How Industrial Supplies Companies Can Use eCommerce to Increase Sales
Industrial supply companies have been slow to adopt eCommerce as a valid sales channel. That’s a pity because they are leaving money on the table. Supply giant Grainger sees 80% of their sales from their online channel. With the right industrial eCommerce platform, you can increase sales too. Here’s how industrial supplies companies can increase sales.
Establish Your Online Presence
Just because you sell B2B doesn’t mean your buyers aren’t shopping on the internet. Professional purchasing agents use the internet to research products, compare prices, evaluate features, and request quotes. There’s more to the internet than funny cat videos.
According to Google, 89% of all B2B purchases start with an internet search. These searches are increasingly made by a younger and younger demographic charged with buying decision authority.
In just two years, the percentage of millennials doing product research rose from 27% to 46%.
These researchers perform an average of 12 searches before they contact a supplier. Digital is where it is at and you must have an online presence. It’s how new customers are going to find you. Would you believe 40% of people say they’ve used voice search in the office? Voice searches aren’t going to find you if you aren’t on the internet.
Deploying a website using an eCommerce website captures more audience share and that converts to more sales.
Digitize Your Product Offerings to Increase Sales
Industrial supply companies frequently operate with thousands upon thousands of SKUs. Often these products are customizable and keeping the right products in front of the right customer is a challenge.
With eCommerce designed for B2B sales, you can create custom catalogs for every customer you have. Each time a customer logs in, their catalog is created dynamically, and they can even customize products to their needs, all online, all without contacting a sales rep.
And keeping up with customer pricing is easy. You can enable dynamic pricing, create pricing by the customer, or even use pricing algorithms to home in on the perfect balance of profit and volume.
And there’s no need to create multiple websites for large and small volume buyers.
SaltWorks is one of the largest suppliers of premium salt in the US. Their salts are used in everything from industrial food processing and packing to individual gift saltshakers and bath salts. When an industrial buyer needs a 2200 lab of Epsom salt delivered on a pallet, they log into their account and place an order.
When a retail customer wants to buy bath salts, they just click on the item and pay the retail price for a smaller package.
Without eCommerce, SaltWorks wouldn’t make either of those sales.
Improve Customer Experience
These days all buyers are concerned with customer experience. In 2020, customer experience became the key differentiator. It’s now more important than price. Buyers are even willing to pay more for an improved customer experience.
With eCommerce, industrial supply companies improve the customer experience. Not only do customers appreciate the ease of ordering online, they like custom catalogs and price lists. This makes their job easier.
Also, you increase sales when you make the resale process easier. Since many industrial supply products are ordered at regular intervals, eCommerce enables fast reordering.
Configure your website to enable reordering from the prior order history. With just a click or two a customer can add a previously purchased product to the online cart and checkout.
Onsite search is another feature of eCommerce that improves the customer experience. Let visitors search by product name, category, or even product use. Don’t limit the ability of a customer to find your products because they don’t know the SKU or UPC.
Gala is a leader in glass containers for industrial use in Australia. Their product line seems almost infinitely customizable with each container featuring multiple closures. By enabling robust product search, their conversion rate went up 50%. Buyers use the search to enable the self-serve customer experience they want. And Gala enjoys increased sales.
Digitize the RFQ and QTC Process
Remember all those online searches? At some point, your product or brand is going to make the shortlist. When potential customers are ready to open negotiations, allow them to do it online.
McKinsey research shows that today’s buyers want to fill out an online form and get an almost instantaneous response.
By placing your RFQ form online, you are giving buyers what they want. Whether you are simply collecting the information so the sales team can manually price the contract or whether you employ pricing algorithms to automatically price the contract, the buyer can start the process with just a few clicks.
And with an eCommerce and CRM integrated solution for industrial supplies companies, there’s no fear that a quote falls through the cracks.
Once the quote is accepted, enable a digital QTC process. Remember buyers want an exceptional customer experience and every barrier to that experience creates dissatisfaction. Integrate eCommerce with your ERP and digitize the QTC process even further with seamless billing and payment.
And if your buyers have a complex internal purchasing process, you can help them keep purchases on track with user-defined permissions and controls. As a quote moves through its internal processes, all parties stay in the loop.
Enhance Marketing Efforts
Aside from reaching new markets, eCommerce helps industrial supplies companies make the most of the customers you already have.
By segmenting customers, you can personalize offers. Show them the products in which they are interested and control the visibility of products that don’t apply to their industry.
You can create custom cross-sell and up-sell offers and promotions.
Because you are capturing more data, you have better insights into purchasing patterns.
eCommerce integrates with CRM, email programs, and analytics tracking tools, so you always have the best data to evaluate your marketing efforts.
By breaking down data silos with an eCommerce platform, marketing, sales, and merchandising all work from one source of truth.
Industrial Supply Need eCommerce
With face-to-face sales meetings held in abeyance, industrial supply companies need eCommerce to stay relevant in a global pandemic. And even when COVID-19 is long gone, people will still rely on eCommerce to make their business purchases.
If you want to be relevant, you need eCommerce.