Best practices from B2C e-commerce sites can help industrial manufacturers reduce costs and increase sales online.
E-Commerce Trends in Industrial Manufacturing
Contributed by Ashwin Nayan Rai
Best practices from B2C ecommerce sites can help industrial manufacturers reduce costs and increase sales online.
Adoption of e-commerce by industrial manufacturers has been unexpectedly slow, due to challenges such as the need to custom configure products, offer complex promotions involving specific terms and conditions, and execute multiple bulk orders quickly.
However, when implemented effectively, e-commerce delivers an engaging, buyer-centric online experience while allowing industrial manufacturers to reduce administrative costs, increase sales and improve brand loyalty. They can do so by adopting best practices in B2B ecommerce such as targeting customers with buyer-specific promotions, recommendations and messages, increasing brand visibility through social networking and opening new markets and channels through alternate business models such as mobile commerce.
Consider a large U.S.-based HVAC manufacturer that asked Cognizant to help revamp its ecommerce portal from multiple standalone applications for functions such as search, order and cart processing to a single rich Internet application-based portal. Among the capabilities provided were better navigation and robust cart capabilities; improved pricing and availability; multiple search and display options and marketing tools to help cross-sell and up-sell products. Within one year of its implementation, the manufacturer saw online orders rise 300% and parts sales rise by close to 150%.
The three key drivers of an industrial manufacturing e-commerce solution are expediting the shopping process, enhancing the customer experience and taking advantage of future trends and tools.
The customer must be able to effectively search for products and quickly complete their purchase. Industrial manufacturers must make it easy to find products. For instance, display “recently viewed and purchased” items and popular customer buys, provide multiple search options and the ability to filter on the basis of specific attributes. It is also important to make the checkout process easy, convenient and quick.
Personalizing the site to reflect each customer's needs and providing a rich online experience help enhance the customer experience and to make it easier to shop.
Personalization requires providing customer-focused marketing campaigns and promotions such as banners, recommendations and special offers. Just as vendors have done in the B2C space, industrial manufacturers can display customer-specific promotions prominently on the home page to up-sell and cross-sell products.
A rich online experience visually guides shoppers between steps, lets them easily search for, filter and compare products, and see comments by others (or contribute their own comments) via social media. This increases customer satisfaction as well as the size and frequency of online orders.
Leverage the Latest Tools and Techniques
As e-commerce and in-store channels converge with mobile networks, customers will be able to check promotions, product descriptions and reviews by past purchasers via their mobile and smart phones. Making it easy for them to also purchase via these devices requires single-click check-out with a seamless flow of payment and shipping information between the seller's ecommerce and m-commerce engines.
Sellers should have a real-time view into the Web store and into marketing campaign performance, and be able to monitor lead conversion and Web site metrics to maximize the site's effectiveness. They should also be able to analyze cart abandonment, the performance of promotions and campaigns and have visibility into live transactions and customers details to identify up-sell opportunities.
Using the same skills and capabilities that have revolutionized B2C ecommerce, industrial manufacturers are enhancing the customer experience while reducing costs and maximizing their revenue.
Read the white paper From Brick to Click: E-Commerce Trends in Industrial Manufacturing and learn more about Cognizant's manufacturing solutions.