital spare parts catalog is simply one gap in the manufacturing sales process. From a holistic viewpoint, plugging this gap would expose several others in your sales process.
Once your customers find the product they need, how will they buy from you? Can they configure it to fit their needs? Do you know how often they would need it? What machines are they using it for? Would they come back again?
These are just some questions that a robust Digital Sales Platform can answer.