Eight Steps to Creating a Manufacturer E-commerce Strategy
E-commerce has transformed the buying journey for many B2B products. Sales that once required a conversation with a sales rep now involve just your buyer and your e-commerce platform. But those sales happen only when your e-commerce strategy aligns with your buyers’ needs.
Having a manufacturer e-commerce strategy means prioritizing the user experience in product discovery design and content. This allows buyers to locate the ideal product quickly and easily for their needs, even if they have only a vague idea what they need.
Let’s take an in-depth look into manufacturer e-commerce, so that you remain at the forefront of your field.
How to develop a successful e-commerce strategy
Step 1: Understand Your Customer’s Way of Searching for Your Products
To start formulating your strategy, identify your ideal client. You need a thorough understanding of your target market, including demographics, pain points, location, research, purchasing authority, and product and service preferences. Learning about the problems your prospective customers are trying to solve is also crucial. This knowledge allows you to create in-depth customer personas to better tailor your marketing efforts to your ideal audience.
Once you identify your ideal client, figure out how frequently and in what ways they use various search engines to find answers to their questions. Discover and document the specific terms they use in their queries to develop a comprehensive list of keywords. With these keywords, tailor your website, content, and advertisements to the needs of your target audience so your website shows up when your buyers conduct relevant keyword searches.
For example, some of your customers know what they want and search for it by function: “end plate.” Some customers are more specific, and search by brand plus function: “WAGO end plate.” Other customers prefer to get really granular. They search for: “WAGO 2000 series end plate 0.7 mm.” While still other customers know exactly what they need and simply search by SKU: “2000-2195.”
Then you must understand what your customers do once they land on a page of search results. Some will sort the results by price. Others will filter results by brand. While others will filter by supply voltage, memory capacity or mounting mode.
Paid search is another channel where knowing your audience pays off. Google Ads and similar platforms let you target groups of people with your ads by adding demographic and interest filters to your keyword targeting. Understanding your audience inside and out helps you become more strategic when using various advertising platforms, yielding greater results.
Discover how you can stand out from the crowd.
The hesitation to digitize is holding back many manufacturers’ potential for providing a great customer experience (CX) online. Whether your top goal is a shopping or a transaction site, the essence of a good customer experience requires content to be on point or you risk losing your customers to competition.
In this report, we dive into the components that determine the Online Customer Experience by analyzing over 110 of the largest manufacturers in the electrical and automation sector. You'll discover how many manufacturers fall into the "good to great" category, but also examples of what an exceptional customer experience looks like.
Step 2: Go Beyond Boilerplate Content
To stay competitive in an online environment, you must go well beyond boilerplate product descriptions. You must create product content that’s built for your website visitors. You must enhance it and optimize it so that your visitors find the best technical products, at the best price, to match their project requirements, ideally with no more than three clicks. This means you cannot afford to create product content that’s simply built around existing product series.
This means creating application-oriented navigation from search to sale, including filters, categories, intuitive search, suggested products accessories, comparison tables, plus clear pricing and inventory.
Make sure you have product content for every SKU in your local price list, with searchable and filterable attributes.
Step 3: Improve Organic SEO
Neglecting search engine optimization (SEO) for a website is a huge mistake for any company. SEO enhances an e-commerce website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). When you do SEO right, your product pages get more clicks from interested customers because they appear higher in search results.
Make sure you select your keywords using tried-and-true SEO strategies and tools, strategically positioning them across your website. Just remember that Google’s algorithm penalizes “keyword stuffing” and rewards content that naturally incorporates keywords while providing legitimate value to readers.
If you want customers to find you online, your online store needs to be optimized for search engines. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Ensure a smooth mobile experience by optimizing your site.
- Seek out relevant keywords and use them to drive traffic.
- Increase click-through rates by enhancing the headers and meta descriptions of landing pages.
- To avoid getting penalized by search engines for duplicate content, make sure the text in your product descriptions is original content.
- Help search engines comprehend your content better by using structured data.
Step 4: Optimize Your Listings
It takes more time to complete a B2B transaction than a B2C one since there are more people and money involved. For this reason, including all the details that decision-makers might need to see on your product page is crucial.
If you don’t provide as much detail as possible and anticipate probable queries, you run the danger of:
- Increasing the length of the sales cycle as questions are passed around by different people.
- Customers moving on to another vendor if they feel that your company doesn’t provide what they need.
Include as much information as possible about your products, including:
- stock info
- tax information
- shipping methods and costs
- optional extras
Providing the minimum quantity required to place an order is just as crucial. If there are discounts for larger orders, mention that information as well. This also helps with users finding your e-commerce site.
Step 5: Work with E-commerce Experts in Your Industry
The success of a B2B e-commerce platform hinges on the seamless integration of various software tools and sector-specific content. E-commerce solution experts have the experience to identify promising business opportunities and prepare for threats that are not immediately apparent.
Because of their clear vision and determination to succeed, e-commerce experts implement strategies that boost business transformation. They have the experience to cover every business area, find weaknesses, figure out where there are gaps in technology, and fill them using robust solutions.
E-commerce for manufacturers requires you to think like an engineer. That’s why you need the help of engineers to optimize your product content and user experience. At KYKLO, for example, we specialize at normalizing product categories and taxonomies across millions of SKUs so that technical buyers find the products they need without having to talk with a salesperson.
This includes providing filtering capabilities so that buyers can easily drill down into vast numbers of products to find exactly what they need. They start with a search for banner sensor, for example, then filter the results by sensor type, such as photoelectric sensor, followed by more precise specifications filtering, such as NPN output, beam type, and sensing distance. This kind of filtering functionality is not available with popular B2C shopping carts, or with many B2B e-commerce platforms.
Step 6: Promote Your E-commerce Site on Your Corporate Website or Social Media
If you want to succeed at social media marketing, you need to be consistent with your posts and share them at times that work for your target audience. However, don’t try to be everywhere on social media—or you’ll end up nowhere. Instead, put more energy into the channels where your customers are spending time.
Using data-driven tools, such as Google, you see which channels are most popular with your customers. Choose the social media sites where your target audience spends the most time and keep them updated on relevant company news and industry trends.
Share your site and product links but avoid spamming your audience with too many sales pitches. Over-promoting on social media reduces your credibility and the value of your posts.
Step 7: Measure Your Progress
Measuring performance provides valuable insight into not only the health of your business but also user behavior patterns that indicate the potential for expansion. However, prioritizing relevant metrics that serve as the foundation for sales and marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial.
Qualified leads, organic visibility, user satisfaction and engagement are the top three KPIs for B2B companies. These give you a unique window into the health of your lead capture campaigns and point you on the right path for making adjustments.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are the most qualified leads possible. They represent a buyer who is eager to make a purchase but has conditions, such as additional research or internal approval, that their company needs to meet before they make a final decision. The most valuable leads are SQLs, but they are not common in the context of B2B e-commerce. Plus, they take a long time to move through the sales cycle. Approximately 75 percent of B2B transactions to new buyers take about four months to close, and 50 percent take at least seven months.
Organic visibility is a KPI that provides information on how visible your website is. This is an important metric to keep an eye on because it gives you a better idea of how the company’s e-commerce strategy is performing. Paired with the company’s position in SERPs, organic visibility shows how likely it is that a new lead will visit your website.
User Satisfaction and Engagement
Lead generation in the B2B sector relies heavily on engagement. A high visitor count is only beneficial if it leads to a corresponding rise in quality leads. Make sure that your website is effectively communicating with its target demographic, leading interested customers along the sales funnel, and yielding a positive return on investment.
Step 8: Prevent Competition with Your Channel Partners
If your go-to-market strategy involves distributors and channel partners, ensure that you work with the right e-commerce partner. That partner will help you implement your own strategy, whether you want to sell direct, through your channel partners, or both. For example, you might want to sell spare parts direct but sell your other products through your channel partners. Your e-commerce partner must be able to work with you either way.
Try KYKLO’s eSOM today
Getting caught up in the surplus of e-commerce options can be overwhelming. Choosing an e-commerce platform tailored explicitly to B2B manufacturing makes a huge difference in your business’ efficiency, sales, and customer satisfaction.
For manufacturers looking for a comprehensive solution that integrates with their ERP, PIM, and CRM systems, KYKLO is the perfect solution.
E-commerce has transformed the buying journey for your customers. Because the buying journey has shifted, you must align your e-commerce strategy to match the goals and search intent and buying behavior of your customers. If not, you will lose competitive advantage, see your profits decline, and watch as your customers migrate to competitors who deliver the e-commerce experience they demand.
We’ve shared the steps on how to create a manufacturer e-commerce strategy. Next up, read B2B E-commerce for Manufacturers: 5 Mistakes to Avoid.