This post was originally published at TheEE
Businesses in the manufacturing and distribution sectors have been hit hard during the pandemic. While many office workers are able to safely switch to a remote work setup, those that deal with physical products don’t have this luxury. As more and more shoppers, including B2B buyers, turn online, manufacturers that took their digital strategy seriously are seeing their investment pay off. For those that put off B2B eCommerce or implemented a poorly-fitted solution, it will be a matter of when, not if, the rising tide of eCommerce catches up to them.
This was the focus of the talk between Manufacturing journalist Thomas R. Cutler and Motti Danino, Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Oro Inc. They shed some light on the changing attitudes towards remote work in manufacturing and why B2B eCommerce will play a central role in this transition.
Motti Danino, COO at Oro Inc, leads global operations, partnerships, and marketing at OroCommerce. Before that, he led the eCommerce cloud division at Magento, a well-known SaaS eCommerce platform.
Thomas: What are the top considerations for manufacturers and distributors as the COVID pandemic continues?
Motti: We see that manufacturers and distributors of industrial products continue to be impacted. Some industries are able to operate with a remote workforce, but this doesn’t apply to everyone. Many manufacturing jobs must be performed on-site.
In the early days of the pandemic, many manufacturers, distributors, and industrial retailers could not switch to a remote workforce. Instead, they realized the importance of optimizing for effectiveness and are now finding arrangements for some members of the team to work remotely.
Thomas: How can manufacturers succeed in managing a distributed team?
Motti: Some manufacturers turn to digital technologies such as process automation, while others rely on in-person interactions. As COVID spread, many thought it’s impossible for these industries to adopt a distributed way of work without losing productivity and a sense of teamwork. This is a false presumption.
Manufacturers and distributors of physical goods are no strangers to disruption. Many already use the latest in automation, robotics, and cloud computing technology. Still, they must review communication, project management, customer relationship management (CRM), and business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce tools to see how they can further digital transformation.
Thomas: Are manufacturers aggressively investing in B2B eCommerce?
Motti: Manufacturing firms in the $75 million-plus range weathered the storm well since they went into the pandemic with digital sales channels in place. Still, the boost in online traffic kick-started investments into eCommerce, helping manufacturers recover losses from in-person sales.
With the help of eCommerce, brands could shift to adjacent markets, focus on new customer types, and better meet the needs within their industries. That is the reality of doing business in the new, pandemic-driven manufacturing world.
Thomas: How should manufacturers determine what teams must be present on the production or warehouse floor?
Motti: They should start by revisiting existing processes and engineering tasks. Can they leverage IIoT (industrial internet of things), AR, photo, video, chat, teleconferencing technology to enhance performance and maintain a safe work environment? Manufacturers now prioritize investments into health and safety, and digital collaboration and communication tools can be used on the factory or warehouse floor to limit physical contact.
In the early days of the pandemic, many manufacturers hoped that things would go back to normal. Others, however, realized that unique situations call for unique solutions. Thankfully, there are many solutions that help B2Bs overcome obstacles to remote work and effective collaboration.
Great manufacturing leaders know that to market, sell, and offer customers the best experience in our new environment, they need the right tools for the job. OroCommerce’s B2B eCommerce platform with a built-in CRM solution is a must-have in their technology stack.
Read the full interview on The Evolving Enterprise.