Bringing Ecommerce to your Manufacturing Business

BY LTA | April 19, 2018

Ecommerce-01

Ecommerce is now the norm
In today’s world, Ecommerce capability is now assumed for any company in any industry or vertical. Simply put, Electronic Commerce(Ecommerce) is a transaction of buying or selling online. Ecommerce involves multiples streams of business and technologies, and can includes things like EFT, EDI, CRM and web interface, mobility, portals, shopping carts and everything else that most consumers now take for granted. While traditionally built for B2C, Ecommerce is now prevalent and expected in B2B, and has also opened the market for C2C businesses (think eBay or P2P lending). Essentially, if you haven’t incorporated Ecommerce into your business by now, you are behind.
Waiting is no longer an option
Ecommerce has been around for a while, but waiting is no longer an option. Having integrated Ecommerce is no longer a competitive advantage, it is an expected service. Today everyone is connected to the internet constantly throughout their day, they wake up and check their phones, drive to work with GPS, sit at their computer during the day before going home at night (to probably check their email, latest news and possibly watch a show on a smart tv). If your business doesn’t have an online atmosphere, that offers potential clients your products or services directly online, you are losing business.

Many Companies have been reluctant thus far
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of adding Ecommerce to your business. What was once difficult, is not so much anymore. Systems are smarter, and the integration of Ecommerce platforms have become more user friendly both for the implementor and the end user. There is no better time than the present to bring Ecommerce to your business. Take a look at our 4 key tips to get started today!

4 Key Tips to bring Ecommerce to your business
1. Take a Holistic Approach
When you begin to integrate Ecommerce, remember that it touches nearly every department of your business. Make sure to follow a comprehensive plan and make sure to ask for help if you are unsure about something. For starters, consider the following 14 Ecommerce Success Factors:

  • Technology and Cyber Security - Determine ideal Ecommerce platform options & cyber security
  • Partner – Identify implementation partners best suited to complete the project on scope, on time and on budget
  • Integrations – Determine the appropriate level of integration with ERP and other technologies
  • Master Data – Identify the source and system of record for all master data (customers, products, orders, etc...)
  • Digital Marketing – Confirm the digital marketing tools and processes that will be used to drive visitors and conversions in the Ecommerce solution
  • Content Creation and Management – Determine types of content to be created. Who will create it and where it will be created and maintained.
  • Product Catalog and Merchandising – Identify products to be sold online and how they will be priced - determine ongoing processes for onsite product merchandising to drive conversion
  • Payments/Fraud – Identify valid pay methods (credit cards, PayPal, etc..). Select a payment gateway – define fraud prevention tools and processes
  • Customer Service – Determine appropriate customer service channels (phone, email, chat) with enhanced organization to provide superior service
  • Fulfillment – Identify proper fulfillment approach (3rd party or internal). If internal, determine whether to use fulfillment processes in the ERP or to implement a separate shipping solution
  • Taxes – Determine where your company has nexus and find a tax solution if needed – confirm how taxes from multiple sales channels will be consolidated and filed
  • Reporting and Analytics – Identify KPI’s and dashboards to monitor program success - adjust to optimize
  • Partner Sensitivity – Consideration for channel partner sensitivity - level of sensitivity may dictate certain aspects of the project (pricing, marketing, etc.)
  • Organizational Structure – Identify internal resources and skills required to support and improve the Ecommerce business
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2. Err on the Side of Simplicity
If your company has ever done an ERP integration don’t worry, Ecommerce is not as complicated. The integrations are easier, and it’s not a complex waterfall project. The best thing to do is to go ahead and just get started. Ecommerce is continuous; it is something that will continued to be adjusted and optimized on an ongoing basis. Once you feel comfortable getting started, you can start to integrate more with your ERP or other business systems.

3. Implementation Partner is Key
The software solutions now available offer fairly similar functionality and requirements for Ecommerce and tend to be similar for most manufacturers. Because of this, your implementation partner is even more valuable and important to a successful integration than the system manufacturer. When selecting an implementation partner, consider the type of partner that your firm needs. There are technical based partners who focus on systems integration and programming, there are digital agency partners that will focus more on design, SEO and customer experience, and there are business-based partners that focus more on consulting, project management and strategic direction. There is no shortage of implementation partners but finding the right fit for your environment is a key to success.

4. Understand Internal Process and Organizational Impacts
Before making any decisions around Ecommerce you want to have clear understanding of the organizational and process changes that will be required. Make sure to map out the necessary skills ahead of time, who currently holds them and where there may be gaps. You will also have to plan and complete process re-engineering to accommodate the use of new technology, and you may want to consider hiring a consulting firm for support. The better you can prepare for these new roles and changes the smoother the whole process will be.

Get Going!
There is no time like the present to start integrating or updating your Ecommerce solution. Make sure to take the big picture into account and that this Ecommerce is going to touch on all aspects of your business. Don’t overthink it, and, as coined by Nike, “Just Do It”!

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