Benefits of the Cloud

Cloud*Get Started in the Summer – Studies show that summer tends to have slow sales months, particularly for B2B. If you’re looking to use this time to add an additional sales channel online or simply research the possibility, then these are the blogs for you! In this blog series, we explain the ins-and-outs of getting started with e-commerce, from the jargon used to implementation.

The manufacturing industry is moving on up. Up into the Cloud, specifically. More and more manufacturing companies rely on Cloud technologies to host their various solutions.

From Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to Inventory and Management and Asset Tracking (IMAT), more companies prefer to use web-based solutions that are housed on servers outside of their own premises. Some companies even utilize a “Manufacturing Cloud” where everything needed to get a plant up and running is stored in the Cloud. You just plug in, and you’re ready to produce.

But did you know you can sell from the Cloud?

If you want to hop on the train towards an expanded customer base and increased leads, then e-commerce is your ticket. But if you have no desire to store and run your own servers, you want to keep your head and your solution in the Clouds. Rather than paying a larger sum upfront, many manufacturers choose to purchase their e-commerce solution as a web-based subscription service.

With Software as a Service (SaaS), you’ll get the same Content Management System, online marketing center, integration, and all the options you expect without deploying the solution in your own backyard.

Pay As You Go

With SaaS, a month-to-month or annual payment may be easier for your budget. The ability to cancel your subscription puts the onus on the provider to keep providing quality. If you’re happy, they’re happy. Fortunately for Dynamicweb and our customers, we’re confident enough to offer these subscription services.

Save Money on IT

Let’s say you went for a typical software installation. You would need to purchase and house servers. You would need to provide IT service to your users, ensuring security, reliability, and scalability. Maintaining the software requires patching and upgrading with many hours of labor. Some IT departments even hire third-parties to take care of this for them.

On the other hand, with Software as a Service, you’re putting these responsibilities in the hands of the vendor and their partner. Your e-commerce provider is more familiar with their own solution, so let them maintain the software on the backend. Meanwhile, you save costs since you’re no longer required to physically house the servers.

Save Time on Deployment

Software as a Service – For when you want your solution and you want it now. If you’re itching to let your content creators, curators, and editors jump into that shiny new Content Management System, then consider that SaaS has a faster deployment time than setting up your own infrastructure.   With a subscription service, the software is already up and running on the provider’s servers, ready for you to use.

Stay Up To Date!

With a typical software license, you have to wait for the new full release to get these new additions. And of course, you must implement these on your own server. This takes time and effort, both to wait for new software versions as well as the process of implementation. With a SaaS solution, such as Dynamicweb, the software stays up to date with the latest version to offer the most recent security necessities and innovative features.

With Software as a Service, you benefit from these innovations as we update them in the solution. As soon as we go live, you do too. These upgrades keep your company flexible and up-to-date. So if you find yourself continually moving more and more applications into the Cloud, consider that your e-commerce solution can fly just as high.

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How ERP Integration Makes Diving Into e-Commerce Easier

ERP integration*Get Started in the Summer – Studies show that summer tends to have slow sales months, particularly for B2B. If you’re looking to use this time to add an additional sales channel online or simply research the possibility, then these are the blogs for you! In this blog series, we explain the ins-and-outs of getting started with e-commerce, from the jargon used to implementation.

For companies who haven’t yet dipped their toes into the online space, e-commerce represents an entirely new pool of customers. A new market is a great opportunity, but the fear of “diving in” is often paralyzing. So put on your floaties, and let’s see how integration makes it easier to use the systems you already have in place.

Putting your business online may seem complicated if you use a number of different sales channels (such as a brick-and-mortar store, call center, and online store) to reach your customers. The same is true if you use a lot of different suppliers. How do you make sure that uniform practices and prices exist throughout your enterprise? How do you ensure that your data is consistent?

First, you want an easy way to track data across all channels and suppliers. To make your enterprise e-commerce efficient, integrating your ERP (or Enterprise Resource Planning solution) with your webstore is the perfect place to start.

Integration – What It Is and Why It’s Helpful

Let’s say you create an e-commerce shop and set that store’s inventory to eight items. What happens when the store runs out of stock? Who is there to check the inventory for your customers? You wouldn’t want to send a potential customer away with no information, but you also wouldn’t want to sell an item for which you have no remaining stock.

Using modules and applications to track the data in your e-commerce solution, all your information is shared between your ERP and your webstore. This includes the inventory data that your customer needs to make a purchase. It’s best not to have your e-commerce solution alone on an island. It is not Gilligan or that guy from Castaway. You want to share data between systems.

If your e-commerce store is integrated with your ERP, you open up your options for dealing with a potential customer online. Your customer gains access to your current stock, delivery times for shipping, and other product data. This increases their self-service and eliminates the need for duplicate inventories. And best of all, it’s automated.

Benefits of Automation

Your company saves time and money when your systems are automated and integrated. Your employees have better tasks to do than manually transferring orders from your webstore to a separate accounting system. Instead, when your customer makes a purchase on your webshop, it’s simply more efficient to have that information automatically reflected in your ERP system.

In addition to manual entry being a waste of time, it increases the opportunity for human error. There’s no reason to juggle a traditional sales channel completely removed from your online store. A single automated and integrated inventory works for multiple sales channels.

Benefits for the Customer

E-commerce is all about the consumer, and ERP integration makes for a more pleasant shopping experience for your potential customer. With self-service options, shipping updates, order tracking, order history, and even specifically-tailored discounts to select customers, integration combines the power of your ERP with the online selling of your e-commerce solution.

ERP integration also empower your customers with product data by allowing them to filter their online searches as they look through your products. When a customer filters their online search by two traits (say, “size” and “color”), you reduce their frustration by ensuring your site returns an accurate stock supply.

These perks are no longer nice, little bonuses. Web customers are savvy, informed, impatient, and demanding. They expect these features, and if your webstore doesn’t offer them, it’s not difficult for your prospects to find another one that does, almost immediately.

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Getting Started On Your B2B Website: Use What You Have

use what you have*Get Started in the Summer – Studies show that summer tends to have slow sales months, particularly for B2B. If you’re looking to use this time to add an additional sales channel online or simply research the possibility, then these are the blogs for you! In this blog series, we explain the ins-and-outs of getting started with e-commerce, from the jargon used to implementation.

B2B eCommerce is no longer the future. It’s the present. B2B online sales represent a higher share of e-commerce than B2C. If you’re not competing online, you’re giving up ground to your competitors.

And it’s not just about the first sale, either. If you leave the online space up to your competitors, they’re building lifelong customer relationships while you watch on the sidelines. So how do you move your offline selling to your online B2B website?

Let’s take a look at some marketing tools you may already use in the physical space that you also want to use online. These pre-existing marketing tools add valuable content to your B2B website.

Press Kits Become Inbound Marketing

One common tool for B2B selling is the press kit. But are all your old marketing tools just gimmicks of a bygone era? No, they’re not! The good news is that much of what’s included in your press kit makes a strong foundation of your B2B website.

If your press kit includes interviews with CEO or quotes from people involved in your product development, these also make useful content to inform potential customers about your products and company. Your company info fits well into an “About Us” page. Just like selling in the offline world, the point is to use this information to tell a compelling story about who you are and what you do.

Many companies also put their press releases directly on their B2B websites. Consider the benefits of no longer begging news outlets to publish your press kits. They’re available in the form of content right there on your site! This inbound marketing lets you speak directly to the customer.

Tradeshows Become Audiovisual Content

Another stalwart of the B2B community is the tradeshow. But how do you bring that experience online? The first benefit of a tradeshow presentation is the personal aspect. You get to show your potential customers and partners, up close and personal, what you know. So if you’ve got a great presentation, why not put yourself on video and host that on your B2B website? Putting a name and face to your company builds trust.

In addition to hosted videos, your audience may want to see your presentations in the form of webinars, podcasts, or slideshows. There are numerous options for you to get across the same information you do in your physical tradeshows. And, of course, don’t neglect to put up many high resolution images of both products and people. We’re all visual creatures, and the same care you put into your tradeshows should be shown on your website.

Direct Mail Becomes Email Marketing

Another common B2B marketing tactic is direct mail. But with email campaigns you get to save the environment (and money) by saving paper while you go even further with intelligent marketing. If customers sign up for emails on your B2B website, they want you to use their information to email them. Send them the newsletters that they ask for. Tailor your emails to the specific interests that they list in their sign-up forms. Email marketing allows you to personalize your marketing like never before.

Email marketing isn’t just for leads either. Extend your email marketing to both lapsed and loyal customers as well. For lapsed customers who haven’t bought anything in a while, send them a reminder that you exist while promoting some of your new products that might draw them back. And for loyal customers, integrate your email marketing with your CRM to send them targeted emails based on past purchases for up-selling and cross-selling. And for all customers of all stripes, leads, lapsed, or loyal, why not send a discount or special offer now and then via email to keep things fresh?

Let’s Take This Online

You don’t have to start from scratch when you moving into eCommerce. Take the press kits, interviews, presentations, mailing campaigns, company bios, and everything you already have and organize them into categories of content. Then use this content to build a solid foundation for your B2B website and enter a whole new world of selling.

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How to Win Friends and Increase B2B Sales: eCommerce in Plain Language, Part II

B2B crossword*Get Started in the Summer – Studies show that summer tends to have slow sales months, particularly for B2B. If you’re looking to use this time to add an additional sales channel online or simply research the possibility, then these are the blogs for you! In this blog series, we explain the ins-and-outs of getting started with e-commerce, from the jargon used to implementation.

In our previous blog, we broke down the technical jargon to show how eCommerce helps companies increase B2B sales with tools such as guided selling and personalization. We also dispelled the myth that eCommerce is only for B2C. In fact, B2B sales in eCommerce are even bigger.

But some companies believe that online selling isn’t for them because their customers want customized products, a common request with B2B sales. These companies are mistaken. With the use of a configurator, even complex customizable products are available for online selling.

Configurator, Noun

Our goal with this series of blog posts is to explain eCommerce without the jargon. So what exactly is a configurator? A configurator is a tool that allows customers to build their own products online. The customer selects the size, material, mechanical parts, or other options to create the product that best fits their needs. What specifications the customer is allowed to set is up to you.  

It All Begins With Integration…

One of the keys to running an efficient eBusiness and increasing your B2B sales is integration. Integration means getting your eCommerce solution talking with your ERP. The systems share information between them, which allows real-time updating of product, pricing, and shipping info without the potential for errors from manual re-entry. This works because the eCommerce solution sees what’s in your inventory. A configurator works the same way.

When you have a variety of parts in your inventory, an integrated configurator has the ability to offer each of those individual parts for the customer to use to craft their own product. And because the customer chooses from everything you have, rather than just what’s on store shelves, you increase your chance to make those B2B sales.

What if Not All Parts Are Compatible?

With many customizable products made in B2B sales, it’s very common that not every part with fit with every other part because of size, power consumption, or other reasons. Fortunately, a powerful configurator has the ability to utilize constraints and dependencies.

Constraints and dependences are just what they sound like. Constraints refer to options for a configurator to restrict, or constrain, certain combinations of parts or parameters. Configurators set dependencies when certain parts and parameters must be used together. Constraints and dependencies ensure working combinations for your customers.

How Does the Customer Make the Purchase?

That’s up to you! You decide whether or not to allow a customer to purchase their customized product directly on the site or if you’d prefer that they submit a request for a quote. If your preference is for a quote, include a lead form on the webpage for your potential customer to fill out with their information. After receiving the quote request, have your sales team contact the lead via email or phone.

Customization is What Customers Want.

Configurators, customization, and B2B eCommerce give customers what they want: self-service. By putting customization at their fingertips, you allow customers to research and discover the products they want, how they want them built. Of course, your B2B sales and support teams are ready as ever, but customers like to be engaged with creating their desired product. B2B eCommerce, from guided selling to personalization to customization, gives customers an improved experience by making it easier for them to buy from you.

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How to Win Friends and Increase B2B Sales: eCommerce in Plain Language, Part I

Handshake*Get Started in the Summer – Studies show that summer tends to have slow sales months, particularly for B2B. If you’re looking to use this time to add an additional sales channel online or simply research the possibility, then these are the blogs for you! In this blog series, we explain the ins-and-outs of getting started with e-commerce, from the jargon used to implementation.

eCommerce. It’s not just for B2C anymore. Despite total B2B sales in eCommerce overtaking the size of the B2C market, some B2B executives and marketers are still reticent to dip their toe into the worldwide web. Many B2B marketers have put up a static, prosaic website, but they don’t reach their full potential online, neither with marketing nor with completing B2B sales.

The Trend of eCommerce

For some, “eCommerce” has been equivalent to ordering used books on Amazon, but it is much more than that. eCommerce comprises a variety of online sales transactions, including B2B. Many B2B companies are jumping in and seeing increases in B2B sales. If want to learn more or get started in online business, then this primer on eCommerce in plain language is meant for you.

No Jargon.

The late, great Roger Ebert won his Pulitzer Prize for speaking to people intelligently, but also in a language they understood. Ebert undoubtedly knew the technical aspects of film, such as cinematography or editing, but he chose to be more down-to-earth in his writing. Ebert was a fan of saying, “Jargon is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” So we will try our best not to use the jargon of eCommerce here. Because once you get past the jargon and tech talk of eCommerce, it’s actually easy to learn how to use it to increase B2B sales!

What Is Guided Selling?

Guided selling is a great tool to making B2B sales online. But what is it? In order to break down the barriers of eCommerce, let’s define guided selling. In the simplest terms, guided selling is a way for you to use your website to guide the customer towards a purchase. But here’s where it gets really fun. Rather than having your sales team individually contact each lead or website visitor, a dynamic eCommerce solution actually automates that first customer connection, identifying a customer’s specific interests and reaching out to them with unique content.

Part of guided selling is being able to identify your customers’ needs and pain points. The goal is to help them find the product that works best for them, so they make the purchase. For example, Dynamicweb eCommerce uses guided selling to track the behavior of your website visitor, such as what pages and products they click on. Then, behind-the-scenes, the software creates a “profile” of a user. This enables us to present that person with the most relevant content and products, which in turn increases their chance of becoming engaged or making a purchase.

A Personalized Experience.

The key takeaway is for you to present the customer with a personalized experience. By using behavioral analytics or instant access to their past purchase history and other specific information, you tailor the customer experience. Customers feel more welcome, and you have a better chance of raising conversion rates when you recommend products that solve the specific pain points of your customers.

B2B eCommerce Means Learning From B2C.

Guided selling is just one of a few B2C principles that B2B companies want to keep in mind when building up their eCommerce website. A key B2C principle is that the people behind the screen are, indeed, people. They respond emotionally and don’t want to be treated like machines. The same is true for B2B sales as well.

Your B2B buyers are the same people that are used to the conveniences and dynamic shopping experiences offered by popular B2C websites. Rich product catalogs with beautiful imagery and videos capture the imagination for B2B buyers just as they do for B2C. B2B buyers also expect smooth navigation, logical search options, and the ability to browse your site on mobile devices.

Are B2B Sales Different?

Guided selling, high-quality product catalogs, and smooth navigation are very appealing to customers and combine to offer an enjoyable web experience. But, you might say, B2B products are sometimes different. B2B buyers are often looking for customizable products. So is there a way to make those types of B2B sales with eCommerce?

Yes, there is. Stay tuned for Part II of this blog series How To Win Friends and Increase B2B Sales: eCommerce in Plain Language, where we explain what a configurator is and how it lets your online customers in on the customization. No jargon needed.

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