In a pandemic-ridden 2020, B2B ecommerce sales for manufacturers grew year over year by 6.7% to about $458.7 billion from $430.0 billion in 2019, based on our estimates.

What was once physical and manual—in-person sales calls, manual order processing, swinging by a distribution branch for an order pick-up—is now entirely more digital. And this trend is not a temporary one.

The Key Findings from the 2021 B2B Manufacturing Report analyzes how the pandemic permanently accelerated the pace of B2B ecommerce and which manufacturers are leading the pack—including case studies on Proctor & Gamble and PPG with 6 data-packed charts.

Our CEO Andrew Walker explains in this report how to stake your claim in ecommerce to stay relevant and competitive.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

We know manufacturers well at Shift7. We were raised by them, we admire them, and now, we work with them. Spending so much time with manufacturers we’ve learned one major element. They like to see the finished project.

However, getting the digital experience built isn’t the end. It’s the start.

Digital transformation is an ongoing process. Here at Shift7, we’ve constructed 7 ways you can turn your current marketing into exciting, relevant, and revenue-building growth marketing.

Download our guide and get access to some of the professional knowledge we’ve gained for manufacturers, like yourself.

 

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Manufacturers evaluating online growth strategies are weighing their options to drive revenue. Some focus on online distribution footprint, some extend their primary business model with a direct-to-consumer offshoot, and some launch and grow their own B2B ecommerce offerings to directly serve customers and dealers/distributors with an all-in-one online experience.

Whether it be for selling parts or finished goods, or for serving strategic accounts, or long-tail small customers, business models for growing B2B commerce abound, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

Learn how the Melissa & Doug company not only made their transition, but grew their AOV 3x by doing it.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Behavior has changed dramatically over the last year and buyers have trained themselves to be much more self-sufficient, now preferring to interact on digital portals. Whatever your channel strategy, you cannot risk ignoring your own site experience as an important competitive component and potential lever for growth.

Join our exclusive session where we will discuss what defines best-in-class buying experiences and where and how AI can be used. We’ll explore how to overcome some of the challenges inherent in B2B ecommerce – from simple findability of products with extensive attributes to arming customers with the right product knowledge, to automating intelligent cross-sell & upsell recommendations.

Register Now

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Manufacturers evaluating online growth strategies are weighing their options to drive revenue. Some focus on online distribution footprint, some extend their primary business model with a direct-to-consumer offshoot, and some launch and grow their own B2B ecommerce offerings to directly serve customers and dealers/distributors with an all-in-one online experience.

Whether it be for selling parts or finished goods, or for serving strategic accounts, or long-tail small customers, business models for growing B2B commerce abound, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

Watch as Lincoln Electric, Melissa and Doug, LLC, and Shift7 Digital discuss the many routes to accelerating online revenue and how their organizations have started their B2B commerce transformations.

WATCH NOW

 

Recorded Live with Manufacturer’s Alliance, Jun 22, 2021

Speakers:

Greg Doria, Senior Vice President of Harris Products, Lincoln Electric (formerly Vice President of Marketing)
Dave Henderson, Chief Commercial Officer at Melissa and Doug, LLC
Randy Higgins, Chief Strategy Officer at Shift7 Digital
Brad Borman, Managing Director at Shift7 Digital

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

About

The future looks bright for growth in the global construction industry, and manufacturers and distributors serving the sector with modern, digital B2B customer experiences are well positioned to reap the rewards.

Join leaders from USG and Shift7 Digital as they discuss customer personas in the building products sector, how USG has approached serving them through unique digital self-service experiences, and discover what these leaders see as next for the industry.

WATCH NOW

 

 

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Although marketers have focused much of their energy over recent years on promoting brands’ digital experiences beyond the corporate website, they shouldn’t put website investment on the back burner. The COVID-19 pandemic made that very apparent. CMSWire reports that in 2020 most companies invested in digital marketing to ensure their websites deliver experiences customers crave.

Our CEO Andrew Walker shared his thoughts with CMSwire why a website is a both a company’s backbone and digital face.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

The COVID pandemic transformed all industries including manufacturing. Old ways of doing business went by the wayside. “Down the road” plans for digital marketing became the central focus as manufacturers modernized their businesses on the fly. Companies realize that seamlessly connecting with current and prospective customers, resellers, and retailers through an integrated brand experience is now essential to survival.

Halfway through 2020, Shift7 surveyed hundreds of manufacturing business decision makers to learn how they were enduring the chaos.

The results were not what we anticipated. Our CEO Andrew Walker shared his thoughts with Entrepreneur Media. 

 

 

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

In the past, the roadblock to digital marketing transformation was “Why should we go digital?” Manufacturers felt little urgency to change a go to market strategy that was working just fine.

But in a flash, the pandemic made it clear how important (and lucrative) it can be to have healthy ecommerce channels producing online revenue streams.

If we could put a word to what we’ve seen with our manufacturing customers, it would have to be “acceleration.” We’ve seen unprecedented initiation of digital transformation in the manufacturing industry, with companies making smart investments in digital technologies, customer experiences, ecommerce, and digital marketing. It’s been long awaited, and wonderful to see.

In all likelihood, most functions of your business had some degree of digital focus even before the pandemic. But the fact remains, accelerating to things like online sales or the digitization of your go-to-market model can be daunting prospects — overwhelming enough to be abandoned before they even begin.

“Why should we pursue a digital transformation?” was answered by COVID-19. “How should we pursue a digital transformation?” is the new question. Let’s get into it.

GO-TO-MARKET MODEL IN THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

In the past 12 months, we all got punched in the face and had to think fast to stay on our feet. Manufacturing companies allocated marketing dollars to new digital initiatives (often diverting trade show budgets to get it done), assuming it would be a Band-Aid until things went back to “normal.” But now the dust has settled, and it’s clear the manufacturing industry is trending toward digital as the preferred customer experience.

So, in case it wasn’t already clear, your digital marketing efforts need to be ongoing. It can’t be a one-time-project. That said, it’s often more difficult to make a budget shift in large, complex, public companies. To address that, you can explore a funding model (a digital initiatives fund, if you will) tied to a goal of online revenue growth that allows you to move funds around with agility. Regardless, organizations need to think of digital investments as an ongoing line item in the income statement.

Now let’s discuss how those digital funds should be spent.

Three Choices

Every manufacturer evaluating online growth strategies weighs one or more of the following:

Growing ecommerce through existing or new distribution channels

Think: Amazon, Zoro, Grainger… even Wayfair, Target.com, Lowes.com. At Shift7 Digital, we have clients experiencing tremendous growth through distribution channels like these – more than doubling year-over-year revenue when traditional distribution channels are relatively flat. To do this right, it starts with a channel prioritization that’s made possible by an in-depth assessment. You’ll learn the fit and capability all potential distributor partners have, and you’ll assess the growth potential and prioritize your partners based on that. And once you’re running, there are more tools than ever before to manage the brand experience and gain valuable insights even after customers leave your own site.

Growing ecommerce through the launch/growth of B2B commerce or a wholesaler portal

Building B2B portals is a big driver right now because of the efficiency and the ability to capture first-party data through these direct interactions. Some of our clients use this model to sell directly to their large strategic accounts, augmenting the sales team relationship. Others start by strategically growing a large segment of low-revenue customers that are efficiently served through a pure online relationship. Either way, there is much more control over customer experience with the direct model. With distribution, you can enrich the experience and make your product content effective, but you don’t own the customer experience there. In this model, you do.

Growing ecommerce through the launch/growth of direct-to-consumer

Some B2B manufacturers are breaking new ground with B2C business models, a no-brainer if the goal is to gather insights about your end-user customers as you simultaneously grow revenue. Direct-to-consumer helps promote after-market products, parts, and accessories as well. As the world continues to evolve, we believe this will become a must-have channel for manufacturers.

If you take one thing away after you leave this page, let it be the knowledge that your customers’ digital experience is paramount, and regardless of channel, you have a responsibility to shape it for growth. For all its complexities, B2B manufacturing business is still conducted by humans, after all. And every one of us prefers to shop digitally.

As businesses, it’s on us to always meet our customers where they are.

 

 

 

This article first appeared in Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity & Innovation 

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

As the one-year mark of COVID-19 becomes a reality, many businesses are shifting focus to what doing business will look like in a post-pandemic world. Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, is sharing insights on how manufacturers can put their best foot forward and keep the momentum in digital they’ve built over the past year. The must-have nature of digital marketing, specifically a strong ecommerce presence, became impossible to ignore virtually overnight this time last year and Shift7 has helped several high-profile manufacturers transform and accelerate their digital presence; the agency is reporting 110 percent growth in their ecommerce services year-over-year.

“Manufacturers have undergone aggressive digital transformation over the past year, making smart investments in their customer experiences, ecommerce, and digital marketing and it has paid dividends,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “Even those who only had a baseline knowledge of digital have upped their games significantly, but the key is going to be continuing to move forward. Innovation isn’t going to stop and the way they connect with customers is going to continue to evolve. Getting up to speed out of necessity last year isn’t going to be enough for long and we’re the critical partner these manufacturers need to continue to evolve in the digital space.”

Though it’s starting to feel like a post-pandemic world may no longer be that far away, with it will come a post-pandemic way of doing business. Digital isn’t going anywhere; as we’ve seen over the past year, the manufacturing industry is moving toward digital not being just an option for a customer’s experience, but the preferred customer experience. Here are three ways for brands to lean in on digital and carry the momentum into a post-pandemic landscape:

Spend Smarter, Not More

Last year, over two-thirds of manufacturers have moved marketing dollars from traditional to digital channels, but the world of digital marketing is vast and wide. Set your priorities and spend your funds wisely. Make sure you have the right internal and external (agencies, vendors, etc.) support to the vision, automate what you can, and get your high-touch content in order. Expect that you’ll have to make significant investments in this area to see an impact, but know that the time of these things being “nice to haves” is well in the rearview mirror.

Target and Prioritize

If expanding your ecommerce presence is part of the plan (and, yes, it should be), where you’re selling is just as important as what you’re selling. Prioritizing which channels you’re going to spend the most time and money on is absolutely essential. For some, this means taking the time to build out a stellar presence on their own website, for others it may mean investing more in external distribution channels or online marketplaces. Whatever the path forward is, know your priorities.

Never Stop Measuring

Once you’re clear on what you should be spending your budget on, and where you’re selling your products, be sure to implement measurement tools that will allow you to analyze the effect of all of your new initiatives. If you’re going to invest any amount of time or money, you should know how they’re performing for you. It’s essential that you’re able to see, with relative ease, the metrics for how your efforts are performing across any channel you’re selling on. Invest in analytics tools that can help tell the complete story of how well your digital marketing efforts are going.

 

Shift7 Digital collaborates with manufacturers to help transform their digital capabilities, including analyzing their digital presence, integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company’s digital properties. To learn more about how Shift7 Digital is helping the biggest brands in manufacturing, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

 

About Shift7 Digital

Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue. For more information, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Listen in as Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital, makes a guest appearance on B2B Nation Podcast for Episode: How B2B Marketing is Helping Transform Manufacturing‬

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify Podcasts

Episode Description

It seems like we hear most about the manufacturing sector when we’re being told about the trouble it’s in. Politicians bemoan the loss of manufacturing jobs. Local economies suffer when manufacturers close their doors or re-locate their plants.

Manufacturing in the US is not without challenges. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) will tell you, however, that manufacturing output in the US has risen pretty consistently over the past decade.

If you work in B2B marketing, or aspire to work in B2B marketing, there are some interesting things happening in the manufacturing sector that are worthy of your attention.

First, digital transformation is taking hold in manufacturing, and it’s upending decades-old business models. In the past, manufacturers often sold through distributors. That meant brand awareness and end-user customer experience were not priorities for many manufacturers. But as manufacturers increasingly turn to the Internet to sell direct to customers, all of that is changing.

In addition to transformation, there’s the global pandemic, which as it has in other sectors, is acting as an accelerant for change. One example: manufacturers that make personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to adapt from selling gloves and goggles to a select few businesses or distributors, to promoting products to a vastly expanded market when the pandemic arrived.

Andrew Walker is the CEO of Shift7 Digital, a digital agency that specializes in helping manufacturers navigate digital transformation. Andrew has a front-row seat as digital marketing changes the manufacturing sector. He joins us to talk about it in this episode of B2B Nation.

 

About B2B Nation

B2B Nation is a podcast from TechnologyAdvice that shares expert opinions and advice for B2B marketing professionals. Listen along as Director of Custom Content Mike Pastore sits down with entrepreneurs, CEOs, and thought leaders to learn about the complex avenues available to B2B marketers.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Listen in as Randy Higgins, Chief Strategy Officer of Shift7 Digital, makes a guest appearance with Host Brian Walker on the State of Commerce Experience podcast for Episode 28: What eCommerce means for B2B Manufacturers

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify Podcasts

Episode Description

Randy Higgins, Chief Strategy Officer at B2B manufacturing agency, Shift7 Digital, is the featured guest in this episode. Brian and Randy discuss Shift7 Digital’s role in helping businesses overcome the disruption of the pandemic and improve their digital experiences amid a monumental shift in buyer and distributor behaviors.

As eCommerce accelerated in the wake of the pandemic, a shift in focus away from branch sales saw B2B manufacturers facing huge disruption to their traditional distribution model.

To delve deeper into what’s been happening in B2B manufacturing over the past year, Brian Walker speaks to Randy Higgins, Chief Strategy Officer at Shift7 Digital, the leading digital agency for manufacturers.

Episode Highlights

Together, they discuss the changing roles of manufacturers and distributors, how the B2B sales process has been transformed, and the opportunities this has created, including:

– How the increase in self-service is pushing manufacturers to improve their digital experiences and what the best in the sector are doing to stand out from the crowd.

– Why B2B buyers are willing to pay more for a better commerce experience, and how manufacturers can adjust for this.

– And why manufacturers need to be considering the impact that Amazon Business and other marketplace channels could have on their sales strategy and what they should do to respond.

 

This episode offers many fascinating insights on how the B2B manufacturing space is changing and what manufacturers need to do to adapt to rapidly changing consumer behaviors.

If you’re a manufacturer looking for best practice insights on how to effectively sell your products in a post-covid world, you’ll definitely want to listen to this episode.

 

About The State of Commerce Experience Podcast Series, Sponsored by Bloomreach

Featuring meaningful discussions with commerce industry experts and thought-leaders from around the world.

The podcast will focus on the evolving nature of digital commerce, key industry trends, current market dynamics, and how B2B and B2C companies can differentiate themselves to thrive in the current climate.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

2020 rocked countless industries to their core and digital engagement became the only way to do business for so many. Our whole business is thinking about digital marketing – all day, every day – and not even we could have predicted how important digital marketing would become a year ago. Although 2021 is underway, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel on the COVID pandemic, at least one thing hasn’t changed: digital marketing is here to stay and it needs to continue to be a top priority for businesses who want to compete – no matter the industry.

If the past year has taught the business world anything, it’s that digital is more critical than ever.

Our VP & Executive Creative Director, Derek Van Horne, and Director of Digital Marketing, Iris Kelley, shared their top five predictions for how brands will engage digital marketing in 2021 with MarTech Series.

 

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

What’s bigger than Amazon when it comes to e-commerce? Nothing. Except, well… Amazon. Over the past several years Amazon has remained relatively quiet on their B2B ventures, but after they shared metrics at the end of Q1, it was reported that their B2B market opportunity with their Amazon Business platform could be as large as $1.5 trillion in the US and $2.1 trillion internationally. For context, this is larger than their B2C market.

It’s easy for manufacturers to see the news of Amazon Business as a “if you can’t beat ‘em…” situation, but it’s so much more than that, and it’s foolish to think that either succumbing the marketshare pull or ignoring it entirely is the solution.

See our CEO Andrew Walker’s advice on combating against this competitive trillion dollar company here.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

In 2020, digital marketing became one of the only ways for so many industries to do business, and for many, this was crippling; they simply weren’t prepared for the transition and found themselves scrambling to pull plans together, in some cases, after it was too late.

What everyone knows now is that digital marketing is here to stay, even after COVID will be a distant memory, and it needs to continue to be a top priority for businesses who want to compete – no matter the industry. But what does this mean for your specific brand? “Digital marketing” is a huge umbrella and can mean so many different things.

Where should you prioritize your dollars for 2021? Our CEO Andrew Walker shared his thoughts in Entrepreneur Media.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

I generally find that my years follow a theme. 2018 was the year of getting my hands dirty and building a foundation.

Everything I did last year, personally and professionally, was about taking risks in the name of setting a foundation to make things smoother in the future. 2018 was both taxing and fun, challenging and exciting. I knew everything I did served a greater purpose, but it was sometimes difficult in the moment.

The most significant challenge I faced last year was facilitating a successful rebrand of Shift7 Digital.

This was a decision that pushed every single person in the company to our limits; we were facing tight deadlines, with new obstacles every day. Ultimately, though, it differentiated us in a saturated industry and was the main reason our company saw so much success last year. The rebrand truly set the foundation for our future success.

We’ve refocused our energy to be entirely on B2B manufacturing clients; we trained our sales team to be hungry, hunting, and delivery-focused. We’ve seen enormous success, ultimately winning 22 new clients, blowing our own expectations out of the water.

This was a risk that, as CEO, challenged me. I am extremely fortunate to have a team that is genuinely excited about the work that we’re doing and the clients we’re working with, but change is scary in any organization. It shifts our stability for a bit. I tasked myself with keeping spirits high during a turbulent time. It paid off; we had an all around awesome ad profitable year, with our Shifters showing a revival of commitment to the brand.

However, as successful as 2018 was, it was difficult because I was being pulled in a thousand different directions. I knew I needed to be extremely hands-on in order to build a solid enough foundation for me to step away.

And now I’m ready to step away.

In 2019, the theme will be FOCUS.

Our entire rebrand was built around our hypothesis that the Manufacturing marketplace is ripe for digital transformation, and going deep on that hypothesis is our emphasis in the business right now. I believe we’re going to go further and attract the right clients by focusing on the one thing we want to be known for: bringing digital transformation to manufacturing. I have no interest in trying to be everything to everyone, and I’m excited to go deep.

I’m also ready to step away from some of my daily responsibilities. I don’t have to be so hands-on anymore, because I have an incredible leadership team. I want to empower others to make the important decisions. Because of the energy we’ve invested into this leadership team, I know they’re more than capable of continuing to drive Shift7 forward. They’re amped about the roles and assignments they have. Personally, I can’t wait to witness what I know will be an explosive year.

I’m ready for an incredible 2019. Are you?

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Few things paralyze like uncertainty. When the road is long and the path isn’t clear, the chosen course of action is often to do nothing at all. The status quo remains intact, and things stay more or less the same. Problem is, for companies who are in dire need of digital transformation, the status quo can actually hinder growth and put the future in jeopardy.

That said, we understand the desire to keep things the way they are. B2B Commerce is complex, and it creates plenty of organizational uncertainty. Internal groups feel the ground shifting underneath them, some employees fear how much this change will affect their jobs, and the list goes on. Companies have been going to market the same way for so long. Why change?

Well, because it’s worth it.

 

Better B2B Commerce

We hear it all the time: “We do business on a handshake and our sales team adds a ton of value. Plus, our products are too complicated to be understood independently.” But the reality is, this stance does not align with current customer behavior or desire.

When manufacturers want to create a more effective customer experience, they turn to Shift7. We help them drive revenue growth by serving distributor channels more efficiently and by launching an always-on customer experience that lets them self-service. At Shift7, we have the template that allows companies to differentiate their offering and promote product innovation.

 

Faster B2B Commerce

Digital transformation is a massive organizational undertaking, which is why the following sentence is such a challenge: it often falls to one person, in one department. “It sounds like marketing, so let’s give it to a marketing leader.” The reality is, change needs to happen company-wide for it to be successful.

This is also where Shift7 comes in. Through working with dozens of manufacturers, we know all of the functions that need a seat at the table in an eCommerce transformation. And we’ve curated a set of core features and functionality that’s most vital to driving B2B customer adoption and revenue growth. We have the ingredients that get companies to market faster.

 

Cheaper B2B Commerce

From a marketing standpoint, there are typically two options for going to market digitally: a minimum viable product or a fully custom solution. The MVP is cheaper and faster, but lacks in features. The fully custom route has plenty of features, but it takes a whole lot of time and money to implement.

Enter Shift7 Rocket. It’s a templated, prescriptive approach that brings best-in-class B2B Commerce to companies in an already-packaged way. The end result is (you guessed it) better, easier and cheaper.

With Rocket, you’ll go from Zero to Selling Online in only three months.

 

Goodbye, uncertainty. Hello, certainty.

 

When you’re ready, learn more and request a demo: https://go.shift7digital.com/rocket_launch

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, is announcing a new strategic partnership with Salsify, the commerce experience management platform that helps brands win on the digital shelf. Chosen as one of the first partners in Salsify’s expanded Partner Program, Shift7 Digital will bring Salsify’s best-in-class technology to manufacturers to help them ace their digital shelf strategy. In the wake of the global pandemic, a robust ecommerce presence has become paramount to many manufacturers’ survival.

“In order to provide our clients with the best roadmap for ecommerce success, we need to be able to provide the best possible tools,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “We’re always evaluating and researching what makes the most sense for manufacturers and our partnership with Salsify is an essential step forward in continuing to revolutionize the digital experience for them. Mastering the digital shelf is a key component of nearly all of our plans and no one knows how to do that better than Salsify.”

The Salsify Commerce Experience Management (CommerceXM) platform leverages an integrated product information management (PIM) platform, digital asset management (DAM), and an experience builder with core commerce capabilities designed to enable sales across retailer, distributor, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels. Combined with Shift7’s forward thinking methods that transform digital marketing to drive revenue, manufacturers will be able to harness the power of the digital shelf to their benefit more than ever before.

“Shift7 shares our commitment to creating best-in-class commerce experiences for brand manufacturers, and they’re exactly the type of partner we had in mind when our Partner Program was being developed,” said Dan Herman, SVP, Partners & Alliances at Salsify. “In today’s environment, digital shelf transformation represents a limitless opportunity and Shift7 has made this a core tenet of their business.”

Shift7 will also be part of Salsify’s 2021 virtual partner summit, Digital Shelf Delivery, on Wednesday, February 17. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of market opportunity and learn about new enablement resources and tools.

For more on how Shift7 Digital is helping some of the biggest names in manufacturing elevate their digital presence, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

 

About Shift7 Digital

Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue. For more information, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

About Salsify

Salsify empowers brand manufacturers to win on the digital shelf by delivering the commerce experiences consumers demand anywhere they choose to shop online. The world’s biggest brands including Mars, L’Oreal, Coca-Cola, Bosch, and GSK use Salsify every day to stand out on the digital shelf. To date, Salsify has raised a total of $198.1 million in funding, led by Warburg Pincus, Venrock, Matrix Partners, Greenspring Associates, Underscore VC, and North Bridge.

For more information, please visit: http://www.salsify.com.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Aimee Eichelberger
Aimee@superior-pr.com

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, today announced it has updated its Consultant Listing on Salesforce AppExchange, empowering customers to connect with the right Salesforce-accredited consulting professional for their specific business needs. The updated listing highlights Shift7 Rocket, a proprietary approach to cost-effective B2B commerce implementation, specifically tailored to meet the needs of manufacturers and distributors. Leveraging Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shift7 has created a prescriptive program that can help clients quickly launch enhanced, cost-effective digital commerce strategies.

Shift7 Rocket is currently available through Consultants on AppExchange—a destination within AppExchange tailored for customers looking for deep Salesforce knowledge and specific industry expertise. With the Consultant Finder, customers can identify the best experts to solve individual business challenges from more than 2,000 consulting partner firms. Customers can choose experts based on expertise, location, company size and customer reviews—insights all powered by thousands of customer projects performed by over 65,000 accredited consultants.

 

You can find Shift7 Rocket on AppExchange here: http://s7d.co/salesforceappexchange

 

Shift7 Rocket

In a year when eCommerce has taken center stage as a must-have versus a nice-to-have, Shift7 has developed a solution for manufacturers that can meet their complex needs. According to a Shift7 internal analysis of client results, companies using Shift7 Rocket will experience up to a tripled conversion rate at checkout, a 25 percent increase in average order value and the ability to shift 100 percent of orders to a self-service model. Further, the solution can be implemented in significantly less time than a fully custom solution, nearly 35 percent faster.

 

Comments on the News

“B2B manufacturers have very different eCommerce needs from that of their B2C counterparts, which is why we’ve leveraged our insider knowledge of the industry, combined with our digital expertise to deliver what they need to move their business forward,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “Many of today’s solutions are either too limiting or too complicated and require a lengthy setup – and for many, the only option is a pricey custom offering. Shift7 Rocket can accelerate the digital commerce experience for manufacturers with a cost effective solution that can be quickly deployed and easily managed to meet the specific needs of manufacturers. And because it’s powered by Salesforce, it fits in with CRM and other cloud-based technologies.”

 

About Salesforce AppExchange

Salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading enterprise cloud marketplace, empowers companies, developers and entrepreneurs to build, market and grow in entirely new ways. With more than 6,000 listings, 9 million customer installs and 98,000 peer reviews, AppExchange connects customers of all sizes and across industries to ready-to-install or customizable apps and Salesforce-certified consultants to solve any business challenge.

 

Additional Resources

● Like Salesforce on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/salesforce
● Follow Salesforce on Twitter: https://twitter.com/salesforce
● Follow Shift7 Digital on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/shift7digital
● Follow Shift7 Digital on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shift7_digital

Salesforce, AppExchange, Commerce Cloud and others are among the trademarks of salesforce.com,
inc.

 

About Shift7 Digital

For more information, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

 

 

See Release on PRWeb

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Many sales professionals have grown increasingly worried as new digital technologies enter their space and change how they interact with customers. And, in a world where AI is speculated to replace hundreds of millions of workers by the year 2030, a little worry is expected, even warranted.

At the same, sales teams that refrain from embracing digital set themselves up for severe disadvantages. By becoming defensive to digital initiatives, they’re missing out on increased growth opportunities, finding better ways to connect with customers, and providing superior user experiences.

For example, we have a manufacturing client that goes to market in one of their customers segments exclusive with an outside sale team.  They have a fairly large sales team that manages multiple accounts, and from their perspective, they’ve saturated the market. They do not see many more growth opportunities based on the channels they’re using, and they feel their sales team is already doing everything they can to excel. But, and this is a big BUT… they haven’t tapped into the many advantages digital has to offer. This is something we are working on with them. It’s a big task because it doesn’t just mean introducing a new tech stack, it requires that we change a way of thinking that’s permeated the sales world for decades.

That way of thinking is “I have my black book of contacts, and that’s the value I bring to this organization.” The relationship means everything. The fear is that when a digital approach is adopted, the company becomes the owner of the relationship, rather than the individual. Suddenly, the relationship means nothing. And therefore, my place here means nothing. But that’s absolutely not the case.

Mitigating the fear

In reality, the adoption of digital sales technologies does not destroy those valuable relationships. It actually can help to build and nurture them. Imagine a customer experience where every time an issue needed resolution the customer would have to pick up the phone and call a sales rep to talk it through, costing them time and testing their patience. Customers today are demanding and have grown to EXPECT a seamless, easy-to-use digital experience; in the end, digital tools like automation lessen the burden on them, as well as the sales rep.

Plus, by allowing digital tech to take care of something like day-to-day issue management, customers learn to turn to the sales rep when they actually need them. And the sales reps, in turn, can use their knowledge and talents more effectively. For instance, a customer who is purchasing a complex product can call on the sales rep to better understand it firsthand. That human-to-human interaction is irreplaceable.

There’s also an efficiency angle. Sales reps can spend up to two-thirds of their available time on administrative tasks related to selling, like accounting, invoice searches, etc., which distract from providing active solutions and helping the business to grow. A digital approach allows these to be accomplished through self-service. That means less time spent on mundane, repetitive tasks, more time spent on relationship-building.

Finally, digital sales technologies can also catapult organization-wide progress by providing access to invaluable insights and analytics. Gone are the days of guessing—big data is replacing intuition as a sales tool, and the results include improved customer targeting, more efficient use of time on sales calls, and a better understanding of different accounts and buyer behaviors—even the smallest learnings can make a big difference.

All in all, digital technology and marketing automation isn’t replacing our sales teams. It’s allowing them to evolve, gain access to new insights, and build stronger relationships with potential customers—the human touch isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

It’s here, the moment that was bound to happen: your business needs a new website, product catalog, or application. Or, at the very least, a redesign of what exists today. You’ve explored the idea of keeping the project in-house but are open to hiring a digital partner. You’ve also started to research content management systems, agonizing over which makes the most sense for your B2B organization. This is going to be a bigger undertaking than you anticipated.

Sound familiar?

We’ve seen a handful of clients end up in a similar scenario. And while the sticker shock of hiring an agency may be enough to turn you the other way, the more complicated your content and functionality, the more likely you are to rack up costs going at it alone, ultimately paying more in the long run.

Then there is the technology angle: what technology is right for me? A lot of B2B organizations spend a lot of time anxiously dwelling over different CMS platforms, thinking it’s a make-or-break decision. That thinking, though, is a way of the past. At this point, major systems in this category, what we call the “B2B Top 3”—platforms from Sitecore to Adobe to Episerver—offer similar results, it’s just a matter of personal preference (or a draw from a hat). Rather than determining what CMS to use, your time—and money—is better spent on building a partnership that will yield actual results.

The solid line represents the cost of building your website in house. The initial cost is low, becoming more expensive as additional features are added. The dotted line represents hiring a partner. While there’s a higher initial cost, that cost becomes more stable over time. If your annual revenue is over $750 million, we recommend that you hire an agency like Shift7 Digital.

Choosing the right digital agency

Once you’ve decided that hiring a digital agency is the best approach for your business’ bottom line, there are a number of additional considerations to be made. Some are more obvious. For instance, you should have a complete understanding of your business needs and budget, so that you can clearly discuss them with prospective partners. Three other very important, sometimes forgotten, considerations include:

Does the agency focus on your industry?

If it does, ask them about past engagements, where they’ve found success and what challenges they’ve met. If it doesn’t, stay open to the partnership, but proceed with caution. At Shift7, for example, we focus solely on the Manufacturing industry. Because our focus is so niche, we understand its many nuances. The customer journey, for one, is very complex; we’ve seen other agencies fail to deliver because of this.

Do they have a track record of success?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but…do your research! Make sure the agency is credible. Check out their website. Ask for client testimonials and references. In B2B, we’ve seen agencies big and small who cannot “see around the bend” because they have not executed similar programs—you don’t want to fall victim to the same situation.

Am I hiring a vendor or entering a partnership?

A vendor supplies a product or service, most likely in exchange for money. Their stake in the game is small. A partner, on the other hand, builds a relationship, becoming an extension of your business. Their product or service is a component of the relationship, but it goes much deeper than that. At Shift7, we are interested in partnering with you to drive business outcomes—it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Regardless of the amount of revenue you bring in each year or the savviness of your in-house IT team (or lack thereof), building a B2B website is a daunting task. Make sure that you have the right team in place to get the job done. When you do, everything from the technologies you use to the ongoing enhancements you make will follow suit.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Name a product that you can’t purchase online. If you’re having a hard time thinking of something, good. That’s the point. Manufacturers are starting to recognize that even the most complex products can be sold online and those doing it are seeing results. And now, with Amazon infiltrating B2B, manufacturers don’t just need a website, they need an engaging experience that provides tools and information to the end customer when and where they want it, which ultimately leads to more sales and customer loyalty.

That’s easier said than done—but it can be done with the right approach. It begins with understanding the needs and goals of your customers. Once you know that, you can create experiences and provide capabilities that enable those goals to be achieved. In this world of digital transactions, there are three key capabilities to consider: Commerce, Product Information Management (PIM), and Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ). Most of our manufacturing clients have at least one of these capabilities enabled, but may not be maximizing efficiency, and could benefit from a new strategy.

How do you determine when to make an investment in one (or all three) of these? It’s important to first understand the purpose of each one, how they work together, and their unique benefits. Let’s break them down.

Commerce

Many companies have been selling products on their website for years. This is nothing new.  But it is new (or newer) in Manufacturing. Manufacturers have been selling through distribution for years but not all have made the leap to sell products on their “own” site. Well, it’s time to rethink that strategy. Your own Commerce site is what allows you to create the perfect experience that caters to your customers. Amazon may sell your product but they probably are not cross-selling with your products. No, likely they are cross-selling your product with their own brand or one of your competitors. You have the unique ability to sell your products on your site with all of the specs and rich product content that you probably already have (which Amazon doesn’t), in an experience that you control and customer data that you can now own and learn from. If anything, you’ll find that you might need other tools to help better accomplish that, making your owned experience engaging, informative, and easy to navigate. Here’s where PIM comes in.

PIM – Product Information Management

Manufacturers always have a lot of data. You have complex products with many attributes, spec sheets, data sheets, imagery, videos, etc.  But many of you don’t have the tools to effectively manage that data. And now, as the number of channels you serve and sell through continues to grow and grow rapidly, you desperately need tools that can support multiple channels and be the engine behind your website. Enter PIM. A PIM system provides a centralized platform to ingest, enrich, and distribute product information to all of your channels.

That ability to centrally manage product information for all channels is key. Maintaining such a high level of consistency across every touchpoint allows teams to ensure the integrity of their product data, ultimately engaging customers and driving increased sales across channels. Your website is only as good as the product content it holds. And, you need a PIM to harness the power of that rich data and get it into the customer’s hands at the right time.

PIM is a foundational capability to succeed in the digital world, and we recommend it be prioritized first.

CPQ – Configure, Price, Quote

Manufacturing orders can get complex, especially with the number of variations of often similar products that many manufacturers allow. As a result, the sales process is often slowed because the sales team is unable to quickly deliver a quote, or worse, what’s quoted is wrong. CPQ changes that by managing these complex rules behind the scenes and only exposing valid configurations to the customer. Imagine if you could put all of those highly configurable and complex products online for the user to configure, quote, and ultimately purchase without a human’s involvement whatsoever. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, you can, and it’s not as hard as you might think. You already know all of the configuration options, you just need to load them into a system intended to store them and allow the self-service to begin.

Putting all three together

As the manufacturing digital landscape becomes more competitive, building a sound strategy around these three capabilities is paramount. While each capability is unique and can offer tremendous benefits to manufacturers looking to transform digitally, it’s when they are effectively integrated within the same ecosystem that you’ll see and feel a real impact.

For more information on how you can take advantage of Commerce, PIM, and CPQ, contact us.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

We live in the age of the empowered buyer. We have technology at our fingertips 24/7, and at any given moment we can pop online, research, browse, and purchase in less time than it would take to get to a store. Online orders arrive as quickly as same-day; our favorite shows can be streamed on-demand; and, answers to just about any question in the world can be found in a quarter of a second or less. (Thanks, Google.) To say that things have drastically changed compared to a decade ago is an understatement.

Yet, some industries, like the manufacturing space, still operate with an early-2000s mentality (or worse). Where a commonly held belief is that a website is a nice-to-have but not a necessity—let alone that it should look good or deliver an intuitive, user-friendly experience. 

In fact, we see this a lot at Shift7. We’ve had many conversations with manufacturing executives who don’t believe us when we say that having a good website is important. They argue that their customers don’t use a website; rather, customers go to a store, or (gasp!) pick up the phone and call a sales associate. In reality, though, their customers most likely do visit their website, realize it’s tough to navigate, disorganized, and slow, and never visit again. 

Where does this “I don’t need a website” thinking stem from? Well, for one, a lot of manufacturers have a belief that their product is too complicated to purchase online. There are 1000s of SKUs and each SKU has a bunch of specs. Who would know where to begin? While we understand the concern, technology has evolved tremendously to quell this issue. Imagine someone saying that there would never be a device that could make phone calls, play music, provide the weather, and access the internet, all in one. In comes the iPhone and all our minds are blown. The same goes for manufacturing. We have the digital tools that can do the work (and make it so. much. easier.). Manufacturers just aren’t aware of it or are afraid of the learning curve. Plus, they’re naturally more cautious organizations, and digital adoption equals risk.

There’s also another soft misconception in the manufacturing space that digital marketing isn’t effective—and this most likely is related to that notion that ‘our customers aren’t online.’ Our research tells us otherwise. We’ll find a community of welders on Facebook or recognize that a lot of manufacturing-related searches are starting on Bing. SEO is important, as is advertising on Facebook because both allow the manufacturer to get in front of the right eyes. Yet, still, they shy away and are afraid to make the investment.

At Shift7, our goal is to shift these widely held misconceptions, eliminate the fears, and educate our clients on the reality of the current situation. And then, we work to implement the right strategies, technologies, and tools to shift them into the future (and ideally, shift their bottom line, too).

As we approach a digital implementation, our number one rule is always to ‘know thy customer.’ It’s also one of the top areas we see manufacturers failing; hence, their propensity to think and behave as they did in the past. Manufacturers aren’t aware that their customers are, in fact, online, and they definitely don’t know their online behaviors. 

We remediate this by researching and defining different manufacturing buyer personas. We’ll track online behaviors and work alongside sellers and distributors to better understand how they are shopping for and purchasing products. Then, we can take this information and strategically use it to dictate a web experience that’s tailored to a particular business (and buyer), build an email marketing campaign, and develop smart digital ads that will get clicks and generate sales. 

The bottom line is that manufacturers need to embrace digital experiences & technology to compete in today’s marketplace. As customer expectations change and they become more empowered to shop whenever and wherever they want, this becomes even more critical. Not to mention, manufacturers also face a growing number of competitors who are using technology to their advantage, e.g. Amazon Business. 

All in all, the benefits of making the shift to digital far outweigh the risks. We believe it’s not an option, but mandatory!  We’ll be exploring the benefits, risks, and shifts that can be made over the next couple of weeks in our video series, “Holy Shift.” Stay tuned for that.

 

If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about how Shift7 can help your business, contact us.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Let’s take a trip back in time. The year is 1984, the internet is in its advent, and e-commerce is a mere figment of the imagination. In the manufacturing world, like a lot of other industries, most sales and distribution occur via “door-to-door” tactics—manufacturers travel around with their actual product or examples of it, going from one construction or job site to the next. They model their products directly for their end customers, and those customers choose to purchase or not. Next is the introduction of wholesalers and resellers, big box players like Grainger and Home Depot, which offer physical brick and mortar stores, geographical expansion opportunities, and more customer “reach” than ever before—together, all of these combined provide more revenue for the manufacturer than ever before. These are the glory days!

Fast forward 35 years to present moment. It’s 2019, the age of the empowered buyer, and oh, how times have changed. The old ways of manufacturing sales have been completely disrupted by digital experiences & technology. Fewer and fewer sales are happening in stores or over the phone, let alone at job sites. The only sites that matter now are web sites, which are no longer just a nice-to-have, but a necessity. If you aren’t getting in front of your buyer through online channels, you’re at a severe disadvantage, and if you don’t make a change, you could easily lose your business. Especially with behemoths like Amazon on your tail.

If these current times have you thinking “holy sh*t!,” you’re not alone. In fact, a lot of manufacturers are feeling the pressure. And that’s why we at SHIFT7 Digital work solely with manufacturers, helping them to ‘fast forward’ out of the past and into the future that is happening right now.

In an all-new, totally original video series, we will educate manufacturers on the digital tools  they need to know and use every day to better this part of their business. I’m talking online experiences, digital marketing, product information management, and how to master e-commerce.

Welcome to the path forward, or as we like to call it, the Holy Shift moment.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, “The Future was Yesterday.”

 

Holy What?

Future Proof series, our team of experts will walk you through how you can take control of your digital experiences, start to finish. From creating a roadmap to understanding your customers and everything in between, this series will take you from “holy $#*!t” to “holy shift.” Welcome to the path forward.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Let’s talk about the history of manufacturers and how they did sales and distributions over the last couple of decades.

First of all, what made manufacturers successful, historically? A big component of their success was having sales agents and reps who were out in their cars, hitting the pavement, and meeting with their end customer in person to share new collateral and catalogs and demonstrate their products. That worked well for a while. Then, new distribution channels came along like retailers and wholesalers with big box stores offering regional expansion. Think Lowe’s, Airgas, Fastenal, Grainger, and more.

While all of that was wonderful, times have changed.

At SHIFT7 Digital, we love to use analogies to put things into perspective for our clients. So consider this: In the early days of Nascar, a pit stop for a “quick” tire change would take about 60 seconds, maybe a little less if you had a skilled pit crew. Nowadays, do you know that turnaround time? 12 seconds or less for a swap of all four tires. Pretty impressive.

The point here is that Nascar teams had to evolve and become more nimble to compete. The same goes for manufacturers. Just as painful as it is to watch the seemingly slow motion of a 1950s pit stop, it’s painful for us to witness manufacturers carry on as they did in the past and think that they’ll achieve similar success as they always did.

The fact is, the world has gone digital, and what’s worked in the last hundred years isn’t going to cut it in the next hundred. So, here’s what manufacturers need to stay ahead of the curve:

 

Digital Strategy — This can mean different things to different people. In this case, we’re talking a strategic plan for taking teams, business processes, and systems digital with modern technologies and tools.

UX — Essentially, keeping your customers happy by offering an easy and convenient User Experience.

Analytics — Using data to drive continual improvement of your UX and achieve business outcomes.

CRM —Using Customer Relationship Management technologies to ultimately drive sales and customer retention.

CMS — Creating and managing content that your customers want using the technology of a Content Management System.

PIM — Managing product information via a Product Information Management system, allowing you to market and sell products easier and in more channels.

eCommerce — Selling your product online. This. Is. Crucial.

Digital Marketing — Selling and marketing your products using digital technologies and distribution channels.

 

Not sure where to begin? That’s what we’re here for. Follow along with our Future Proof video series over the next couple of weeks as we break it down for you. And of course, don’t be afraid to give us a shout with questions at Shift7Digital.com/contact-us.

In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s episode, “If It Ain’t Fixed…Break It.”

 

Holy What?

The world of B2B manufacturing is changing—ready or not. But if this has you thinking, “holy sh*t!” don’t worry — you’re not alone. SHIFT7 Digital is here to bring the world’s leading manufacturers into the future. In each episode of the Future Proof series, our team of experts will walk you through how you can take control of your digital experiences, start to finish. From creating a roadmap to understanding your customers and everything in between, this series will take you from “holy $#*!t” to “holy shift.” Welcome to the path forward.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

When’s the last time you used a landline? How about a pay phone? (Do those things even exist anymore?) If you’re at a loss, we’re not surprised. The fact of the matter is that it’s 2019 and just like we use mobile phones over landlines, it’s the same with your website—it’s time to modernize and invest in your digital experience.

You might be thinking, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But, hate to break it to you, that is a laggard mentality—and who wants to be a laggard? No one. At SHIFT7, we say break it. Even if what you’ve been doing has been working (sort of), we guarantee that there’s room for improvement. It’s a chance to be a leader in your industry and to leave the rest of the laggards in the dust.

Let’s Go!

Moving forward with digital transformation begins by asking yourself some critical questions* such as:

What digital investment have you made in the last two years?
Have you developed a Digital Roadmap?
Do you have an understanding of your end customers’ online shopping needs and buying behaviors?
Does your company have defined goals and objectives for your digital experiences and channels?

 

Once you have a better idea of where you stand in your digital maturity, the next step is to create a solid digital strategy that touches on every aspect of the business, from marketing and sales to user experience, product management, technology platforms, and more.

If this sounds overwhelming, that’s okay. Companies like SHIFT7 exist solely for this reason—we want to help our partners create the best digital plan for their unique business needs and to ultimately improve their bottom line. Our success is proven by theirs.

If you’re interested in getting started, or at least want to have some questions answered, get in touch.

And, of course, stay tuned for next week’s episode, “With Great PIM Comes Great Responsibility.”

*Note: you can find these and more in our Manufacturing Digital Maturity Index.

 

Holy What?

The world of B2B manufacturing is changing—ready or not. But if this has you thinking, “holy sh*t!” don’t worry — you’re not alone. SHIFT7 Digital is here to bring the world’s leading manufacturers into the future. In each episode of the Future Proof series, our team of experts will walk you through how you can take control of your digital experiences, start to finish. From creating a roadmap to understanding your customers and everything in between, this series will take you from “holy $#*!t” to “holy shift.” Welcome to the path forward.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

You may not know your customer as well as you thought.

While you might believe that they are loyal to your brand and your product, what’s to keep them from venturing into other great options—like those on the front page of Google’s search results—when shopping online?

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: It’s the age of the empowered buyer. Your customer is definitely browsing, researching, and buying online. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it’s just the way it is. And the only way you’re going to stay top of mind is if you meet them where they are—in the ethers of ecommerce and online marketing.

I know what you’re thinking. How do I get there?

As a manufacturer, this is one of the top questions you can ask yourself about taking your marketing direct to consumer – whether contractor, engineer, or scientist. How do I get the right product, in the right place, at the right time, all on my terms? As you can imagine, it’s much easier said than done.

It takes research to really understand where your customers are, both online and offline. Then, you need to have the customer journey maps to support it. From there, you can create a robust marketing plan that targets your ideal customers with the exact information they want (and need) to commit to purchasing your product.

As we like to say, if you market it, they will come.

Interested in learning more about going digital with your marketing efforts? Connect with us at Shift7Digital.com/contact-us. Plus, continue to follow along with our Future Proof video series to learn more about how manufacturers can thrive in a digital world.

 

Holy What?

The world of B2B manufacturing is changing—ready or not. But if this has you thinking, “holy sh*t!” don’t worry — you’re not alone. SHIFT7 Digital is here to bring the world’s leading manufacturers into the future. In each episode of the Future Proof series, our team of experts will walk you through how you can take control of your digital experiences, start to finish. From creating a roadmap to understanding your customers and everything in between, this series will take you from “holy $#*!t” to “holy shift.” Welcome to the path forward.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Andrew Walker, CEO, SHIFT7 Digital

As a leader of a digital agency that’s in a huge growth period, there’s a lot at stake. Days are stacked with a laundry list of to-dos and meetings, a lot of which are virtual and across multiple time zones—we’ve now got offices in New York, Raleigh, Chicago, and are looking to expand farther west. I’ve got my hands in operations, sales, marketing, HR, you name it, and I like to keep myself accessible to everyone on the team. I always try to operate with a people-first mentality. 

In fact, I recently found myself thinking about leadership, the challenges leaders face, and what it takes to be a good leader in 2019. And, unsurprisingly, people came to mind immediately. Why? For a number of reasons. One being that without people, there’s no one to lead or be led (and no one to keep the business alive!). People are the lifeblood of the organization. So I find it imperative to make sure they feel supported in all they do, from taking initiative and risks to feeling confident enough to vocalize an idea. 

I also want to ensure that my team is happy and enjoying their work. I often ask my executive team and key direct reports, “are you having fun?” I think that if you’re doing what you like, you’re passionate, and you’re having fun, success will follow, both on personal and organizational levels. It’s a win-win.

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got offices across the country. For this reason, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of communication. I encourage overcommunication on the regular, in an effort to create full transparency among action items and to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. As a leader, it’s my job to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and keeping an open line of communication does that.

Leadership, of course, comes with its fair share of challenges. And one of the main challenges facing leaders today also has to do with people—hiring the right ones. I apply a slow-to-hire approach, and believe that when you have the right people in place and play to their strengths, you’re going to get the most out of them. As a result, your organization will run like a well-oiled machine.

Recruiting, therefore, is critical. We use tools like a strengthsfinder, Hogan assessment, and other sorts of DISC personality assessments. We’ve also made a point to clearly define our core values so that we can attract people who match them. We honor things like accountability, adaptability, and—you guessed it, fun. When you’ve got like-minded people working together they do really well, and it carries over across different disciplines from design to engineering to sales.

Another challenge leaders face is getting too bogged down in the day-to-day operational aspects of the business and current state of the market. To be successful, leaders need to be thinking six months, 12 months, five years down the road. I’ve found my own success with this by creating a clear vision or north star and sticking to it. I am unwavered in my thinking when it comes to that vision, and that mentality carries through when I have conversations with clients, recruits, colleagues, and peers. It’s absolutely vital to stay clean in your thinking about the future and your beliefs about where the business is going to go.

I thoroughly enjoy leading my team at SHIFT7 day in and day out, despite frequent long days and lots of responsibilities. To those readers who would like to step into a leadership position themselves someday, my advice is twofold: first, be a sponge. The more embedded you get in your line of business, knowing each and every detail, the more successful you’re going to be down the road when it’s time to rise up and manage, lead, and direct. When you’ve got solid experience in the ground level work, you’ll be better able to create a more holistic understanding of the business—the kind that’s required by a strong leader.

Secondly … never stop having fun.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

As manufacturers look to the future with the goal of optimizing their digital experiences, there is much more than meets the eye. While a shiny new website can help to modernize the business and achieve some goals, there is more beneath the surface of a webpage that should be addressed.

Because these backend elements are not front and center, they often get overlooked or intentionally disregarded, thinking that they must not be that big of a deal. We’ve had a number of clients who do not realize the true importance of their commerce and product information management (PIM) systems until we have a chance to educate them on it. And even then, there is still a learning curve.

Sometimes the question will arise as to what system is the best or most essential: content, commerce, or PIM? The answer is that there is no answer. Each system should not live in a vacuum; in fact, it’s the triad that creates the most impact. The ultimate goal, then, is not to put all of your eggs into one basket, but to finetune the balance of all three, and that is where partnering with an expert like Shift7 can make the difference.

Before we get too far, let’s make sure we are on the same page by defining each piece of the puzzle.

Content – The website front end (everything you see and read on the screen).

 

PIM –  A management system that organizes product content in the backend of your website and other channels. It enables consistency across all channels, e.g. the website, a catalog, a mobile app, etc.

 

Commerce – A system in the backend of your website that enables transactions to occur.

 

At Shift7, we know the ins and outs of the manufacturing world and how to best leverage these digital technologies and tools to “future proof” a business—plus bring in more business. We also know how to make the most out of digital investment no matter how far along in the process that business is.

A few manufacturers we’ve worked with have been in business for decades, some even up to 100 years. For someone with that sort of history, diving headfirst into PIM—a necessity, but also a substantial investment—isn’t always the best choice. Rather, the goal should be to find a healthy balance of product content, investment in PIM, and investment in other areas like commerce. On the other hand, with a younger client who already has a solid PIM system in place, we’d look to optimize channels and create more advanced marketing strategies around them.

To help guide the decision-making process, we consider the manufacturer’s current operations and objectives. In the table below you can see how this plays out. The goal is to find a balance, and when you do, success follows, and the investment will seem well worth it.

 

If the business focuses on a high volume of transactions and has a high volume of content, chances are it’ll need the triple play.

If there is a high volume of transactions and a low volume of content, the business can get by with only a new commerce system.

If there is a high volume of content but a low volume of transactions, PIM and content will suffice.

If there is a low volume of content and a low volume of transactions, you can start with content only, and hopefully work toward more transactions.

 

One of the biggest challenges we face is not the technology and the ‘doing.’ Rather, it’s change adoption. Because a lot of these companies have been around for a while, they only know things as they’ve always been done. Getting the organization to rally around and adopt new concepts is difficult—especially when it requires the company to entertain an altogether new business model or sales model. (And we can advise on that, too.)

So, where does that leave us? If you’re a manufacturer, you’re probably wondering where and how you can begin to “future proof” your company. It’s hard to say without a conversation first and knowing exactly where you stand in that table, but most likely, updating your PIM, and then finding the ideal balance of it alongside commerce and content will get you on the right path.

If you’re interested in learning more or scheduling a free first-time consultation to discuss how to get ready for your business’ short and long term future, reach out to us on our contact page.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Is your manufacturing company ready for the next five years? How about the next 10? If your immediate response was not a resounding “Yes!,” read on.

Traditionally, manufacturers would create their products and outsource the sales and marketing functions of those products to a distributor or dealer. Then, it was up to those third parties to connect with customers directly. The model was very linear with the manufacturer on one end, the customer on the other, and the dealer/distributor somewhere in between.

Now that’s all changed. Customers have greater demands. Buyers are more empowered. And information and products are not only more widespread than ever, but also readily available at the click of a button. For manufacturers to compete they need to meet their customers wherever they are—usually online—losing the middle-person in some cases, and using them in others. The linear model of old has turned into a web of opportunity—except a lot of manufacturers aren’t navigating the threads with ease, they’re getting stuck.

 At Shift7, for instance, we see our manufacturer clients in various states of pain. Usually, they don’t know where to put their resources, time, and energy and as a result, get stuck in reaction mode. Their attempts to meet the needs of various distributors, dealers, customers, and internal stakeholders fall short and they only get things done ‘halfway.’ In the end, nothing is actually organized and there’s no value added to the tasks they’ve completed. It’s our job to help remedy that, bring added value into the equation, and optimize processes for the future. Below, I break down a few key points for manufacturing companies planning their next five years…and beyond.

Lay the Foundation

We’ve talked about the importance of getting the foundational elements right in an earlier article, namely your content, commerce, and product information management (PIM) systems. The goal is to find a balance of these three systems that works for your business. A lot of our clients are unaware of how important PIM is, and that it is truly the foundation of the optimization strategy.

Think about it this way: a manufacturer is a product maker—you better have your product suite in order! While you can have a superior product, it will lose out to lesser products if you do not have thorough and consistent content for it, e.g. solution-oriented product descriptions and technical specs, that live across multiple channels, from your website to a catalog to your distributors’ and dealers’ websites, catalogs, and more. A PIM takes care of aggregating your products and content for you, thus creating the best experience for you, your buyer-partners, and most importantly, your end customers.

Once the PIM system is in place, the next step focuses even more closely on building onto that customer experience. The goal is to create the most effective experience for the customer at their point of engagement, wherever that may be. How? 

Know Your Customer

Historically, a lot of manufacturers outsourced sales and marketing efforts to other firms. Because of this, they have little insight into who their actual customer is, where they’re located, where they shop, and how they explore different channels. This lack of customer research is a huge miss! Especially because all of this information is out there, and whether or not you decide to use it to your advantage, one of your competitors probably is. 

Understanding the customer journey is imperative to creating a useful, usable, and desirable experience—one that builds retention and loyalty. A customer journey map is a great tool that sheds light on the entire transactional process, from the initial trigger, e.g. need a new product, to what your customer is thinking and feeling at each touchpoint throughout the process beginning at awareness through purchase and beyond. At Shift7, we work closely with our clients to create user personas by interviewing actual customers, we do research, and build customer journey maps based on our findings. The amount we can learn is impressive, and when strategically applied, sets our manufacturer partners up for success.

Be Aware of the Empowered Buyer

Finally, the notion of the “empowered buyer.” It’s that idea that you may not know your customer as well as you thought, which, I realize, contradicts what I said above. The point here is awareness. Understand that it’s becoming exponentially more challenging to understand buyer behaviors. It’s important to create an experience that is consistent and accurate, but that does not guarantee that your customer won’t decide to purchase from somewhere else out of convenience. Understand their perspectives, find and engage them, and realize that you’re not going to win them all (and that’s ok).

Final Thoughts

Preparing your business for the future doesn’t have to feel daunting. It begins with performing a thorough review of your current business practices and digital expertise, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and then creating an action plan to get you to where you want to be. Get a solid foundation in place, know your customers, and remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Consider partnering with a digital expert who understands how your business has operated over the last 50 years and knows exactly how to prepare it for the next 50.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, announced that it has tripled its profitability in the last 24 months including adding nearly 40 manufacturing clients to its roster and growing its team by 36 percent in just the last year. The growth is driven by the company’s innovative approach to helping manufacturers deliver on the digital experience. A new study shows two-thirds of manufacturers plan to invest significantly in their online experience and technologies in the year ahead, while a recent survey from Salesforce shows that 74 percent of business buyers say they’ll pay more for a better B2B experience.

“Like every industry today, manufacturers must maximize their digital footprint now to connect with current and prospective customers in more seamless and meaningful ways,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “Shift7’s mission is to help manufacturers evolve and succeed in this decade and beyond and that includes ensuring they understand the nuances and opportunities in the digital space, including transitioning to a more customer-centric approach to doing business. Our growth signals that manufacturers understand the value of our expertise and we will continue to focus on putting them on a path to digital fluency.”

Shift7 Digital collaborates with businesses to help educate them about the changing landscape, including analyzing their digital presence, integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company’s digital properties.

To kick off the new decade, Shift7 Digital is revealing its top five tips for digital engagement in 2020:

Online Experience is Everything… and Means Everything: If your website isn’t generating leads, chances are your user experience is subpar, and that spells trouble with the continued demands of B2B buyers. 80 percent of buyers will switch suppliers if the experience is poor. Brands will need to continue to think through how customers are discovering the product, their website interface and the sequence of actions customers take as they navigate the site and the impressions they take away from the experience – everything from beginning to end.

Product Organization is King: Deeper into the user experience, if a website’s products aren’t organized in an intuitive, easy-to-use way, buyers will take their business elsewhere. Those making purchasing decisions must be able to find what they’re looking for within seconds of visiting a website. Manufacturers are catching on here, and four out of five will invest in product information tools to support online distribution channels.

Customers Write the Rules: Today, customers expect consistently high-value digital experiences. It’s no longer just about the product – they want meaningful relationships with brands and they hold the power in where, how and if they want to engage with a business. Acknowledge your customers as the decision-makers they are for your business and make sure your digital footprint matches their needs.

A Positive Purchasing Experience is Essential: In order for customers to know you, understand who you are, and take action – you must have the ability to transact. This can happen on your site, a third party site, a marketplace, a dealer or a distributor partnership. Customers are researching and shopping, and eventually will move to purchase – this moment will come and go if you don’t have the capability to exactly meet your customers’ needs.

Know the ROI: As with all business decisions, investments in digital can’t be made without knowing how they will service the business. Set up measurements and analytics tools to be sure that your investment in digital is hitting its KPIs and working to drive traffic for the brand.

Shift7 expects to maintain its aggressive growth trajectory, including plans to add more than 50 employees in 2020.

 

About Shift7 Digital
Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

New Survey of Manufacturers Shows Over Half Have Not Accepted PPP Assistance

Despite a tumultuous first half of 2020 that has impacted every industry across the globe, particularly manufacturing, a new study of hundreds of manufacturers, commissioned by the modern digital agency for manufacturers, Shift7 and conducted by Zogby Analytics, reveals that while four in ten manufacturers say they’ve furloughed and laid off employees this year, over half (56 percent) have not taken any form of government financial aid, including the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). At the same time, the survey shows they’re shifting focus to optimize their digital presence during this time.

“Every manufacturer can benefit from a more robust digital footprint right now, and the pandemic has given many the push into the space they needed to make it happen,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “This shift is paramount as brands need a stronger direct relationship with consumers, retailers and resellers alike. Manufacturers that are addressing this revolution are the ones that will survive and thrive in this environment and beyond.”

The Shift7 study finds over two-thirds of manufacturers have moved marketing dollars from traditional to digital channels this year and with eight in ten investing the most of their marketing spend on their own website. This trend correlates directly with where manufacturers are seeing sales – 52 percent say the majority of their sales have come from online channels in 2020.

Shift7 Digital works with businesses to guide them through the changing digital landscape, including analyzing their online presence, integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company’s digital properties.

About Shift7 Digital
Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue.

About the Zogby Survey
Zogby Analytics was commissioned by Shift7 to conduct an online survey of 208 business decision-makers at manufacturing businesses from June 30 – July 2, 2020. Using internal and trusted interactive partner resources, thousands of adults were randomly invited to participate in this interactive survey. Each invitation was password coded and secure so that one respondent could only access the survey one time. Using information based on census data, voter registration figures, CIA fact books and exit polls, we use complex weighting techniques to best represent the demographics of the population being surveyed. Weighted variables may include age, race, gender, region, party, education, and religion. Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error for 208 is +/- 6.8 percentage points. This means that all other things being equal, if the identical survey were repeated, its confidence intervals would contain the true value of parameters 95 times out of 100.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, is revealing how manufacturers can maximize their digital presence to drive more meaningful touchpoints with customers. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 49 percent in April, compared to early March prior to the shelter-in-place orders. At the same time, more than 35.5 percent of manufacturers say they are facing supply chain disruptions, according to a study by The National Association of Manufacturers. Now, more than ever, manufacturers are being forced to be creative with workarounds to make their business run in the face of major supply chain disruptions.

“The last five weeks have been a microcosm of the last five months of transformation taking place within the manufacturing industry,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “While the onset of Covid-19 resulted in many consumers being paralyzed with fear, we’ve seen a definite shift in shoppers seeking out the brands they trust and engaging with them more directly. With that, manufacturers today, particularly in this environment, must readjust priorities and focus on becoming more visible online. This pandemic is creating a catalyst for change that in many ways, is long overdue for the manufacturing industry.”

Shift7 supports manufacturers like Lincoln Electric, Corning and USG, including adding nearly 40 manufacturing clients to its roster and growing its team by 36 percent in just the last year.

With the uncertainty and strain of today’s environment, it’s critical that manufacturers are making the most of their primary experience channel – their own website.

 

Here are seven ways to shift the digital focus so brands can survive and thrive in quarantine and beyond:

Put Your FAQs Front and Center

Frequent communication with internal and external stakeholders is always critical, but especially now. Launch a dynamic microsite to manage real-time communication with customers for timely access to your brand and business.

Make Your Products Visible Far and Wide

Brick and mortar distributors continue to be shut down around much of the country so meet your customers where they are: online. Ensure all of your products are on your website and syndicated to your resellers and distributors. Build a “task force” to ensure all products are visible and accessible to all customers. Solutions like Product Information Management (PIM) can assist greatly.

Stand Up an eCommerce Store

With cloud-based solutions, an MVP eCommerce website can be launched quickly to establish minimum capabilities to support eCommerce. This not only gives customers direct access to your products, but also helps to support revenue levels.

Streamline with Self-Service

Your customers should be able to handle most of what they need themselves within your website. Make sure they can self-service their order status and enhance your customer portal with up-to-date order and shipping information that makes finding what they need as easy as possible.

Set Your Sales Team Up for WFH Success

When your sales team cannot be face-to-face with your customers, arm them with content and insights that will keep them selling seamlessly. This includes basic necessities like CRM capability, high-quality video conferencing, answers to FAQs, and more.

Support Parts & Accessory Needs

Don’t forget that your customers need access to parts and service information. Build a service portal with rich content and parts availability that allows them to get the information they need quickly without jumping through digital hoops.

Reallocate to Digital

Even experts don’t know how long it will take to get back to “normal” from this. Move funds for this year’s trade shows and events to digital marketing and advertising tactics in order to reach customers to which you no longer have in-person access.

Shift7 Digital collaborates with businesses to help educate them about the changing landscape, including analyzing their digital presence, integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company’s digital properties.

 

About Shift7 Digital

Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, announced its partnership with Salesforce Commerce Cloud Quick Start Solutions. Shift7 Digital is the only B2B manufacturing focused agency that is part of the exclusive partner program. Created in the wake of this year’s economic uncertainty, the Quick Start Solutions are Commerce Cloud packages designed to launch an ecommerce site, manage the experience, and start growing, fast. The solution is a complete package of product, implementation, and managed services to get your B2B website live and accepting orders within five weeks.

 

“This program is a testament to the tremendous need for manufacturers to focus on building a stronger ecommerce presence, as well as our ability to be the best possible digital marketing partner for manufacturers,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “In some cases, standing up a full stack ecommerce business for a client who is starting from scratch can take over a year. This program distills everything down into the must-haves, making it easy to use and allowing for a launch that is measured in weeks, not months.”

 

Salesforce is currently used by more than 150,000 customers worldwide. This turnkey program will be completely seamless for any companies that already use Salesforce and will allow stand up an ecommerce solution that can be scaled to each customer’s individual needs.

 

Shift7 Digital collaborates with manufacturing businesses to help educate them about the changing landscape, including analyzing their digital presence, integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company’s digital properties.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

We are so proud to announce we’ve been chosen as one of Crain’s New York’s 100 Best Places to Work in NYC! This award is based largely on feedback given by our employees. What an honor to be recognized by our talented NY Shifters!

 

Check out the List : New York’s Best Places to Work 2020 (crainsnewyork.com)

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

A Leading Digital Marketing Agency Hires Joe Anzalone as VP of Salesforce Technology to Help Manufacturers Accelerate Online Presence

 

Today, Shift7 Digital, a modern digital agency for manufacturers, announced the appointment of Joe Anzalone as its new Vice President of Salesforce Technology. As the former Global Director for Salesforce at consulting firm Slalom, Anzalone is an experienced technologist with two decades of expertise driving integrations that support go-to-market strategies for leading products.

“Joe has an impressive track-record of leading successful Salesforce client programs, and building strong client relationships, combined with a deep understanding of the Salesforce ecosystem and its solutions,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “Shift7 remains laser-focused on delivering a complete approach that supports digital acceleration for manufacturers – which has never been more important. Joe is a key piece of our approach because we recognize that an effective approach starts with a well-equipped team.”

A recent survey, commissioned by Shift7, found that over two-thirds of manufacturers have moved marketing dollars from traditional to digital channels this year – with eight in ten investing the most of their marketing spend on their own website. More than half said the majority of their sales have come from online channels in 2020. Shift7 collaborates with manufacturers to help educate them about the changing digital landscape, including analyzing their digital presence, integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company’s digital properties to help them accelerate their online footprint.

“Shift7 is truly an innovator and their creation of this new role underscores its commitment to bringing together experts in technology and consulting to help manufacturers move the needle,” said Anzalone. “I’m excited to join the team and help bring a competitive advantage to our customers.”

Shift7 has also added Amanda Marx as Vice President of Marketing. Marx is the former Director of Digital and Product Marketing at Life Fitness, with prior consulting experience at Abbott Laboratories and Acquity Group.

“We have recruited two stellar individuals who are leaders in their fields and I, personally, recognize the value they each bring and what that means for the growth of our company as well as the brands we support,” added Walker.

 

Salesforce, and others are among the trademarks of salesforce.com, inc.

 

About Shift7 Digital

Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

CEO Andrew Walker to Chair First Day of The Conference, Additional Execs to Lead Panels and Fireside Chats

Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, is announcing that several of their top executives have been selected to speak at the first day of B2B Online Connect on Monday, December 7. Shift7 CEO Andrew Walker will serve as Chairman of the first day, including opening remarks for the conference, as well as moderating a panel, “Implementing Enhanced Customer Experience Strategies To Differentiate From Competitors” and a roundtable discussion on Ecommerce channel acceleration. Additionally, Derek Horne, Shift7’s Vice President & Executive Creative Director, will moderate a fireside chat, “Building a CX Agenda To Get Ahead Of The Competition.”

Ecommerce has seen staggering growth this year due to COVID-19 and many manufacturers have been forced to reevaluate their digital presence. In fact, over two-thirds of manufacturers have moved marketing dollars from traditional to digital channels this year and with eight in ten investing the most of their marketing spend on their own website. And, this matches where manufacturers are seeing sales – 52 percent say the majority of their sales have come from online channels in 2020.

WHEN: Monday, December 7 beginning at 12:00PM ET

REGISTER: HERE

FOR WHO: Senior-Level Ecommerce & Digital Marketers From Manufacturers & Distributors

WHAT: Sessions with thought leaders on the forefront of B2B digital marketing, including:

Fireside Chat – Building a CX Agenda To Get Ahead Of The Competition

While customer experience was traditionally a focus for consumer facing business, B2B organizations understand how this can be a key differentiator. Tracy Robertson, Global VP of Customer Experience for Kimberly-Clark, and Derek Van Horne, Vice President & Executive Creative Director, Shift7 Digital will take a deep dive into the CX strategies they’ve put in place to meet customer expectations and remain competitive.

Panel Discussion – Implementing Enhanced Customer Experience Strategies To Differentiate From Competitors

This year’s Ecommerce trends, such as prioritizing SEO and improving product content management, have common themes centered on the customer experience. This panel of B2B thought leaders, including Shift7’s Andrew Walker and Randy Higgins, will take a deep dive into ways to get customers talking and providing the experiences they expect.

Innovation Roundtable – Ecommerce Channel Acceleration: Are You Ready?

It’s not a secret; you know your brand needs to go all in on digital, specifically on Ecommerce. If your business is going to thrive, your path to digital fluency needs to be accelerated ASAP. This roundtable will discuss key pillars of digital acceleration for manufacturers that will guide them on the path forward.

 

About Shift7 Digital

Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue. For more information, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Looking to improve customer experience in 2021? You’re not alone. Many companies rank an improved customer experience at or near the top of their priority lists. The optimization takes plenty of time (and budget—more on that in a moment) to accomplish. It’s a challenging journey.

If you’ve landed on this page, you’re likely convinced the customer experience is mission-critical work, and you’re not under any illusions that it will be simple. You might have a vision defined for the experience you want to create for your customers. The next question leadership might ask is, of course, the big one: what’s this going to cost?

We tackle this question all the time. And the answer is (you’re gonna love this) it depends.

However, it’s safe to say that it’ll probably cost more than you think. Particularly in a large enterprise with the complexity often found in robust manufacturing environments—many SKUs, configurable products, technical customer personas and a complex go to market model. You’ll need to bring multiple new technologies into the architecture and get them connected to deliver that seamless customer experience you’re dreaming about.

For those all-important budgeting conversations, we tell clients to plan their budgets across a few key areas:

Software Vendor Licensing

To achieve your vision, bringing new systems into your current architecture can fill gaps beautifully. Things like PIM, CMS, eCommerce, Marketing Automation, OMS, Punchout, the list goes on. In today’s SaaS world, these are typically annual contracts you will negotiate and account for monthly over multi-year terms.
What to expect: anywhere from $50K to 80K of year per software.

Software Vendor Implementation Fees
Depending on the software and complexity to implement, the vendors themselves may be involved in its implementation and integration. Plan for these project-based fees.
What to expect: if your vendor requires it, budget up to $50K per software.

Outside Services to Launch

In most cases, our clients use an outside partner to lead and execute the many phases and projects that bring customer experience to life. This spans all chosen technologies and works to connect new systems and core back office foundations like CRM, ERP and PLM. Our recommendation: selecting fewer partners that can deliver work across technology platforms will save you time, money and headaches as compared to having a specialized partner for each.
What to expect: anywhere from $400K to $1.2M per phase/technology.

Post-Launch Operations

Don’t forget this part! Think of it like space flight. The launch isn’t when the mission ends. It’s when it begins.

Make ongoing enhancements to the experience you’ve built while you work to grow adoption and conversion. You might be able to use existing business processes and teams. But in most cases, you’ll define and hire new roles (or engage new partners) in ongoing retainer work to operate new channels and handle demand.
What to expect: $50K to $100K per month for ongoing services, plus additional headcount costs.

Bottom Line?

The cost is significant, and it doesn’t end when the new experience launches. It’s daunting enough to convince leadership to spend on a digital overhaul, and that prospect gets even trickier when it comes time to maintain and improve it. The fear they feel is understandable; it’s easy to see a project like this and focus solely on the cost.

But make no mistake: the returns are astounding. An optimized and connected customer experience is what dishes out the largest piece of market share pie—especially in industries (looking at you, manufacturing) that are generally dragging their feet. It’s up to you to manage a comprehensive view of all of it and to sell the vision to your leadership team.

Also, it should now be noted, you do not have to tackle this monumental task alone. It’s in our DNA at Shift7 to help companies like yours, and we’ll be here if you want a dedicated, experienced partner to bring your customer experience vision to life.

You can learn more about what we do here. But whatever you do, be sure to tackle strategic roadmap work while it’s top-of-mind. It minimizes risk, improves return and is the critical first step in getting a clear view of all the phases and the overall plan to have a customer experience you can be proud of.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

New Data Shows COVID-19 Accelerates Digital for Brands Worldwide

Today, Shift7 Digital, the modern digital agency for manufacturers, is sharing insights on the digital marketing landscape for 2021, coming out of a year when a strong digital footprint has never been more important. According to a recent report from investment firm GP Bullhound, the shift from physical to digital stores has accelerated by four to six years as a result of COVID-19, but many were forced to adapt on-the-fly. The same report found that as of Q4 2019, 41 percent of brands did not have a specialized team for managing Ecommerce supply chains. Shift7’s primary customer base, manufacturers, has not always been at the forefront of early adoption in the digital space, but the pandemic has been the push that many needed.

“It simply cannot be overstated how important having the right digital footprint has become for businesses this year,” said Andrew Walker, CEO of Shift7 Digital. “Manufacturers aren’t always known for being leaders in digital marketing the same way, say, the SaaS industry is, but the global pandemic has made ecommerce channels impossible for them to ignore and we’ve seen real, meaningful change for a number of them over the course of the year.”

To help businesses put their best foot forward going into 2021, Shift7 Digital’s top executives are sharing tips for how to get the most of digital marketing in 2021:

Andrew Walker, Chief Executive Officer, on ROI Value: As with all business decisions, investments in digital can’t be made without clear benefits. And the business case for digital channel expansion is undeniable. Define targets to be sure that your investment in digital is hitting its KPIs and working to drive impact for the brand.

Randy Higgins, Chief Strategy Officer, on Channel Prioritization: It sounds simple, but prioritizing your digital channels matters. It’s not about doing everything on every channel you can find, but finding and prioritizing the ones that are being embraced by your customers and make sense for your business.

Nick Schulte, EVP, Technology, on Product Content: Your product information, and the rich way it’s presented to your customers, is crucial to your digital success. If your products aren’t discoverable in an intuitive, easy-to-use way, your buyers may opt for an alternate brand; those making purchasing decisions must be able to find what they’re looking for and recognize its value quickly.

Derek Van Horne, VP, Executive Creative Director, on Modernizing Marketing: More likely than not, one of the things you’re aiming for is measurable, scalable growth; if you haven’t rethought your digital marketing techniques in the past few years, now is the time to do so. Growth focused manufacturers are taking a page from the consumer marketing playbook, prioritizing customer acquisition tactics and branded experiences in their own B2B way.

Joe Anzalone, VP, Salesforce Technology, on Customer Centrality: One of the most important things to always keep in mind is why you are making all of these changes and decisions: ultimately, to serve your customers. Offering online B2B transactions will not only improve your customer relationships, but will also lower your cost of serving them.

Shift7 Digital collaborates with manufacturers to help educate them about the changing landscape, including analyzing their digital presence, integrating their brand experience across platforms and streamlining their digital properties. For more on how Shift7 Digital is helping some of the biggest names in manufacturing elevate their digital presence, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

 

About Shift7 Digital
Shift7 Digital is revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers and their customers. Backed by a team of experts with deep industry insights, Shift7 truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing the B2B market today and delivers a customized, yet prescriptive process for partnering with companies as they evolve from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Shift7 is modernizing manufacturing to help businesses transform through digital marketing to drive connections, commerce and revenue. For more information, visit http://www.shift7digital.com.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Remember the good ol’ days of dial-up internet? Doo-de-doooo, bleep-bloop, scratch, scratch, ding! You know what I’m talking about.

A lot has changed since then. Now the internet is omnipresent. It’s with us in our pockets, on our nightstands, at the grocery store, in our cars. We don’t hear it, it’s just there. It’s changed the way we shop, work, travel, communicate—it’s completely changed the way we live. 

For this reason, businesses today have no choice but to accept it and evolve or get left behind, B2B companies – especially manufacturers included. What used to be done over fax, phone, a warehouse sale, for instance—has now gone digital. And without a solid ecommerce strategy in place, manufacturers risk losing potential customers and will definitely lose sales.  If they continue this way for too long and they’ll become as obsolete as those modem screeches of the 90s and early 2000s.

What’s more, manufacturers face a number of digital disruptors. Private label brands are coming onto the market via resellers and distributors. Behemoths like Amazon and Alibaba are also launching their own product lines that compete with those of manufacturers. All of these things pressure the manufacturer to do something different for revenue generation.

The good news? There are as many ways to optimize your ecommerce capabilities as there are disruptive forces in the marketplace. It starts with understanding your business objectives and then deploying the right tactics to achieve them. It could be a B2B portal, a configure price quote application, a mobile experience for your sales team—it could even be a direct-to-consumer website where you can sell your products directly. You don’t have to be a disruptor, you just have to get started.

And the best part? It doesn’t have to be hard. Let a digital agency like Shift7 be your guide.

Interested in getting started? Connect with us at Shift7Digital.com/contact-us.

 

Plus, continue to follow along with our Future Proof video series to learn more about how manufacturers can thrive in a digital world.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

There is one disruptor we have not talked about yet: Mike Tyson. He disrupted the pay-per-view industry back in June 1997 when he bit off a part of Evander Holyfield’s ear. What became known as the “Bite Fight” generated 1.99 million PPV buys. Holy Shift!

When it comes to going digital, if you don’t move fast enough, you might get knocked out, too.

And I got news for you: the technology is the easy part. If you’ve been following along with this series, what I hope you’ve learned is that digital transformation is all about the experience. Culture change, corporate agility, and the ability to change with your customers are key to sustainability and growth. Which means you’ve got to ask yourself the tough questions.

At this point, I hope you’ve answered these key questions about your digital maturity. If not, here’s your chance:

 

  • Have you established a digital strategy for your company?
  • Do you understand your user experience and your customers and where you can find them online?
  • Are you effectively managing content for your web properties?
  • Is your product information management system up to par?
  • Do you know how to get started with ecommerce, supporting your resellers, distributors, sales agents, and even selling direct to your consumers?
  • Are you leveraging digital marketing to drive more users to your web properties?

 

Future-proofing your company is not just about the tech. Like I said earlier, it’s about the experience. It’s about laying the foundation and developing a solid business model that will stand the test of time—or at least the next five to ten years.

 

Don’t get knocked out. Don’t get left behind. It’s time to get on the path forward. Let Shift7 be your guide.

Interested in getting started? Connect with us at Shift7Digital.com/contact-us.

 

Holy What?

The world of B2B manufacturing is changing—ready or not. But if this has you thinking, “holy sh*t!” don’t worry—you’re not alone. SHIFT7 Digital is here to bring the world’s leading manufacturers into the future. In each episode of the Future Proof series, our team of experts will walk you through how you can take control of your digital experiences, start to finish. From creating a roadmap to understanding your customers and everything in between, this series will take you from “holy $#*!t” to “holy shift.” Welcome to the path forward.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.

Remember the good ol’ days of dial-up internet? Doo-de-doooo, bleep-bloop, scratch, scratch, ding! You know what I’m talking about.

A lot has changed since then. Now the internet is omnipresent. It’s with us in our pockets, on our nightstands, at the grocery store, in our cars. We don’t hear it, it’s just there. It’s changed the way we shop, work, travel, communicate—it’s completely changed the way we live. 

For this reason, businesses today have no choice but to accept it and evolve or get left behind, B2B companies – especially manufacturers included. What used to be done over fax, phone, a warehouse sale, for instance—has now gone digital. And without a solid ecommerce strategy in place, manufacturers risk losing potential customers and will definitely lose sales.  If they continue this way for too long and they’ll become as obsolete as those modem screeches of the 90s and early 2000s.

What’s more, manufacturers face a number of digital disruptors. Private label brands are coming onto the market via resellers and distributors. Behemoths like Amazon and Alibaba are also launching their own product lines that compete with those of manufacturers. All of these things pressure the manufacturer to do something different for revenue generation.

The good news? There are as many ways to optimize your ecommerce capabilities as there are disruptive forces in the marketplace. It starts with understanding your business objectives and then deploying the right tactics to achieve them. It could be a B2B portal, a configure price quote application, a mobile experience for your sales team—it could even be a direct-to-consumer website where you can sell your products directly. You don’t have to be a disruptor, you just have to get started.

And the best part? It doesn’t have to be hard. Let a digital agency like Shift7 be your guide.

Interested in getting started? Connect with us at Shift7Digital.com/contact-us.

 

Plus, continue to follow along with our Future Proof video series to learn more about how manufacturers can thrive in a digital world.

B2B Digital Experts

We partner with the world’s leading B2B manufacturers and distributors to build incredible digital experiences.

Lincoln Electric

A unified experience to serve a global audience and multiple brands.

USG

Bringing a 100-year-old construction products manufacturer into the digital age.

Melissa & Doug

Enabling self-service B2B eCommerce for long-tail retail customers.