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The Future was Yesterday

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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. 

  1. UX — Essentially, keeping your customers happy by offering an easy and convenient User Experience.
  2. Analytics — Using data to drive continual improvement of your UX and achieve business outcomes.
  3. CRM —Using Customer Relationship Management technologies to ultimately drive sales and customer retention.
  4. CMS — Creating and managing content that your customers want using the technology of a Content Management System.
  5. PIM — Managing product information via a Product Information Management system, allowing you to market and sell products easier and in more channels.
  6. eCommerce — Selling your product online. This. Is. Crucial.
  7. 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.

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