In today’s digital age, all brands - manufacturers included - need strong strategies in place for the digital sale of their goods and services.
To respond to customers’ buying preferences and to changes in the business landscape that have forced more business online, manufacturers are being asked to reconsider how they go to market.
In the past, it was acceptable to add a digital channel for those customers ready to place orders online, all while continuing to support other customers’ desire to place orders in person, over the phone, over email, or via fax. B2B buyers tended to want to place orders offline more often than not. And most retailers and distributors preferred to place orders from manufacturers either through old technologies like EDI or through in-person field sales reps.
This year, COVID-19 made online sales more important than ever. For some businesses, it has become their “only-channel” strategy out of necessity.
Businesses that had invested in their digital experience over the past five years were able to pivot and change when needed during these extreme changes in the business and market landscape. They could add new e-commerce and digital order management experiences for buyers who had historically placed orders offline. They could extend their product catalogs to new channels, including prominent marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.
Whether you found that your business looks more like the Wayfairs of the world, or more like Sears, you’ve likely realized something about the importance of a versatile, flexible e-commerce platform.
MACH architecture enables complex manufacturers to adopt new go-to-market strategies without replatforming or adding additional platforms to their tech stack.
If they hadn’t understood it before, manufacturers have learned quickly the importance of a platform that could support all of their go-to-market strategies. You shouldn’t need a new e-сommerce platform every time you decide to go-to-market via a new digital channel.
MACH architecture that is microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless, is composable in nature, which gives businesses the flexibility and agility they need to develop and maintain multiple different channel strategies all from the same back-end.
Here are 4 go-to-market strategies Sitecore OrderCloud supports for manufacturers:
(1) Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) or B2C e-commerce experiences:
Create a D2C e-commerce experience that allows your buyers to place orders directly from you online.
(2) Order management experiences:
Empower distributor and retail partners to place orders online for products 24x7x365
(3) Multi-brand, multi-site B2B2C e-commerce experiences:
Deliver configurable e-commerce storefronts to retail and/or distributor channel partners
(4) Omnimarket Strategy:
Extend your product catalog and information to channel partners from prominent eMarketplaces like Amazon to industry-specific marketplaces and retail sites.
Manufacturing Case Studies
Case study: global cosmetics manufacturer ensures retail locations are strong sites for distribution
A branded global cosmetics manufacturer sells through over 4,000 branded salon locations worldwide. Stylists at these salons sell this manufacturers’ haircare and skincare products, and use them on clients who come in for services.
The manufacturer had stylists and salon staff calling a 35 person call center to complete orders for retail, backbar and tester products over the phone.
This led to various challenges for the manufacturer:
- Zero visibility into in store inventory
- An increasing number of costly errors made through the manual order entry process
- Missed sales, as retail locations were forced to place orders at specific times of day when the call center was open
- Lack of accurate contact information to aid in product education and raising awareness about new product releases or promotions
Solution: Create an order management experience for stylist retail partners.
By creating a robust order management experience on Sitecore® OrderCloud®, the manufacturer could better manage product information distribution to its retail partners.
The retail partners (stylists) get access to:
- An amazing online order management experience that gives them access to up-to-date product catalog and browse, search, order, and re-order products 24x7x365 on any device
- Timely information on product launches and promotions to aid in sales strategy
- New product launch and promotion collateral from print and marketing suppliers to boost retail sales in their sales
Because of the flexibility of the Sitecore OrderCloud platform, the manufacturer has been able to evolve the ordering experience for stylists over time. They’ve added new, external suppliers to the order management experience, creating a B2B marketplace that allows stylists to place orders for supplies all in one place.
As they contemplate new ways to go to market, they’re easily able to extend their product information and catalog to new channels as well.
Case study: Annin flagmakers enables independent specialty flag retailers to sell online
Annin Flagmakers, the largest US flag manufacturer, sells flags through a variety of channels:
- Major Retailers, like Walmart, Kroger and Safeway
- Major Online Retailers, like Amazon, Wayfair and Flag Store USA
- Industrial Supply, like Fastenal and Grainger
- Independent Specialty Flag Retailers
Their work with major retailers and industrial suppliers is focused around product information management and optimization - making sure their flags are visible at the right place, at the right time.
But with their independent specialty flag retailers, they had a different challenge. Within this segment, a wide range of digital maturities exists. Some have set-up their own digital storefronts and have a strong digital preference. Others wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Knowing their customer base, Annin understood the importance of making sure their flags were available for purchase online, no matter the channel.
Solution: deliver a multi-brand, multi-site B2B2C e-commerce experience controlled by Annin but configurable by their retail partners.
Annin partnered with Sitecore to extend e-commerce capabilities to many of their retail customers so they could make their flags available for sale online.
Independent retailers can opt into an Annin sponsored site, take advantage of basic CMS capabilities to make sure their store’s brand is well represented, and even control pricing and promotions appropriate to their customer base.
Annin maintains control of the product information and ensures their customers get a strong online purchasing experience, no matter where they are shopping for their flags.
As new retailers want (or need) to add an e-commerce storefront, Annin is able to quickly roll-out new branded ordering experiences. When COVID-19 hit and businesses were forced to think on their feet about new ways to engage with customers, adding new features like curbside pickup to their retailers’ experiences was a quick and riskless addition.
As Annin contemplates alternative ways to go-to-market in the future, Sitecore OrderCloud is ready to support those new channels, as well.
Sitecore OrderCloud delivers manufacturers flexibility, scalability, and extendability via MACH architecture
Sitecore is dedicated to eliminating the limitations of e-commerce. We power scalable, customized e-commerce (B2B, B2C, B2X), order management, and B2B marketplace solutions via our API-first, headless e-commerce platform - Sitecore OrderCloud.
With Sitecore OrderCloud, manufacturers get the flexibility, scalability, and extendability needed to extend digital and commerce capabilities across your supply chain to ensure long-term success.
Learn more about 3 ways manufacturers are revamping digital sales.