Building a Manufacturing eCommerce Strategy in 12 Steps
Learn why manufacturers need eCommerce and get tips for building an eCommerce for manufacturing strategy.
According to a survey conducted in early 2023, 50% of manufacturers prioritize eCommerce in their digital transformation, and it’s no surprise why. In 2022, manufacturing eCommerce sales reached over 623 billion dollars in the United States. This figure is up from 543 billion dollars in 2021.
D2C vs. B2B
Nowadays, customers are accustomed to going directly to the source when researching products and services and making purchases from a brand. Manufacturing eCommerce is booming, and the demand for manufacturers to sell Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) is growing. By implementing eCommerce, manufacturers can position their brand where customers are shopping and gain insight into their customer’s needs and increase their freedom to innovate. But manufacturers must balance the benefits of D2C with the additional costs of in-house marketing, sales, and other expertise traditionally outsourced to the supply chain.
D2C strategies aside, many manufacturers are implementing eCommerce to serve their B2B customers, aka wholesalers, distributors or dealers. Buyers want to buy digitally, even in professional B2B scenarios, and manufacturers are realizing that their counterparts who don’t leverage EDI or integrated procurement systems are missing out. That’s why B2B eCommerce has become an equally popular approach among manufacturers that streamlines sales, even for complex products or scenarios requiring product configuration, quotes, or special pricing agreements.
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Here are 12 steps to consider when building your manufacturing eCommerce strategy, regardless if it’s D2C or B2B:
1. Define Your Market and Audience
The first step in establishing a successful online presence is to identify your target market and buyer personas. Seek to understand your customers’ needs, preferences, expectations, aspirations, and buying behaviors. Create buyer personas with a clear vision of ideal customers that will inform your strategic decisions down the road.
Compliment these steps with competitor research. Analyze their eCommerce strategies and assess how much they fulfill customer needs and expectations in online purchasing. Identify any gaps and opportunities for improvement.
2. Select and Present Products:
The next step in building a manufacturing eCommerce strategy is product curation. Choose which products to sell online based on demand, profitability and complexity. Create high-quality product images, descriptions, and specifications to help customers quickly and clearly understand how the products will fulfill their needs and requirements. Organize products into categories for easy, efficient navigation. The goal is for the customer to move smoothly, quickly, and confidently through the sales process.
3. Select an eCommerce Platform:
eCommerce platforms are not one-size-fits-all. Choose an eCommerce platform that suits your business needs, particularly one that meets your B2B, B2C, or D2C requirements, depending on whether you plan to sell to distributors, customers, or both. Consider factors such as scalability, customization, ease of integration with existing systems, and user-friendliness. Look for a solution that offers advanced capabilities like quoting, invoice management, configure-price-quote (CPQ), and Product Information Management (PIM), mainly so that you can fulfill D2C and B2B demands.
4. Design the User Experience (UX):
A compelling UX can distinguish your site from the competition by offering a memorable and positive experience. Reference your buyer personas to design an intuitive and user-friendly website layout. Ensure the design is responsive so customers can seamlessly browse the site with any device. Optimize page load times to prevent customers from bouncing and minimize purchase process friction to improve purchase rates.
5. Integrate Inventory Systems and Determine Fulfillment Solutions:
To achieve efficient operations, accurately process orders, and provide seamless customer experiences with your eCommerce platform, you must integrate inventory management systems and determine fulfillment solutions. Integrate your eCommerce platform with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or inventory management system to accurately track stock and prevent overselling out-of-stock products. Develop an efficient order fulfillment process to ensure timely delivery and customer satisfaction. Consider options like dropshipping, warehousing, or direct shipping from manufacturing facilities to simplify these processes.
6. Determine Pricing and Promotions:
Manufacturers selling D2C have the unique opportunity to establish direct relationships with their end customers and control their pricing strategies. Thus, manufacturers must determine pricing models that align with their goals strategically. Leverage customer insights to gain insight into how pricing influences buying decisions. Offer promotions, discounts, and bundles to attract and retain customers – even for your B2B customers like distributors.
7. Prioritize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Visibility:
Many online buying journeys begin with a search engine. To ensure your company and products are easily discoverable, you must optimize your product listings and website content for search engines. Implement relevant keywords, meta tags, and other SEO strategies so that your customers find your products when looking for ways to solve problems. Consider investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to increase visibility with a broader audience and drive targeted traffic to your website.
8. Utilize Analytics and Data Insights:
eCommerce platforms allow manufacturers to collect and utilize vast amounts of valuable data. Use analytics tools to track website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates. Analyze the data to identify trends, customer preferences, and areas for improvement.
9. Integrate with Existing Solutions:
Chances are, many of your existing solutions are functioning effectively for your business, and if so, it is crucial to preserve and enhance those current systems. Integrating your enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and other systems with your eCommerce platform is essential. Successful integration will streamline operations and data flow by ensuring a single source of truth for your business and eliminating redundancies in both data and workflows.
10. Develop a Marketing and Promotion Strategy:
Marketing and promotion play a vital role in manufacturing eCommerce strategies. To elevate your brand above the competition, develop a comprehensive digital marketing plan, including social media, content marketing, and email campaigns. Leverage social media platforms and influencer partnerships to expand your reach. Incorporate personalization into your marketing strategy to capture your customers’ attention and prove the relevance of your brand.
11. Optimize for Mobile:
In 2023, global mobile eCommerce sales are worth 2.2 trillion dollars, 59 percent of all eCommerce sales. The value and percentage are set to grow, reaching an anticipated 3.4 trillion dollars and 62% by 2027. To be a part of this movement and fulfill your customers' expectations, ensure that your eCommerce website is optimized for mobile devices.
12. Make Continuous Improvements:
Creating and launching an eCommerce store or ordering portal is a monumental accomplishment, but the work continues beyond there. You must collect and regularly analyze performance metrics and customer feedback to identify areas for enhancement. Stay up to date with market trends and technological advancements so that you can adapt and evolve your eCommerce strategy over time.
Dynamicweb eCommerce for Manufacturers
A D2C eCommerce site for manufacturers has the potential to be more than just another way to sell products. It can boost brand awareness, drive growth, increase revenue, and transform customer experiences. Manufacturers need a seamless end-to-end platform that can handle the unique requirements of manufacturing companies and buyers. DynamicWeb’s cloud-based all-in-one platform is a turnkey solution allowing manufacturers to bring their eCommerce presence to life quickly and at low risk.