In the past you were able to buy Ford’s T Model in every color you liked, as long as that color was black. A well known example of the luxury position the manufacturing industry of that time was in. By now times have changed, and as a manufacturer you are forced to serve an increasing amount of niches. And the customers for these niches are becoming more and more demanding. In this blog you will find out why you cannot work without online solutions in this situation.
Jan, the founder of Elfsquad, used to work at a machine factory. Here, they developed a hydraulic block that was suitable for a number of tractor brands. Until one of these brands suddenly decided to introduce a new system. In turn, the machine factory was forced to adjust their hydraulic block which cost a lot of time and money.
You see this happening everywhere in the industry. Customers are becoming more demanding, and big manufacturers adjust themselves to meet these demands. The same goes for SMEs: you cannot escape the need for variance in your product range. On one hand that is nice, but on the other hand it does become more and more complicated to sell your products.
Imagine you sell pizzas with two different ingredients: cheese and salami. You would be able to sell three kinds of pizza: one with cheese, one with salami, and one with cheese and salami. If you expand to five ingredients, this will turn to 50 possible pizzas. If you expand to ten ingredients, we’re looking at 1000 possible combinations.
When you project this example onto the manufacturing industry, you will understand why you cannot miss automation. You’re working with hundreds of options and variables, resulting in a billion possible variations. It is impossible to sell something like that as a human, no matter how bright you might be. Automation is required. And that is not that steep at all when you turn to online solutions.
You cannot expect your dealers to know your billion variations by heart and try to sell them. They won’t even attempt it, so they often turn to you with quotations to find out if you are able to build what they have promised to the customer. This creates a lot of extra work and confusion. Additionally, you cannot expect your end user to go through the Excel sheet with all possible variations to find their ideal solution. Which is why you look for an online solution.
When you start offering your extensive product range online, you will enjoy a number of advantages.
First of all, you are in the place where customers expect to find you. Because just like in the B2C-market, potential B2B customers also orient themselves online. The farmer driving his tractor all day, automatically on GPS, will have plenty of time to look for a solution online. He does not want to visit a dealer or plow through massive catalogues. That’s not how the world works anymore: your customer expects a streamlined online solution.
On top of that such a solution also helps your dealers. For instance: if you work with an online product configurator, your dealers will be able to sell more easily. They know exactly what is- and is not possible, and what the costs are. You can count on that being much easier than the headache-inducing Excel-sheets your competitor might still be working with.
A third advantage is that you will also generate leads online. When you present your products in such a way that it is logical and attractive to your end user, and ensure that they will find your solutions first in Google, you are in an advantageous position. Their dealer visits will only concern the details, then. And should you deal with an end user from a country where you don’t have any dealers? You’ll just sell directly from your website.
Perhaps you’re asking yourself now and then what the added value of your dealers is at this point. They haul in a hefty margin, but in fact you are doing most of the work. Aftersales, service, working out the right solution. This all happens in the factory itself, so why would you still use dealers?
Because the hybrid solution simply works so well. Not only do your dealers know your end users better than you do; often a familiar face is simply very important when doing big purchases. With a sleek online presence and solution for your product range, you help your dealers to sell your products more easily. When working in that manner, everyone’s a winner.
At Elfsquad we are very proud of our CPQ software, that allows us to present even the most complex of products in an attractive way. A billion product variations? Bring it on!
Elfsquad removes all worries from your pre-production process. With Elfsquad as backbone, we realize the digital factory that smart industries have been trying to find for so long. We do this through a product configurator, with integrated solutions for marketing, sales, and operations.