Finding the right eCommerce strategies for manufacturers

Manufacturers’ Monthly speaks to Danielle Dadello, country manager for Unleashed Software, about the importance of adopting a good multichannel strategy for manufacturers to achieve a better bottom line.

In today’s competitive market, it’s imperative that businesses are establishing a strong competitive edge to improve performance, profitability, and production. According to Danielle Dadello, country manager for Unleashed Software, the adoption of multichannel business-to- business (B2B) practices will enhance these qualities.

Traditionally, multichannel B2B business buyers could purchase stock at a physical store, place orders over the phone, or send their supplier an email. However, with the rise of the internet, B2B consumers have become more comfortable placing orders online.

For sellers, using an online channel creates bigger opportunities as it opens up their products to more customers, reduces operating costs, and provides customers with product information.

“The results that we’ve seen from manufacturers adopting B2B practices are more profitable companies. From our own internal research at Unleashed, we have found that those with an online strategy are 9 per cent more likely to have buyers from overseas, and have on average 119 per cent more customers than those without”, Dadello said.

“Having an inventory management system is essential for a multichannel online strategy. It gives real-time stock on hand and information about your products.”

To help companies advance their B2B systems, Unleashed Software has created their own B2B portal which offers an online catalogue of products.

“At the heart of the business, Unleashed tracks your inventory, purchasing, manufacturing and sales. What makes it really special is that we’re able to track the cost of products and can tell customers, in real-time, what stock is available for their sales,” Dadello said.

“The portal is by invite only, targeted to B2B, not business to customer (B2C). Customers can log into the portal and have access to products tailored for them.”

With the Unleashed B2B eCommerce platform, companies can have access to real-time stock on hand with every sale that comes through, and customers will have a personalised shopping experience.

“Our platform can customise a buyer’s shopping experience, catalogues, pricing, and product selection, which can be tailored for their purchases and organised according to their needs,” Dadello said.

There are few inventory management systems on the market at the moment that offer B2B commerce as an add on.

“If you’re using a very light inventory management platform, you’re unlikely to handle your manufacturing in the platform and it won’t include the B2B eCommerce option on it. So, it’s uncommon (for a platform) to have strong manufacturing handling capability as well as a B2B eCommerce platform option too. In this space, Unleashed is leading the way with the B2B option in such platforms,” Dadello said.

She added that it has been over a year since the release of this product and it has had very good feedback from users and the market.

The eCommerce supply chain can be easily integrated. As a result, businesses can have a seamless approach to managing their inventory, monitoring stock levels, and placing orders before products run out. They can also integrate accounting software to track finances.

“Companies that are incorporating an online strategy will provide customers with a better buying experience, less order processing errors, and have more time to focus on other factors of their business,” said Dadello.

“Overall, businesses will make less mistakes, less double handling, and it will provide greater results for companies as they will have more satisfied customers.”

Dadello adds that companies without a proper inventory management system set in place can suffer major consequences.

“If you’ve implemented a website and a standalone B2B feature, you may need to reserve stock for the website versus the B2B, where you’ll be faced with having separate stock on hand that could lead to missing sales,” Dadello said.

“Or, the reverse could happen. If there’s no synchronisation of stock on hand and businesses are selling off one system but not the other, it could lead to stockouts. To replenish stock, you can potentially be looking at a massive lead time. Or, even worse, you cannot get the product from your supplier at all, ultimately leading to a dissatisfied customer.”

According to Dadello, manufacturers will benefit from a B2B platform strategy as it removes geographical boundaries, allowing businesses to tap into new markets and reach a wider audience.

“B2B strategies open customers up to a better buying experience, as it doesn’t limit them to a phone call during business hours to make an order. Customers can go online anywhere at any time and see the product, explore the site, see what’s on offer, and order at any time.”

Dadello added that Unleashed is now seeing more manufacturers incorporating an online strategy to support the usual traditional sales approaches.

With the B2B market not looking like it’s slowing down anytime soon, Dadello adds that the results of implementing the online platform speak for themselves.

“The results of a multichannel business are a better buying experience that include fewer errors, lower administration costs, and less keying in of phone orders. So, with less inaccuracies, companies are automatically improving overall business performance and consumer satisfaction,” Dadello said.

She added that according to their research, manufacturers who have adopted at least one online channel are 14.8 per cent more profitable.