6 ways B2B manufacturers can improve customer-centricity and boost revenue generation
Customer experience needs to be a top priority for manufacturers. This is a recommendation rooted in an ORM and Acquia study made back in 2019. Fast forward to today, this statement still rings true, but the urgency has multiplied since 2020’s global COVID-19 pandemic.
A frictionless buying experience—shown to be a powerful business differentiator by tech giant Amazon—is now the benchmark for all businesses. Including B2B manufacturing businesses like yours. Simply investing in factory floor technology is not enough.
Manufacturers need to ramp up investment into digitalization of other aspects of their company, specifically in sales and marketing to offer customers the best possible experience.
Digitalization of the sales process, like adding a digital commerce storefront for your customers to buy, for instance, can take just three months or less. But it also adds value to the entire business for many years to come.
E-commerce is not just another trend for manufacturers. It is a distinct advantage that can pay big dividends in the near future. Find out how you can launch a high-performance store in just three months with our Manufacturing Commerce Playbook.
Adding an ERP-integrated e-commerce store can be easy. However, manufacturers still face challenges during the optimization of their digital commerce store to offer a seamless buying experience.
Teasing out the full potential of your customer-facing (or partner-facing) portals can take some work—but it needs to be done.
Aside from the obvious reason of helping your customers buy better, your competitors are already investing heavily in e-commerce. In the latest B2B US Ecommerce Market Report, B2B e-commerce sales now stands at $2.19 trillion. B2B marketplaces are also muscling into this space, offering customers the opportunity to buy from several vendors at once.
Your manufacturing business still has the opportunity to recapture market share with a digital commerce store. But if your business is not standing out (or outstanding), your customers will shop somewhere else.
Optimizing your digital commerce store to help customers buy better
Your ERP, combined with an e-commerce store (supported by a CRM and CPQ), can open up the entire business for your customers, partners, and distributors. However, the work doesn’t stop after your store goes live. It may very well require more effort to maximize its full revenue-generating potential.
These steps involve enhancing the customer experience—which has a direct correlation with business performance. The better your customers can do their job, the more satisfied they are, and the more they will come back.
1. Provide a personalized buying experience through your digital store
- Personalization is a powerful business differentiator. According to research done by Evergage, personalization can help businesses achieve measurable lifts of up to 30%. Modern commerce stores can recognize a user’s company, and serve up the relevant information.
However, manufacturers can take it a step further by giving users a personalized experience. Fully utilize the powerful analytics provided by your commerce platform to augment the customer experience.
You can also consider offering contextualized information like relevant consumables based on purchase frequency or spare parts based on purchased machines.
2. Assemble a knowledgeable support team to help customers buy better
- A sure-fire way to keep customers coming back is by helping them do their job better. If your platform is still fresh, assisting customers in navigating it and buying faster can go a long way.
A strong team that can smoothly resolve your customers' issues will ensure they never need to turn to other vendors. This team should also include dedicated sales staff who can guide customers towards their end goal—buying from your store.
3. Offer customers the option to configure or customize products
- For manufacturers, the ability to configure products online is a serious advantage. And that can take customer experience to the next level. Manufacturers tend to have incredibly complex products that require deep technical or engineering knowledge when being sold.
With configuration (powered by a CPQ), your customers can decide what they need, see the price, and order immediately via your commerce platform or a digitally generated quotation and a short phone call.
4. Make your e-commerce store visually appealing and easy to navigate
- Your digital commerce site is made to sell. Having an attractive site with the proper branding and theme is excellent. But if your customers struggle to find what they need (product or information), it has already failed.
A profit-oriented site ensures that your customers can buy in a few clicks. An ideal e-commerce platform also has visual aids like 3D visualization, which can help customers navigate complex machinery to find the right parts.
Having the necessary options—like seamless payments for example—that lessen the friction of the buying journey also helps push customers towards conversion.
5. Differentiate between distributors (or partners) and customers
- Partners and distributors are an extension of your sales organization. At the same time, they also represent your customers.
Your portal needs to be smart enough to identify the right audience and serve up the relevant information they need to either buy (in small or large quantities) or configure a winning quote to seal the deal.
An e-commerce platform with integrated CRM and CPQ is powerful enough to serve both customers' and resellers' needs.
6. Expand the reach of your digital commerce presence via digital marketing
- Your customers are now consuming more content before they decide to buy. And the good news? Your B2B manufacturing firm is full of useful content that can help drive revenue.
Product catalogs, product descriptions, prices, engineering knowledge, and even experience. With digital marketing, you not only make this content easily available, but you also let your customers (new or existing) know that it exists.
The benefits here are two-fold. You give your customers what they need, and you establish your business as an industry leader.
Giving your customers a digital channel to buy is now imperative. Any delays will only cause your customers to disconnect from your business. Download our latest Manufacturing Commerce Playbook to find out how you can get a high-performance store up and running in less than 3 months.
You can also book a private consultation with one of our manufacturing experts to understand how the In Mind Cloud Digital Sales Platform can open new doors for your business.