Most small and medium manufacturers are run by great people that have developed a unique product through years of hard work, research, and development. However, we find common issues when working with new clients in the manufacturing space that keep them from capitalizing on their hard work.
When initially embracing eCommerce, many manufacturers don’t know how to successfully sell directly to consumers (B2C) without disrupting their current dealer and distributor model (B2B).
Selling to consumers rather than dealers and distributors requires a focus on product information, visual representations of the product, ease of purchasing, and retail strategy. Let’s take a look at some of these issues in greater detail.
Most manufacturing websites are overly detailed and technical for B2C commerce.Manufacturers are great at providing the technical specs for their products, such as materials used, the engineering behind the product, the wide variety of options available, and even the type of machinery used to make the product. All of this information can help technically-minded buyers. Still, we’ve seen more remarkable results from offering simplified information about the product that focuses on the benefits of ownership rather than the specs about the product. Additionally, to suit the technical buyer’s needs, additional specs and information are best included in a technical data sheet in the form of a downloadable PDF or moved to a popup window or an accordion-style menu.
Most manufacturer websites have low-quality photos. Generally, small and medium manufacturers don’t have a staff photographer. However, if a company wants to sell online, you must have great photos. Investing in photography can significantly increase the chances that someone will buy from you. The pictures and video of your product increase your ability to help shoppers make a buying decision, which is your greatest challenge as you compete with brick and mortar stores. It’s hard to compete with looking at a product in your hand, but you can reduce that disadvantage with great images and videography.
Most manufacturers have an extensive and disorganized navigation menu. As new products launch, the navigation menu grows to an unreasonable size without a thoughtful organization strategy. A dedicated user interface designer can use analytical data to make graphical and organizational changes that make the product catalog easier to browse.
Most manufacturers have a dated website design that lacks modern features. Many companies neglect to improve their website regularly. We’ve found that without a continuous improvement plan, a website becomes stagnant, information is incorrect and eventually requires an expensive redesign. A better strategy is to improve your website throughout the years continuously. Regularly investing in your website removes the need to make a large investment every few years, and as a benefit, your customers benefit from a better website experience.
Finally, many manufacturers upset their dealer and distributor relationships by competing directly with their wholesale customers. By choosing an eCommerce approach that values the dealer, most manufacturers can avoid upsetting their supply chain and third-party customers, while offering a great retail experience for the direct-to-consumer market. Special incentives, pricing strategies, closeouts, exclusives, payment terms, and bundles help the manufacturer provide value directly to their retail customers while protecting their long time wholesale customers.
If you’re a manufacturer and need a team of experienced professionals to help you embrace eCommerce, contact the Ballistic Agency team. We love working with manufacturers! Since 2008, a large percentage of Ballistic Agency clients are American manufacturing businesses, which is a point of pride for us. We’d love to help you achieve Optimized eCommerce™.