Focus On: Customer empowerment in the Manufacturing Industry

manufacturing focus
Find out how the digitally-driven B2B consumer of today could help revolutionise your manufacturing company. We’ll give you a clue: it’s all about customer empowerment.

Due to the rise in the techie customer, there has been a lot of negative talk around how this complicates things for B2B sectors such as the Manufacturing Industry. In fact, it is the very opposite – it poses a fantastic opportunity for you to transform your business. You can streamline your order processing, maximise the efficiency of your resources, and improve that all-important customer experience. How? By choosing the right eCommerce platform that plays to the strengths of your manufacturing business, and the key to this is customer empowerment. 

Do these challenges seem familiar?

We are well aware of the kinds of challenges you face on a daily basis – ask yourself if any of the following seem familiar to you…

1) Intensifying competition

Over the past decade there has been a rapid increase in the competition within the sector, and this has led to a huge amount of pressure being put on manufacturers to provide competitive pricing and service. All this whilst trying to lower operational costings and increase workforce efficiency and system productivity, has become one huge challenge for the people trying to perform a balancing act. And let’s not forget that none of this can be seen by the customer, who demands satisfaction on every level.

2) Customer expectation

The customer has changed drastically over an even shorter period of time, coming to expect more of a B2C approach in their purchasing behaviour. They want you to be always-online, always-available and provide them with an experience that is engaging, unique to the marketplace and incredibly easy to navigate. Customer expectations are higher than they have ever been.

3) Product complexity

Product complexity has become a natural by-product of these issues. The consumer demands more product information, reviews and videos in order to make a completely informed decision before purchasing, but the competition driving businesses forward has meant they now need to provide a much more diverse range, requiring the best search functionality available. 

4) Restrictions on time-to-market and market expansion

Due to the need to provide more niche-market products, the time needed to take a product to market has massively increased. For many manufacturers, a huge concern is the sheer number of restrictions a product must first go through, accreditations to receive and the complete visibility needed of all information. This has greatly increased the costs in this area, but it has also meant that expansion into new markets is halted frequently, stalling and potentially harming the growth of your business.

5) Poor brand loyalty

All of these issues combined could have left you with an eCommerce platform that performs poorly in the marketplace, and doesn’t inspire customers to return to you. The key concerns for consumers are: ease of navigation, providing a fast and easy-to-use ordering system, providing full account management and historical data, always be online and good customer service. If all of these elements are being hindered by your current solution then it is time for an overhaul. Are your customers easily confused by the complex nature of your site or the lack of product information? Are they finding it difficult to find you on the channels they expect you to be on or the ones they feel the most comfortable with? Are you providing the customer service they deserve by addressing these key areas?

We can help you tackle them!

We know that these challenges can seem never-ending in the Manufacturing Industry, but our eCommerce solution can help you solve all of those problems, and here’s how…

1) Intensifying competition

With the right eCommerce solution, you can easily ensure that you stay ahead of your competitors. In the manufacturing industry, the key to growth is the customer. Customer experience is everything, and right now they are becoming more and more demanding. So, how can you turn this around to work for you? If you empower the customer by developing your eCommerce solution, you can streamline your own operations. For example, order entry can provide a wealth of issues, such as duplicated data errors, unnecessary resources devoted to phone calls and manual order entry, and even lost orders due to a lack of real-time data. 

If you go with a system like Omnia, which is built inside of SAP, all of these issues are eliminated, because its SAP-based CMS allows you to access Master Data and the customer to access their invoicing and so on. This means that you have what all your competitors crave: faster, simplistic and streamlined operations, with lower costs, customer visibility of order data and maximum resource efficiency.

2) Customer expectation

There are many business advantages that come with empowering the customer though, aside from day-to-day operations. By simplifying the selling and purchasing processes for the customer, they will see you as the best in the market to deal with; people want ease of use, they want good customer service, and most importantly, they want it delivered in a fast, comprehensive and easy-to-use system!

With Omnia, you can configure every aspect of your site to reflect what your customer wants and needs. We talked earlier about how the challenge with consumer expectations was that they want you to always be available no matter what the touchpoint. With our omni-channel approach, this has never been easier to manage, because all your data, marketing material, sales promotions and so forth are available from the central CMS. With the ability to customise all of these aspects however you wish, you can provide them with the engaging experience they want, and in a way that is simple to use, leaving them with no excuse not to come back to you.

3) Product complexity

We have dealt with the visual aspects of the customer expectations, but what about the product complexity we also mentioned? Well, the consumer demands more in the way of product information and recommendations because they want to make an informed decision. They are taking a leaf out of the B2C book here, looking to fellow users of your products to influence them, so take advantage of it. 

You can provide this easily with the Omnia CMS, and your marketing team can easily update the information almost instantly as and when products change, so that your customers will always be the ones who are the most up to date. Plus, you have multiple catalogue management, so that you can easily manage your differing product ranges across websites from one central system.

4) Restrictions on time-to-market and market expansion

If you are going to improve an area like time-to-market, the proper management of resources is absolutely critical. If you want to expand into new markets, then getting the product information from concept to sell is the most important thing, so you need to prioritize your ability to do this. Where you save on the cost is by making the rest of your business more efficient, so that more of your resources can be assigned to this area. 

In an ideal world, we would shorten our time-to-market, but I’m sure those of your reading this are aware that this is no easy task. So, if you opt for a B2B portal which is an SAP-centric solution, this provides a huge ROI and transformation of your processes.

5) Poor brand loyalty

Brand loyalty is very difficult to achieve in such a crowded marketplace, but it is not impossible, and we can help you achieve it. All of the issues we identified earlier can be solved with our omni-channel, single-system solution; the navigation can be controlled via an intelligent search function to aid the consumer’s ability to locate the products they want, as fast as possible, while our approach ensures that you provide brand-consistency and continuity across all your touchpoints. 

Personalizing your site to reflect your customer's needs provides them with an experience unlike your competitors. Not only does it make them feel like they are more than just an addition to your Google Analytics, but by giving them the ability to manage users, manage their orders and so on, empowerment makes them want to return. They know that by coming to you, they get a platform that is tailored to their needs and demands, and they have the control over that relationship with you.

Personalization can come in many forms; from the language style you apply across your site, to the consumer-centric marketing campaigns and promotions threaded amongst your pages, it is possible to drive the B2B consumer in the same way as B2C. If your customer empowerment is paramount, your customer service improves and your brand loyalty will keep people returning, purchase after purchase.

If you’d like to learn more ways that our Omnia solution can help your manufacturing business to thrive in an ever-crowded and rapidly changing marketplace, then visit our homepage or get in touch!