Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce. Actually sounds quite interesting, right?
An “old-school” traditional business taking on new technology.
Well, eCommerce isn’t really new anymore.
It’s an active part of our daily lives now. At least it certainly seems that way.
The convenience, efficiency and speed that eCommerce offers.
However, manufacturers implementing eCommerce for the first time face many challenges.
Especially for custom manufacturers that do not produce a proprietary product or finished good.
Related Article: 3 Step Approach To Scaling eCommerce for Manufacturers
Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce Opens New Doors
Implementing eCommerce awakens exciting opportunities and opens new doors.
As a custom manufacturer, you produce amazing products for other companies.
You are the widget expert. No one knows your product better than you.
You have spent years perfecting your proprietary process.
Yet, one of your biggest challenges: how do you scale your proprietary process?
There must be plenty of potential customers searching for your products, services, and solutions.
Where are they?
How do you find them?
How can you narrow down the buying process to make life easier for you and more importantly, the buyer?
The answer: eCommerce.
Just a few years ago, many manufacturing clients claimed the internet wasn’t going to impact their company.
Now, most cannot move fast enough to plunge into the world of eCommerce.
“The Heat is On” (shout out to Glen Fry, God rest his soul).
So, how do you get started?
Let’s dig in.
Below covers two options for a manufacturer implementing eCommerce for the first time.
Option #1) Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce
Add an eCommerce store onto your existing website
First, contact your web designer to start a dialog on launching an eCommerce store to your current website.
In a previous post, we discussed the struggles manufacturers face when jumping into the world of eCommerce.
Over the years, you most likely have created prototypes for your customers.
Let’s use that same concept on your website.
The assumption is that you already have a website. What platform are you using?
Have a conversation with your web designer and ask if you can easily add eCommerce to your site.
For example, if you are on WordPress, your web designer can add the WooCommerce plugin. It’s FREE!
There are many other shopping cart options that are extremely inexpensive.
Many eCommerce platforms start at ONLY $19.99 per month (EX: Shopify, BigCommerce, 3D Cart, etc…).
Take several of your finished products and add them to your website.
Adding an eCommerce store to your website offers many benefits including:
- Customers access your business 24/7/365 = round the clock customer service & a powerful sales tool
- Find Soulmates (aka Ideal Customers)
- Eliminate the cumbersome RFQ process
- No A/R = Credit card payments means you are paid before you ship! YAY!!
- Lower cost marketing and sales strategy
- Market Research (eCommerce becomes your R&D department)
- Stay in your Wheelhouse
- Network = Cross Network with other vendors targeting the same market
- International opportunities
- Implementing eCommerce allows you to Scale Your Proprietary Process
Related Article: eCommerce Checklist: Manufacturing eCommerce Strategies
Option #2) Custom Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce
Allow Customers to Customize Your Product
Another option for manufacturers to enter the eCommerce world, allows customers to build your products on your website.
Well, what is your sales process when a new customer reaches out?
Does the new customer submit a Request for Quote (RFQ)?
If so, you then kick start the quoting process.
Of course, you were already busy when the RFQ arrived.
Now you need to set aside other top priorities to accommodate the new customer. You don’t want to make a bad first impression. Speed is key.
You look over the drawing. Check out the parts on the BOM (Bill of Materials).
Lookup component prices and availability.
Determine the labor units. Amount of time on machinery. The number of touches. Lead time for parts.
You’ve gone through this process probably thousands of times.
In addition, do you receive RFQ’s that drift off in areas outside of your expertise? Outside of your wheelhouse?
Odds are the answer is yes.
It really becomes a bit more challenging to determine the quote for a new customer especially for products and processes that fall outside of your expertise.
Now they are waiting.
What if you could streamline the RFQ process?
Just imagine if you could narrow the process into an automated system that was available to a new customer online, 24/7.
Sounds like heaven, right?
First, create a starting point.
Narrow down your product line. Begin with limited options.
Focus on the most popular. The most profitable. The most simplistic.
You have a proprietary process that you perfected over the years. Well, pretty close anyway.
Can you take that process to guide a customer into your funnel?
Let’s go deeper.
Related Article: Hey Manufacturer, What’s on Your Menu? Perhaps a Plate of eCommerce?
Does your business experience the 80/20 rule?
Most businesses do.
For example, let’s evaluate the 20% of your products and processes that generate 80% of your sales and profits.
Your top selling products.
- Take the raw material, parts and components that go into that product
- Calculate the labor units
- Add in machine time that goes into each unit
Provide this information on your website.
Offer a price right away to the user.
Well, though the system may not be perfect to start, this at least gets you in the game.
Related Article: A Minimum Viable Product Helps You “Get in the Game”
Implementing eCommerce Gets in the Game….Immediately
So many of my clients state, “If I can just get a customer on the phone, we can close them.”
Creating a customized instant quoting process removes the bottleneck on the front end of the relationship.
You can state that the price is based on a single unit.
This would be interesting for potential customers working on a prototype.
It opens a door to start an immediate dialog.
Allows you to show your experience and expertise.
You now have a warm lead.
This opens the door to express your passion for their project.
What are you doing at this point?
You are now engaging. Building a relationship. Showing off your expertise.
Revealing that you are capable of solving your customer’s problem. Quickly.
Showing that you are a person of trust. A valuable partner.
Lastly, implementing eCommerce to start the quoting process lends a tremendous competitive advantage for your company.
Wrapping It Up
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
For additional info, check out these helpful posts:
- Top 13 Reasons Why Manufacturers Struggle with eCommerce
- 25 Blog Topics for Manufacturers Eager to Start Blogging
- 19 Tips for Curing “I Hate Change” (Plus a Healthy Dose of eCommerce)