It’s no secret that more and more consumers prefer internet purchases over conventional shopping trips. The convenience of online vendors has made a significant dent in the marketplace, and the shift away from transactions in physical stores is appreciable. The impact of this trend is usually associated with giant indoor shopping malls that are seeing their traffic count dwindle, or the disappearance of big box stores that have been around for generations. However, all savvy merchants know by now that in order to stay competitive they have to build a strong online presence. Virtually no sector is immune from this transition, including industrial manufacturing products.
For the average consumer who does not ever plan to procure industrially manufactured goods, that may seem like an outrageous statement. Even though manufacturing is a relatively selective and specialized segment of the market, it still follows the same economic drivers that factor into sales and marketing as other commercial outfits do. Customers tend to exhibit the same behaviors across all manner of merchandise.
Ease and accessibility are the impetus behind the online shopping phenomenon. The amount of time and money saved by solving purchasing needs through digital channels is staggering. Fewer meetings with salespeople or reduced visits to physical manufacturing plants translate into increased productivity and measurable savings for businesses. Marketing budgets can be redirected into slick and informative websites, which may be more cost-effective over the long term as well.
The internet is a virtual goldmine of data. Customers now have a wealth of information at their fingertips, so the days of having to hand-hold consumers through major purchases are fading. There is a desire for more self-service options, which the online experience can facilitate. With the era of the educated consumer upon us, buyers actively seek out the chance to work with business partners who can provide high-tech buying opportunities. Once an organization has streamlined its suite of online marketing offerings, maintenance costs should be nominal compared to a fleet of salespeople. The potential to upscale equipment that improves the manufacturing process, or to pass savings along to the customer are both winning scenarios.
Many of the large manufacturing companies have jumped on the bandwagon, but it is still a relatively untapped outlet. The complexity of the industrial manufacturing sector and their products can be a challenge to encapsulate in a website, but organizations are making the effort to ensure their customers can clearly understand the nature of the business and the goods being sold. Some companies’ websites are so elaborate you can practically write a term paper citing their content as reference material. For instance, customers interested in electroless nickel plating can go online and research S+S Industries. Not only will they find out whether the company offers that service, but they can get a detailed description of what is entailed in the process.
Successful companies have learned to change with the times in order to survive. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum perhaps articulate it best, “In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”