An increasing number of manufacturers are looking to eCommerce to maintain customer loyalty while in turn reaching new customers this year. Many of these companies are also facing the challenge of evaluating their eCommerce platform to ensure it can meet the increasingly complex demands of today’s digital market.
The ability to handle and provide seamless self-service capabilities, subscription purchases alongside non-subscription purchases, manage pricing and promotion rules for specific segments or account levels without relying on IT support, and more, are becoming critical requirements. According to Statista, it is estimated that 17% of B2B sales will come from digital channels in 2023. Also, the North American B2B eCommerce market is expected to hit $1.8 trillion in 2023.
Manufacturers are particularly focused on adding new capabilities according to a survey by Digital Commerce 360 showing that 61% of B2B retailers prioritized eCommerce platforms and applications for 2022, with a focus on adding new capabilities.
The vast array of available eCommerce platforms and solutions can be overwhelming, and manufacturers must weigh the pros and cons of each option to determine which will best meet their requirements. To make the right choice, manufacturers must consider a variety of factors and how their existing systems, processes, and teams will integrate with the new eCommerce technology.
Why Are Manufacturers Replatforming Now?
In the ever-evolving world of eCommerce, manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to improve their online presence and reach customers more effectively. Replatforming their eCommerce platform is one solution that many manufacturers are turning to in order to keep up with the latest developments and stay ahead of the competition.
With numerous options available in the market, identifying your company’s top drivers to replatform can also help guide you in choosing the most suitable eCommerce technology for your company long-term. Below we explore key factors that are driving many manufacturers to replatform their eCommerce platforms and the benefits they hope to achieve through this process.
Scalability is critical for manufacturers when choosing eCommerce technology. The platform they choose must have the ability to accommodate growth as their business expands, which is why it is important to select a solution that can manage complex product catalogs, pricing and promotions, order management, and handle high volumes of transactions.
Scalability is also crucial for manufacturers who plan to expand into new markets or add new product lines, as the platform must be able to support these changes and provide the necessary resources to handle increased traffic, sales, and transactions.
To ensure scalability, manufacturers should look for an eCommerce platform that is built on a flexible, open-source architecture, which enables the platform to easily integrate with other systems and technology, as well as the ability to scale resources as needed.
Moreover, a platform with a robust API architecture is also important, as it enables manufacturers to easily add new features, integrations, and customizations as their business evolves. This provides manufacturers with the flexibility to respond quickly to changing market conditions, customer needs, and business goals.
Ease of Use & System Integration
Ease of use and system integration are two important factors when choosing an eCommerce platform for manufacturers. An easy-to-use platform allows manufacturers to quickly and efficiently update their site with new products, promotions, and content, without needing extensive technical expertise. This saves time and ensures that their site is always up-to-date and attractive to customers.
Additionally, an eCommerce platform that integrates seamlessly with existing systems and processes can help manufacturers streamline their operations, reduce manual work, and improve efficiency. For example, if the platform integrates with an order management system, manufacturers can automate the process of updating stock levels and shipping information, reducing the risk of errors and improving customer satisfaction. Or integration with shipping solutions can help manufacturers improve their shipping processes, by automatically generating shipping labels, tracking numbers, and providing real-time shipping updates to customers.
A headless commerce platform can make it easier for manufacturers to integrate customer data from multiple sources into their eCommerce site, providing a more complete view of the customer journey and enabling more effective targeting and personalization. This in turn can help increase customer engagement, loyalty, and lifetime value.
Customer Portal & Account Self-Service
The customer portal and account self-service capabilities in eCommerce technology are essential for modern manufacturers. These features provide significant benefits for both business customers and the sales and service staff that support them.
For business customers, the customer portal and account self-service capabilities offer a convenient and user-friendly way to manage their accounts, view their order history, track shipments, and access product information. This allows customers to be more self-sufficient and reduces the amount of time they need to spend on the phone or waiting for email responses.
For the sales and service staff that support customers, these tools allow them to focus on more complex tasks, such as developing new businesses and strengthening customer relationships. By reducing the time they spend on routine tasks, they are able to provide a higher level of customer support and build stronger, more meaningful customer relationships.
Moreover, customer portal and account self-service capabilities can help manufacturers increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing a more personalized, efficient, and streamlined experience. This in turn can lead to increased sales and revenue as well as reduced operational costs.
A headless commerce platform can help support these efforts by providing a flexible and scalable foundation for delivering tailored, personalized experiences to customers. This can include custom-built portals that allow customers to manage their accounts, view order history, and place new orders, as well as streamlined checkout processes and the ability to support various payment options.
Frictionless Omnichannel Experiences
Having an omnichannel eCommerce technology that can allow for more personalized experiences, regardless of where they choose to shop.
Consider eCommerce technology that can allow for these features either now or in the future:
- Customer Segmentation: Manufacturers can segment their customers based on demographic information, purchase history, and other criteria, which enables them to deliver personalized experiences to different customer groups.
- Product Recommendations: Ability to customize product recommendations to increase customer engagement and drive sales.
- Multi-Channel Integration: Easily integrates with various sales channels, including online and offline, allowing manufacturers to provide a consistent shopping experience for their customers across all channels.
- Mobile Optimization: Offers mobile-optimized experiences, ensuring that customers have a seamless shopping experience on their mobile devices.
- Cross-Channel Order Management: Provides a centralized order management system that enables manufacturers to manage orders from multiple sales channels from one location.
- Real-Time Inventory: Add real-time inventory updates, enabling you as the manufacturer to manage your inventory effectively and ensure that customers always have access to accurate product information.
The ability to personalize the shopping experience not only improves customer satisfaction but can also drive higher sales and increase customer loyalty. Having an eCommerce technology with omnichannel capabilities is a crucial component for manufacturers looking to grow their business and remain competitive in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive eCommerce landscape.Multi-Site & Multi-Tenant
Many manufacturers now require multi-site, multi-tenant eCommerce technology. This is at its core a single platform that can manage multiple sites offers a unified customer view and simplifies operations. This way, the manufacturer can manage all their sites from one centralized location, eliminating the need to switch between multiple systems.
A multi-site, multi-tenant platform also ensures consistency across all sites, helping the manufacturer to maintain a consistent brand image and customer experience. This not only enhances customer engagement but also boosts the overall efficiency of business operations.
The single platform can also provide a centralized view of data, making it easier to analyze sales trends, customer behavior, and market trends.
Understanding The eCommerce Technology Landscape
When evaluating eCommerce vendors, it is crucial to have a good understanding of the various platform types available. Having a clear understanding of the different types of platforms below can help you make an informed decision about the best solution for your business needs and goals.
A monolithic eCommerce platform integrates the backend systems, such as order management and inventory, with the frontend systems, such as the checkout process and customer accounts. Although it was once the norm in eCommerce, many companies are now looking to headless and composable options.
This platform separates the backend and frontend systems, communicating through API calls. This allows developers to focus on backend functionality without impacting other parts of the platform, making it more flexible than monolithic systems. However, it’s important to note that a separate monolithic frontend and backend (fake headless) can still exist.
Similar to a headless platform, this option uses cloud-based backend and frontend systems communicating via APIs. The difference is it uses packaged business capabilities to group microservices together, making each function separate and contained for added flexibility and ease of upgrades. Composable solutions can vary, so be sure to consider the amount of IT involvement for integration and workflow building, as this can increase costs and resources.
SaaS and On-Premise
eCommerce technology today primarily consists of two structures: on-premise or SaaS. Both structures have their own pros and cons, and the preference for one over the other depends on companies’ requirements. It’s essential to understand how each option works before making a decision.
SaaS is a licensing model where software is hosted by a vendor and accessed by subscription. The subscription covers access to the software, updates, upgrades, security, and maintenance.
On-premise platforms are managed internally by a company and involve a one-time purchase. It includes an external hosting fee and an annual maintenance contract with the vendor. The company owns the software but is responsible for its upkeep including hosting, security, and upgrades.
Making Wise eCommerce Technology Investments
To ensure you invest in technology that prioritizes the business user and simplifies tech management, it’s important to realign your business and technology teams. Look for solutions with comprehensive out-of-the-box commerce capabilities, such as integrations, APIs, workflows, data unification, and user interfaces, to meet your business needs, freeing up the IT team to drive revenue through new functions and features.
Additionally, it can be challenging to predict the necessary eCommerce functionality for the future, but choosing the right platform can make it easier. A modular and scalable system that is capable of adapting to changes in omnichannel shopping behaviors, customer expectations, and technology is crucial. If your current eCommerce platform is not flexible enough to grow with your business or if you have doubts about its scalability, it may be time to consider a new solution.
Choosing the right eCommerce technology can be a complex and challenging process for manufacturers. Look for an experienced partner that has expertise in manufacturing eCommerce to help your team navigate this complex landscape and make the right choice.
Ready to consider a new solution? Register for a 15-minute webinar of Kibo eCommerce.