By Ryan Frye, Client Success Analyst, Documoto

Digitize to WinIt’s no secret, manufacturing is changing.

Incorporating digital best practices like working from a relational database, providing real-time information to employees and customers, and improving the customer experience through online sales will determine those who can beat the odds over the next decade.

What’s Changed in Manufacturing

We live in a digital economy, with the ability to purchase anything online with just a few clicks of a button.

Online shopping was once thought of as a consumer-only space. However, with pandemics and politics determining our every move, it is crucial to have a digital footprint in order to succeed.

As an example, below are several statistics to back up this change in purchasing preferences.

The above set of statistics proves just how critical incorporating a digital strategy can be – even for manufacturers. “Buyers” (whether it’s dealers or customers) want to be able to purchase products and get the information they need, when they need a machine part. And they want their experience to be effortless and easy.

Any company that elects not to do this is going to face a much shorter life expectancy.

Optimizing Operations

How much time do your employees spend searching for information, making changes, or fixing errors from inaccurate information?

Outside of some of the biggest companies, manufacturing today remains mostly a “pencil and paper” industry. This type of mentality has a significant impact on how productive your business can be. It leads to departments working in silos, not sharing changes, updates, or tribal knowledge that could be useful for all staff members.

Obviously, this type of scenario is very inefficient.

You have departments all over, working on different documents and outdated information, which can lead to a disruption or extension of a sale or selling the wrong part.

Take care of this disconnect and optimize your internal operations.

Start by getting everyone using the same database to store their documents, manuals, reference notes, and training materials. Using a web-based relational database allows everyone to be connected and work off of the same information. It will not only impact your engineers, but it will also allow your field techs and customer service reps to access up-to-date parts information.

Having instant access to real-time information will increase your bottom line.

End Users Have More Power Than Ever

When making purchases, customers want quality, at a low cost, delivered to their site or storefront quickly.

Manufacturers in the past have relied on dealer networks or conducted business over the phone. While there will still be businesses where this works, more and more customers want to access information and order their parts online.

A recent American Express study found that more than 6 in 10 consumers say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool. Shifting your mindset to a customer-focused online storefront will help you gain loyalty and sell more aftermarket parts.

Additional studies have shown that about one trillion dollars a year are spent on parts for machinery people already own. What may surprise you is that OEMs capture less than 50% of this market currently.

There is no one in a better position to sell your parts than you. You have a distinct advantage when it comes to enhancing the buyer experience. You also have access to exclusive customer data, comprehensive product knowledge, and more precise parts information.

Parts sales is a market that is sitting there for the taking and can provide a long-term steady stream of revenue after the initial purchase of equipment. While there will always be some people who only want a bargain, shoppers have proven that they will pay for convenience and quality, which OEMs can provide.

The companies that are going to thrive and overtake their competition are the ones that recognize the opportunities available and incorporate technology into their operations and sales. By creating a strategy early, you will be able to get a jump on the market and leave everyone else in the dust.

Ryan Frye is the client success analyst for Documoto, an AEM member company that seeks to provide innovative software solutions for equipment manufacturers, their dealer network, and their equipment owners to keep the world’s machines working. 

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