How to Become a Digital Commerce-Powered Manufacturer

By Zilliant

Mar 16, 2021

Sit down (or have a video chat) with a commercial leader at a manufacturing company in 2021, and a number of themes are sure to come up in the conversation. Heading into 2020, market forces and digital requirements had come to a head. Now, after 12 months of a pandemic, those challenges only accelerated as we witnessed the resiliency of many manufacturers who had to pivot quickly, going against assumptions that the industry is slow-moving and set in its ways.  

The winds of change still blow, but manufacturers are gaining the confidence to pivot while anticipating change. This flexibility is critical to adopting innovative solutions to deal with: 

  • Raw material cost increases 
  • Workforce challenges 
  • Supply chain disruption 
  • Increased pressure for customer-centricity in eCommerce 

The changing role of sales in a digital world 

To explore these themes and more, we invited Manufacturing Industry SME Gary Brown and Director of Global Commerce Solutions Kyle Dreyer from our strategic partner Acumen Solutions to chat with us on the latest episode of the B2B Reimagined podcast. Both guests are immersed in the future of commercial excellence in the manufacturing space and are quick to emphasize the need for digital adoption and omnichannel eCommerce capabilities to meet the needs of suppliers, distributors and customers. 

“In today's world nearly everyone shops online and these experiences have significantly improved over the last few years. What that implies is that those individuals that are buying at a consumer level now have an expectation of what shopping online is like, and they now expect that same experience when they're buying on behalf of their company,” said Dreyer. “Customers view their time as money and they gravitate towards those organizations that allow buying online to be a simple process. The consequence of not delivering that experience is that you’re going to lose market share. The ROI has paid off for manufacturers that have invested in digital commerce." 

The prospect of eCommerce is not just a change in technology. Manufacturers must also consider potential shifts in strategy. Digital commerce has afforded manufacturers the ability to sell direct to consumers, eschewing the traditional distribution model. While there are significant benefits to this approach, it’s also important to avoid alienating distribution partners in the process.  

Acumen Solutions, a Salesforce Company, has a great deal of experience in helping manufacturers shift to a well-planned multi-channel strategy that accounts for potential channel conflicts. Our guests pointed out that distribution partners are consistently developing new value-added services that help customers realize maximum benefit from the products they’re buying. The manufacturer should always be cognizant of how distribution partners can service its direct clients. This means collaborating closely on key accounts and being willing to be transparent on things like pricing tiers and upcoming services opportunities. 

Distributor disintermediation opens up a new world of pricing complexity for the manufacturer as well. Coming up with the right price for the right customer, while determining how to offer differentiated pricing online, is new territory. Handling prices for this channel in strictly traditional terms can lead to market confusion, customer satisfaction issues and significant margin leakage. 

“The shift requires that pricing decisions are based on tiered market segmentation,” said Brown. “Analytics can certainly help in making those decisions, but gaps can be found if there’s a need for looking at potential what-if scenarios and the impact that these decisions can have on revenue, profitability and volume throughout the channel.” 

Listen to the episode to learn about how leading manufacturers are adopting advanced technology to deliver dynamic pricing across channels, responding optimally to market triggers and providing customer-centric experiences to both end users and distributors.  

Hear the full conversation here

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