New opportunities for business growth brought about by the digital evolution, coupled with changes in consumer purchasing behaviour, have created a whole new ballgame for manufacturing today.
To maximise long-term growth and profitability, forward thinking manufacturers are realising the need to expand their reach. Omnichannel commerce is a way to achieve these goals by operating more intelligently, efficiently and collaboratively to meet growing expectations of tech-savvy customers.
While the benefits are clear, however, not every manufacturer is keeping up and the level of development between different industries varies greatly.
At the lowest level, manufacturers stick to the traditional model of selling through resellers. They might provide product information on their websites, but don’t support online commerce.
Manufacturers at the mid-level might offer consumers a limited online experience, but are more likely to offer restricted portals for reseller partners or large volume business customers to place orders. They’re also more likely to provide basic online services such as product information, reseller locators and customer tech support forums.
At the highest level of maturity, manufacturers have full ecommerce capabilities for both B2B and B2C customers, though they may funnel orders through to local retailers or distributors for fulfilment. They’re more likely to offer popular customer amenities such as free in-store pickup and global shipping for a small fee, as well as a full range of support services, from online documentation and user communities to live Web chat.
A manufacturer at the lowest level can plan for a more sophisticated approach by researching customer feedback and buying habits, while reviewing reseller agreements and incentive plans to identify the best opportunities for maximising sales. This requires a measured approach as no manufacturer wants to lose loyal resellers by undercutting prices. A thoughtfully structured pricing agreement can avoid conflict and benefit both manufacturers and resellers.
To successfully achieve omnichannel commerce, manufacturers must focus on application integration to ensure transactions and data flow seamlessly between ecommerce, CRM, ERP and manufacturing applications. This will provide clear insight into how to optimise inventory and order management, forecast demand more accurately, reduce costs and provide data to help reseller partners understand how changes are improving their revenue.
What we are seeing now is that thriving and successful manufacturers have embraced change and understand the generational shifts in process and technology needed to remain relevant, competitive and grow profitably.
A successful omnichannel strategy can deliver substantial and tangible results, but can take years to develop in some cases and require a solid investment.
This is where cloud computing opens doors, offering the opportunity for a lower cost and much lower risk rollout of the software needed to support an omnichannel strategy. Manufacturers can now unify separate channels to provide a single view of their customers, sales activities and revenue.
The omnichannel commerce model is designed to increase sales by offering a seamless and convenient customer experience through any channel, at all times. By integrating processes across all channels and working with resellers to create equitable policies, every party in the value chain can increase sales and profits.
Mark Troselj is vice president and general manager for Australia and New Zealand at NetSuite. For more information, contact NetSuite Australia on +61 2 9464 6100 or visit www.netsuite.com.au.