ECommerce Solutions For Manufacturers
Manufacturing companies are often hesitant to start selling online because of the fear that it may damage their relationship with their distributors. Over the last 10 years we've had the privilege of working with a wide variety of manufacturers helping them not only develop a go to market strategy for selling on line but also implementing the technology to make their strategy a reality. Although every manufacture is slightly different with different business logic, ideas and distribution models, we would suggest you can boil down your basic options for online sales into 4 basic directions or broad strategies:
- You sell to anyone that comes to the site - To offset the push back from your distributors, many companies that choose this strategy set up a fairly large minimum order amount or minimum quantities (Perhaps only full case orders) on each product. Some manufacturers have also chosen to put their prices above list price so that their distributors actually have better online and/or retail pricing than they offer. We’ll also see manufacturers link to their distributors as additional places to buy. A call-to-action next to the ‘buy now’ button may read "Need a smaller quantity?” or “Find a local distributor." This could then link to a page listing your distributors or link directly to the distributors website.
- Take orders for distributors right on your website - Your shopping cart site could be customized to talk to your distributor's ERP or inventory systems and list inventory and pricing right on your website. In the below example, the manufacturer only sells by the case, but the distributor sells individual items:
- You build a store for the distributors - In this scenario, your site acts as a master catalog where you maintain the products, pricing, etc. When you update a product, it is automatically updated on your distributor's website, allowing end users to order instantly. We call this solution a Multi-Store Solution. Multi-Store Solutions basically allow you to handle all inventory management, order fulfillment, etc. in one location while the changes simultaneously translate to each distributor's “Child Store.” A distributor "Child Store" is a store with different branding, content pages, etc., but the product catalog updates are implemented from the manufacture’s website or “Parent Store.” When a product is updated by the manufacturer or added at the parent level it can be pushed to the child level. When orders are placed, they can go to the parent store for fulfillment or the parent store can send the order to the distributor for fulfillment. Some manufactures also choose to completely turn off ordering functionality on the “Child Store” and simply make it a catalog. The real power in this solution is that your distributor doesn't have to maintain your product catalog on their website. See this ‘catalog-only’ child/parent relationship example:
Master Catalog (Manufacturer): https://www.bciburke.com/our-products/category/playground-equipment
Child Distributor Catalog (Distributor): http://www.innovplay.com/products/playground-equipment#/catalog
- Customers must log in to order- We've built several manufacturing sites that look like a product catalog until you log in. You can set up key customers or distributors with login credentials, so they can see pricing and place orders. You can also set up multiple tiers of pricing and put customers in roles tailored to their specific pricing.
If you’re looking to start selling your products online and don't know where to start, we have a lot of experience in helping with the set-up process. We work with distributors and manufacturing companies to help promote and sell your eCommerce products. We can even connect your online store to your ERP system. Don't leave your online sales and marketing solely in the hands of your distribution channel. Let's start a conversation about growing your manufacturing business by selling online and keeping your distributors happy.