A version of this post was initially published on Enterprise Technology Review.
For manufacturing companies, having a native set of B2B features in an eCommerce platform is a must. The B2B buying process is complex and requires its own workflow that is very unique from B2C. Manufacturing companies need a B2B platform that can allow for customization and optimization throughout this buying journey so that the customer experience is as smooth as possible.
Optimized Manufacturing Effectiveness (OME)
Prior to manufacturing companies selling directly to customers, manufacturers focused on Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) which focuses on how much product a machine is producing. As the shift to selling direct to customers grows, manufacturers are now focusing on Optimized Manufacturing Effectiveness (OME) which focuses on how to bring manufactured products directly to the B2B customer.
Since manufacturers now need to optimize the experience for both buyers and sellers, selecting a solution that offers a large array of B2B features out-of-the-box can greatly reduce the total cost of ownership. The ideal B2B eCommerce solution should easily integrate into 3rd party applications that are necessary for their eCommerce ecosystem. By selecting a platform that offers a comprehensive CRM and B2B eCommerce solution, manufacturers can focus on their OME and B2B customer experience.
Don’t Compromise on Quality
Manufacturers who don’t offer their products online typically focus on how quickly their product is made, whereas B2B eCommerce manufacturers who sell directly to their customers focus on how quickly their product is sold. Neither of the two can compromise on the quality of their products or the quality of their B2B buying experience. Having a B2B eCommerce platform that can handle a large amount of data and workflows is crucial to OME success. A platform that can go live quickly is almost guaranteed to result in a lower total cost of ownership, resulting in a faster return on investment.
Request for Quotes
Another way that manufacturers can achieve OME is by offering a digital request for quote process. By digitizing this process, buyers can ask for a quote at the click of a button and Sales is alerted almost immediately. Buyers should also have the option for a full self-service buying process that allows them to browse, add to cart, and checkout without the assistance of a sales representative. If a request for quote is initiated, the buyer and seller can come to an agreement digitally through the platform. Once a price is agreed upon, the negotiated pricing can be moved directly to cart and the buyer can finish the rest of the checkout process on their own.
Creating Workflow Automation in B2B eCommerce
One major benefit to automating manual processes within the B2B selling process is that you eliminate human error. Increasing data accuracy in purchase orders, customer information, and inventory is huge in increasing OME.
Data inaccuracies can lead to production hold or delays in order delivery. By eliminating human error through the use of automated workflows, manufacturers can increase their efficiency and even their customer satisfaction. OME results in employees being able to spend more time on customer service, run reports on product performance, and work on upsell opportunities.
As B2B buyers begin to demand more and expect more in regards to customer service and user experience, shifting from a B2C-focused eCommerce platform to a B2B-focused eCommerce platform will offer manufacturers a higher customer retention rate, scalability, and longevity. B2B eCommerce platforms like OroCommerce come with a built-in CRM that make it easy to integrate into your current technology stack to provide a first-in-class customer experience. The ability to integrate into 3rd party applications, such as ERPs and PIMs, will help manufacturers go to market faster and see a higher increase on their ROI.