Customers are researching and buying in entirely new ways, using in-person, web and the social channels. The combination of these channels with the offline (old way of doing things) has created an opportunity for manufacturers to really change the information businesses’ have in their hands and the kinds of decisions they can make.
In short, the affordable website technology exists today to assist companies otherwise working in silos to work hand in hand to meet objectives; whether that is to increase revenue or decrease costs. In addition, IT can play a major role in this change.
This brings to the question of what should be the online strategy for any manufacturer selling business-to-business (retailers or distributors). Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. If there were, everyone would use it. One thing is for sure that companies must adapt to their customer buying patterns and take new approaches when it comes to sales and distribution.
Before you develop your B2B website
First, ownership of the website starts at the highest levels not by one group in the company. Obviously, the website should work and deliver on its promise technically speaking and thus IT or an outsourced web agency has a major role to play.
Second, the different groups within the company collaborate and put in place a new approach to sales and distribution channels such that
- The focus is entirely on the web.
- The channels are segmented
- The emphasis is to match the customer buying patterns
- The decisions made to rely on usage statistics
An example of a traditional and merged sales and distribution channel models.
Challenges facing B2B websites
Although unique to every manufacturer, the website must support its end users, vendors, investors and the channel. This requires a coordinated effort between the major company functions such as sales & operations, marketing and support. This leads to manufacturing companies facing on a daily basis challenges such as:
- Doing more with less
- Marketing to a longer sales cycle
- Creating perceived value in product benefits
- Generating the right volume of quality leads
- Marketing to a larger number in the buying process
- Generating buzz
- Competing across multiple channels and media