5 tips for manufacturers for a better digital customer journey (with examples)

production company experience

The customer journey or customer experience has taken on a more important role in the vision of B2B organizations. professional services, IT companies and whole companies are particularly active in this regard. However, there are also more and more production companies paying more attention to optimizing the customer journey.

Customer Experience or customer journey is terminology that we mainly know from larger organizations such as Nike, the Efteling or Coolblue. Growth is visible in the use of digital tools and techniques to also improve the customer journey of B2B companies. Perhaps inspired by successful consumer brands.

Research by Sapio Research at more than 800 manufacturing companies shows that by improving the customer experience, manufacturers are working to generate new customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers. Based on the findings from the research, a number of tips to optimize the customer journey in the world of manufacturing companies.

1. Digital development as a strategic agenda item

The expectations and needs of customers are paramount in the optimal design of the customer journey. These expectations go hand in hand with technological developments and customer experiences that exist. A large part of the producing organizations recognize that strategic development is necessary, prompted by technical developments and the changing needs of prospects and customers. The corona pandemic has accelerated digital transitions.

The research also shows that these developments influence the market strategies of producing companies. 94% of the producing companies will respond to this with an adjusted market strategy in 2021.

This is also reflected in the figures surrounding the implementation of online sales channels. 57% of the production companies in the study is already active with an online sales channel, 32% is currently implementing a webshop. Of the larger production companies (with more than 1000 FTE), 47% invested in new e-commerce techniques to respond to the customer journey.

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There is therefore a clear momentum in the catching up of production companies in the B2B e-commerce field. Production companies thus have the technology at their disposal to realize the optimal design of the customer journey.

2. Customer relationships are essential

Providing the right customer experience depends on careful information provision and valuable contact moments. according to McKinsey & Company the b2b buying process is delicate. On the other hand, the online buying process is also easy to measure and adjust. This allows you to continue investing in improving the customer experience. An example of an essential element in the customer experience is the speed of the checkout process.

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Research shows that B2B buyers value quick checkout and easy repeat orders. The entire ordering process must be seamless and manufacturing companies do not invest in this without reason; 55% of the manufacturers sees the e-commerce platform as the largest source of revenue over the next three to five years.  

3. Current and relevant data as a basis

The customer experience can quickly deteriorate if customer journeys are set up based on outdated or irrelevant data. A poorly handled order can directly negatively affect the relationship between manufacturer and buyer. 35% of the manufacturers indicates that missed or lost orders are the result of unreliable e-commerce systems. The feedback from buyers shows that there is still a lot to gain here:

 44% of B2B buyers are dealing with errors in online orders even with their top 10 suppliers.

A good e-commerce solution and the right partners are therefore of great importance. Profit can be achieved by using the most recent techniques and properly integrating e-commerce software with other systems. A good example is a strong integration with ERP software so that all data is relevant and accurate in the different systems.

4. Convenience and Personalization as Key

Setting up a digital customer journey can be complex. The challenges that stand out when setting up an e-commerce process have to do with limited product data (32%) and a complicated checkout process (30%). Still, it offers a huge advantage if manufacturers are able discount structures and bulk purchase to offer online. To achieve this, integration with systems is important. Discount agreements and price scales are often fixed in ERP systems and PIM software. By seamlessly integrating it with the e-commerce platform, you can optimize a customer journey. This leads to a better purchasing experience, stronger customer relationships and more sales.

5. Dare to invest in the future

Developments are happening faster than you think. However, it is not an easy transition to launch a new channel or start working with the customer journey in a different way. It is very important to include the entire organization in the need for change. 33% of the manufacturers in the survey indicated that they encountered internal resistance to the plans for an e-commerce platform.

It usually takes more than just setting up a channel. This also requires dedication and goal-oriented activities. 55% of the manufacturers indicated that they set up an internal e-commerce team to shape a successful e-commerce project.

Focus on the customer journey for a future-proof manufacturing company

Focus on the customer journey means; attention to every step in the customer's purchasing process and offering a tailored experience around those steps. By offering a digital answer to the customer's needs in these different phases, you invest in a positive buying experience. This increases the attraction for new customers and increases the chance of satisfied customers. By optimizing the customer journey, customers become ambassadors and you benefit from this in the long term.

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