Maximize the Benefits from eCommerce
Expand Your Customer Pool. An eCommerce store drastically expands your potential customer pool beyond the usual retailers and dealers who do business with you. For instance, maybe you’re accustomed to selling certain products in North America during certain seasons. But how would you like access to a global customer pool across the World Wide Web, selling to buyers in the Southern Hemisphere when North America is out of season?
Raise Awareness. The mere act of putting up a webshop with information about your products and company is an opportunity to raise awareness. Being in charge of your website and webshop means taking control over the way your brand is portrayed. And if you use smart search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, your company shows up in more search results.
Gather Data. An eCommerce store is like a matchmaker, bringing you and your customer together. A webshop enables your customer to find you and your products as easily as they can search Google. Meanwhile, that eCommerce store also enables you to gather data about them (through website shopping patterns and voluntary personal disclosures) to refine your product offerings and marketing.
As a wholesaler or manufacturer, how do you maximize the benefits of eCommerce?
Start Now – Define Yourself. Expanding your business is an easy thing to procrastinate, especially when you don’t know an exact return on investment. But the sooner you put up an eCommerce shop, the sooner you, as a manufacturer, begin to define yourself and begin to experience the benefits of an eCommerce presence.
Don’t let yourself be defined by others. If you, as a wholesaler or manufacturer, go online with your product offerings sooner rather than later, you also gain a head start on other wholesalers or manufacturers that have yet to discover the benefits of the internet.
Start Now – For Search’s Sake. Search engines like Google and Bing take time to index your new eCommerce store. Your store may not show up in manufacturer search results for a few months. These search engines also take into account how long a page has been up, so if you want to appear in the top search results for your chosen specialty, it’s best to get a page up ASAP.
Display Products Clearly. Selling in the manufacturing industry can be a complex process. Many people on the buying end need to be informed about the purchase (from CFOs to engineers). And buyers do not want to waste their time. When visiting your website, buyers decide very quickly whether or not you have what they are looking for. Make sure your product offers are clear with rich descriptions and accompanying images, so you don’t frustrate potential customers.
Allow Search. The search bar is your friend. When making quick decisions, buyers like to immediately find what they’re looking for. If they’re in a hurry, they probably don’t want to browse through the entire product catalog. Filtered search allows prospective customers to set parameters for inclusion and exclusion of certain search results. Put the power of discovery in their hands.
Give In-Depth Information on Products. Once a visitor knows that you’re offering what they’re looking for, they need specifics. A search and a product description might be enough for B2C eCommerce, but buyers in the manufacturing space often require more information. They may even be looking for a depth of customization options not offered by some B2C eCommerce solutions.
Your potential consumer may need information such as operations procedures, materials used, measurements, schematics, pricing breakdowns, or other details. All specifications should be available at the click of a button, making things very easy for prospective buyers.
And because the minute differences between specs often magnify to an exponential difference between products, your customers will appreciate the ability to compare several products side-by-side for comparison.
CADs and Downloads. Computer-aided designs (CADs) make excellent downloadable content for manufacturers. By providing the most detailed specs for your products, you show your honesty and integrity as a vendor. Also, because visitors asking for a CAD are already showing a deeper interest in your products, go ahead and offer the designs in exchange for that visitor filling out a sign-up form. Obtaining personal information allows you to follow up with your lead and capture more knowledge about what they’re looking for.
Shipping. Even at check out, it’s still possible to lose a customer. If you have certain requirements for purchase, such as terms and conditions or minimum order quantities, these should be presented up front. If you want to retain customer trust, be clear with book-by dates and shipping dates. When you take the customer’s information, follow-up with emails to keep them updated. They’ll appreciate it.
International buyers may also need special consideration for geography, currency, and language. The latter two can be handled by a localized website and an eCommerce solution that is optimized for international business.