Manufacturers and distributors are answering customer demand for an omnichannel experience by implementing e-commerce order management systems. They’re finding that online reviews, price comparisons, product videos and feedback via social media to be valuable tools in growing a customer base and remaining competitive in today’s fast-paced, mobile world.
At the same time, they’re discovering that it’s challenging to adapt to these demands. According to a post on the NetSuite blog, companies fall into three tiers of maturity when it comes to e-commerce order management.
The lowest of these levels holds manufacturers that stick to an older model of selling that doesn’t include any sort of e-commerce option. They sell purely through resellers, but may have some informational material on their company website.
At the middle level of omnichannel maturity, manufacturers offer some limited products for purchase on their website, but still do the bulk of their business through private portals for their resellers and partners.
Finally, the most mature omnichannel sellers in manufacturing offer full e-commerce order management from their web store as well as in-store pickup and global shipping for their customers.
In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, manufacturers and distributors that operate within the less-mature tiers must find ways to move up through the hierarchy. The NetSuite blog post recommends rethinking reseller agreements and pricing structures to increase sales while still avoiding conflict with the partner channel.
“For example, a manufacturer can promise resellers certain categories of customers or types of sales. In addition, resellers can create bundled packages to generate extra profits. Or all resellers could get extra funds or bonuses from the manufacturer when overall sales rise,” the post notes.
To manage inventory and perfect e-commerce order management, manufacturers and distributors must also focus on streamlining their business applications. E-commerce order management, CRM, ERP and manufacturing applications need to communicate with one another seamlessly.
The post explains that seamless integration provides “better insight into how to optimize inventory and order management, forecast demand more accurately, reduce costs, and provide data to help reseller partners understand how changes are improving their own bottom lines.”
A true omnichannel solution requires distributors and manufacturers to rethink their processes. With an integrated front office, back office, e-commerce and inventory management application, organizations are going to have the flexibility and agility necessary to grow into this new space.
Source: NetSuite blog, January 2014