Digital & B2C commerce solutions in manufacturing
B2C commerce solutions for manufacturing
Manufacturers are searching for ways for their businesses to recover. Entering new markets through B2C commerce is a way manufacturers can try to increase their reach. Here are some ways that a manufacturer could try to reach a retail consumer:
- Retail storefronts
Not the most cost-effective method, and with the recent dramatic change in consumer buying behaviour, it is better to adopt a digital-first strategy.
- Online marketplaces
For manufacturers wanting a quick entry into a digital market, online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba can be a great starting point. Just be aware that you may not have the ability to market your brand as you would really prefer.
- Creating a direct-to-consumer ecommerce platform
For obvious reasons, this is the method we suggest. It can be pricier, but what you gain in control, scalability, potential profits, and agility can make up for much of that initial cost.
Many manufacturers have branched out to increase market share, moving from a traditional B2B business model to selling directly to their end consumers. Building new sales channels can be done in a few ways: opening retail storefront locations, selling through a marketplace like Amazon and Alibaba, or creating your own B2B & B2C commerce platform. Let’s talk about each briefly.
To be brutally honest, this probably isn’t the option most manufacturers are going to go for if they want to get into B2C markets quickly. Here are a few reasons:
- Overhead. Having a brick-and-mortar location is costly. Having many of them is even more so.
- Staffing. Retail staffing is notoriously difficult, and the costs are rising to keep employees safe when working in-person sales.
- Lack of scalability. Adding multiple physical locations comes with logistics problems and large capital investments that make it hard to scale rapidly.
- Overall buyer resistance. The next generation of shoppers wants to be able to do their research and shopping from behind the comfort and security of their computers.
Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay are three of the world’s top online marketplaces and are a great option for potential mass distribution. These online marketplaces have definite pros and cons.
- Fast launch times. If speed-to-market is your motivator, these online marketplaces already have the platform in place to get your product up and selling. At what rate, is to be determined. It takes a lot of marketing push to make individual products stand out. Manufacturers may want to start with B2B online marketplaces, like Amazon Business.
- Established platforms. The platform is ready-built, the tech is already supported, and there is a large customer base ready-made.
- Lack of marketing control. In most cases, your marketing team will have to expend more energy to promote your brand to consumers on these platforms because you don’t own the data for precision targeting.
Creating a direct-to-consumer ecommerce platform
Creating your own B2B and B2C digital commerce platform is not the easiest solution. It may require outside resources and considerable investment, but it offers many advantages.
- Increased profits. You will be able to get your full MSRP rather than wholesale prices for your products.
- Faster time-to-market. Rapidly prototype, test, and push products to market. This gives you a distinct competitive advantage.
- Brand control. By talking directly to the end consumer, you eliminate the risk of your brand being diluted or misrepresented by third parties.
- Price control. Manufacturers have the opportunity to reinforce their MSRP as well as control when and how your products are discounted in retail.
- Better customer data. Selling directly to consumers allows you to collect unique and specific customer data that can ultimately result in better products, stronger relationships, and increased sales.
Digital commerce that supports B2B & B2C
To effectively sell directly to consumers you’ll need a platform for your digital operations that supports both your B2B and B2C sales needs. The ability to support multiple account types and product pricing based on those accounts is an example of the adaptability you will need.
Your ecommerce platform will need the ability to deliver order fulfillment information, shipment tracking, secure payments, customer service management, and sales and marketing activity tracking while providing a 360° view of all your B2B and B2C customer interactions.
This is done by integrating as many of your operational systems as possible into your digital commerce platform. No more siloed systems. By integrating your ERP, production, accounting, finance and CRM systems into each other, you increase data flow and improve data accuracy. With accurate data, you can create better business plans, target marketing campaigns and identify areas where operations can be improved.
Manufacturers should consider adding B2C commerce solutions as both a risk and an opportunity. It does mean rethinking customer relationships and restructuring some operational elements. It may even mean replacing some internal systems to improve the flow of information through the business. These can be big investments and take considerable time. However, manufacturers that retain ONLY their old B2B models risk falling behind competitors that actively choose more agile and responsive solutions.
How Acro Commerce can help
If you are a manufacturer and ready to start talking about adopting B2C commerce solutions or streamlining your digital operations, our team can help.
We can help you look at the different ways you can adapt your current tech architecture, optimize workflows and automate processes where possible.
Finally, we can help your organization develop and adopt a B2C ecommerce strategy that works for your business.