Tag e-commerce

Tag e-commerce

The Top 3 Business Trends for Manufacturers in 2017

December 16, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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The new year is fast approaching, which means it’s the perfect time to look ahead and start gearing up for 2017. We’re predicting that next year will continue to bring fundamental shifts to manufacturing business operations, thanks to technology.

Here are the top three business trends manufacturers should address to improve profits, drive customer retention and stay ahead of the competition in 2017.

1. The relative value of the aftermarket

Manufacturers of industrial-grade equipment have a continual revenue stream problem—it can be years or even decades before customers need to replace a full piece of machinery, and profit margins are tight on these capital equipment sales. On the other hand, selling aftermarket parts is a high-margin, long-term revenue stream.

drill machine parts

Economic studies show that spare parts and aftermarket sales comprise almost 8% of the GDP, meaning about $1 trillion is spent a year on assets that are already owned. Big money is made through ongoing sales of replacement parts and service products. Who is best positioned to sell these products, if not the OEM?

What may surprise you is that OEMs traditionally capture less than 50% of aftermarket part sales. Instead, most of this market share is captured by third party resellers, will-fitters and other suppliers.

This is a huge missed opportunity. By taking steps to increase these aftermarket sales using technology and other resources, companies can see their profits grow exponentially this upcoming year.

2. It’s time to move more sales online

The internet’s broad use by consumers and businesses has dramatically changed how people gather information and make purchases. And the expectation of equipment owners to be able to research and buy parts online is only going to continue to grow in the future.
an with credit card online shopping

Manufacturers have a unique opportunity over the next few years to streamline aftermarket sales with online parts catalogs and flexible purchasing options.

Brand loyalty may be dying in the consumer retail arena, but OEMs have a distinct advantage when it comes to enhancing the buyer experience. With access to exclusive customer data, comprehensive product knowledge, and more precise parts information, manufacturers have a head start on making a “sticky” online sales platform.

While bargain hunters will always exist, modern shoppers have proven that they will pay for convenience and quality, elements that OEMs are uniquely poised to provide.

Providing online parts sales and information is one of the quickest paths to increase revenue and customer satisfaction. The digital shift means that buyers expect real time information with immediate access. Soon (and by “soon” we mean now), a bulky paper catalog accompanied by a parts desk phone number isn’t going to cut it.

3. Internet of Things (IoT)

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Where do people, data and intelligent machines intersect and how is it going to change the world? According to IDC, IoT spending is expected to skyrocket in the next few years, from $656 billion in 2014, to $1.7 trillion in 2020.

And there’s a good reason for it. IoT can make services more responsive, convenient and efficient for consumers. This is true for industrial IoT (IIoT) as well. Most new heavy equipment includes telematics capabilities, with sensors installed on key systems, whether operators choose to use them or not.

Some companies are using these systems to shift asset maintenance from a preventative to predictive model. Downtime is one of the costliest variables in equipment lifecycle costs, and IoT can play a key role in diminishing it.

Instead of guessing the condition of equipment and replacing parts on a predetermined schedule, maintenance can instead be triggered by real-time conditions monitored by sensors installed in the machine. This may seem like a small change, but significant dollars can be saved by not replacing parts that don’t need it, and by optimizing downtime and reducing unplanned work stoppages.

For manufacturers, think of the benefits gained from this type of data, and how customers can be encouraged to buy aftermarket parts from an OEM. With IoT and accurate data, you can predict a customer’s needs and have parts and supplies ready and in stock. And by integrating this data into your online parts catalog, you could send the customer a reminder email with a suggested shopping cart that includes the needed parts.

This is an exciting time to be in the manufacturing business and use technology to increase customer satisfaction and revenue. By integrating streamlined aftermarket parts sales, data and online capabilities into your overall strategy, your business can jump to the next level in 2017.

5 Ways Documoto Beats Retail for Online Sales

May 13, 2016 Tags: , , , ,
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Digabit’s customers make heavy equipment and complex machinery, and the Documoto SaaS helps them get product information online in the form of parts catalogs and other technical support documentation. After identifying the parts they need, dealers and other end users can order parts directly from the OEM using Documoto’s integrated shopping cart.

Why should manufacturing companies use a purpose-built solution like Documoto to display and sell parts, rather than more commonly known platforms like Amazon or similar retail-oriented sales platforms?

1. Responsive Design

Dealers, service technicians and customers are increasingly using mobile devices to do everything online, from looking up and ordering parts to viewing repair procedure videos. Over 50% of Internet traffic now originates on mobile, and the trend is likely to continue. An online storefront for manufacturers must not only adapt to smaller screens, it must display interactive illustrations and the complicated relationships between parts and machines. Documoto’s user interface is built on HTML5 and designed to provide a superior user experience whether on desktop or tablet.

2. Permissions

When users visit and order from retail websites, a consumer is a consumer is a consumer. There may be automated personalization of product offerings or the like, but fundamentally all users are treated the same. Manufacturers, on the other hand, have more complicated distribution networks that require access and permission controls that determine what content a visitor can see, what pricing structure to display, and so on. In this regard, eCommerce sites built for consumers are basically “one-size-fits-all.” Documoto has powerful administrative controls that let manufacturers define user groups and organizations, and limit information access according to user role.

3. Search

Imagine you have built hundreds of different models of machines over the last several decades. Each machine has several thousand parts, some unique and some shared between models. Large manufactures literally must manage millions of both obsolete and currently produced parts. It’s easy to see the importance of a powerful search tool like SOLR, the leading open source search engine that is built into Documoto. B2B buyers may need to search by model number, serial number, keyword, or part number in order to find that one specific component, and retail sites just can’t do it.

4. Detailed, Accurate Product Content

Retail sites designed around B2C needs are limited in the types of images and information they can display. In general, they cannot properly show complex illustrations and accompanying parts lists, or associate and display a wide variety of non-native document types. Documoto lets manufacturers show essential product data along with parts information. Images, 3D animations, repair videos, essentially anything that a customer or service tech might need to complete their desired tasks. Giving buyers highly detailed product data greatly reduces ordering errors and makes them want to come back again. And the ability to create direct integrations between Documoto and CAD or ERP offers the capability for real-time updates when part numbers, prices or other data is updated by the manufacturer.

5. Alternate Payment Options

The majority of manufacturers still don’t sell directly to consumers or end users, but have dealers, distributors or other affiliates who are responsible for service and parts delivery. Many of these B2B relationships still require purchase orders, requests for quotes, or other custom-tailored ordering and invoicing processes. For consumer sites, flexible payment options mean credit cards, online check drafts and perhaps PayPal. There’s no need to look for an RFQ or P.O. radio button, because it isn’t there. Documoto allows manufacturers to customize shopping cart payment options based on their existing business processes, minimizing disruption and maximizing efficiency.

If you’re a manufacturer who needs to upgrade your online presence, sell more parts, and keep customers coming back for more, check out the Documoto suite of tools today. If you want to see Digabit’s industry-leading solution in action, request a no-obligation demo for the full story.

Easily Create Online Parts Catalogs for SMBs

April 15, 2016 Tags: , ,
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Many small and medium-sized manufacturing companies can benefit from offering illustrated parts catalogs on the web. Increased sales of parts and supplies, better customer support, and higher levels of customer satisfaction are some of the results seen by Digabit customers who implement the Documoto suite of tools.

With these companies in mind, Digabit recently developed a new publishing package that achieves rapid results. We call it Quick Start Publishing, and it offers a low barrier to entry for companies that would like to upgrade their technical publishing capabilities.

Documoto’s Quick Start package gets your parts catalogs online in 30 days or less!

Quickstart Publishing gives you the proven cloud-based architecture and database-driven functionality of a modern SaaS platform. Once your content is loaded into the database, you can dynamically create a variety of catalog formats in a snap.

  • Dramatically reduce publishing time
  • Upgrade catalog usability with powerful search and real-time updates
  • Eliminate manual formatting and tedious cut-and-paste

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One of the best features of Quick Start is that you can add increased functionality as your needs change, from eCommerce to ERP integration. Click to download the Quick Start Publishing data sheet now and find out all the details.

Documoto Update Gives Manufacturers Insight Into eCommerce Orders

December 7, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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The Documoto platform has proven its ability to save users time and money during the parts lookup and ordering process. Now it’s even more powerful, with the addition of new features that help Digabit clients provide better customer service and increase aftermarket sales. Documoto’s latest update expands its user-friendly functionality with improved eCommerce order management.

The new Order Management interface is highly customizable for administrators, giving them the ability to format order confirmations and emails, as well as define order status, shipping and payment options.

New HTML5 interface for manufacturing eCommerce software Documoto

Order Management Highlights for End Users:

• Users can view and search previous order history
Status notifications let buyers know where their order is in the fulfillment process
Duplicate past orders to save time on frequently ordered items

Highlights for Administrators:

Flexible administrative tools help tailor the fulfillment process to your desired workflow
• Edit and manage parts, prices and order statuses from within Order Management, or integrate with ERP to automate data exchange and enable real-time updates
• Shopping cart information can be transmitted from Documoto to ERP, or vice versa, so sales data is synchronized and stored in one location

The Order Management module’s new HTML5 interface is extremely easy to navigate for dealers and other users, so transitioning to a new sales process should be almost seamless! If you’d like an overview of the new features, check out this webinar preview presented by Digabit’s Product Manager, Eric Lanier. Click this link for the full text of Documoto 2015.4 release notes.

For more information about Order Management or to set up a demo, contact Digabit sales.

Best Practices: Executing an After Sale Web Library and eCommerce Platform

June 19, 2015 Tags: , , ,
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The market for Equipment Manufacturer’s (EMs) and OEM products is constantly evolving due to newer industry regulations and technologies. Many companies have difficulty adapting to these changes, while others look forward to meeting any challenges head on. EMs and OEMs can maximize their productivity, drive the top line and stay competitive by embracing technologies such as Documoto.

Documoto is a powerful publishing platform with a Cloud Library and available Cloud Storefront for managing your company’s product offerings, parts catalogs, and vital documentation. With a streamlined and automated approach, your dealers and customers with be able to stay up-to-date with the latest content on maintaining your equipment.

Using the expertise of Digabit’s Professional Services team, we simplify your content migration process by bringing together all of your PDFs, parts catalogs, images, and more into a unified publishing solution. Documoto enables EMs and OEMs to radically shift the content creation and updating paradigm by inverting the perception of a cost center to monetizing both legacy and new content, allowing your customers to easily browse and order parts instantly.

To get the most out of your Documoto implementation, here are four best practices you should embrace that will save time and reduce excessive costs:

1. Integrate with EAM/ERP

By integrating Documoto into an existing eCommerce solution, your customers and dealers will be able to locate and order products with greater speed and accuracy. This modernizes the parts ordering process and translates to getting products quickly, decreasing equipment downtime.

Though integrating Documoto into your existing system adds far more efficiency, the approach is not intended to overhaul the platform you’ve grown accustomed to. With our inline approach, the order is exported directly into your existing EAM/ERP system continuing to leverage the purchase forms you’ve already set up.

Documoto users have realized substantial efficiency with the entire ordering process. ERP integration is not mandatory, but can be included as an add-on feature that yields great value. The benefit of integrating with your ERP solution is to continuously keep price and availability up-to-date with both systems bi-directionally.

2. Assign User Privileges and Access Control

Documoto allows you to retain total control over every bit of content in your system. By assigning user privileges, you will be able to give your managerial staff access while overseeing every level of your parts-ordering process and system.

Assigning user privileges and access controls to specific documents based on the user’s role allows you to achieve optimal efficiency while maintaining a high degree of control and security. With the use of single sign-on, a user will only be prompted to log in once to access all parts on the platform offering an unparalleled seamless user experience.

3. Manage Parts Evolution

With Documoto, you will be able to instantly update information on after sale parts, eliminating outdated data immediately and allowing you to preserve accurate records of every part in your catalog(s). Along with updating part information, you can add tags to the part(s), making them easily searchable based on defined criteria.

Documoto also offers supersessions with Engineering Change Orders (ECOs), notices and requests while easily updating the data in all instances of the parts manuals. By taking advantage of these features, you can maintain a parts catalog that is both continuously up-to-date and quickly searchable, thereby driving customer satisfaction and topline growth.

4. Track User Data

Your data is by far one of your company’s most powerful assets. However, with a traditional parts catalog, it is impossible to realize the full value of customer interaction and utilize data to its full capacity and potential.

With Documoto, you will be able to track various user interactions such as: when users last logged in, their identities, browsing patterns, materials read and much more. This valuable data will allow you to fine-tune your approach and make powerful information-driven decisions moving forward in the virtual world.

There is also the added benefit of user adoptability analytics, which will allow you to make more informed decisions about how customers and dealers leverage Documoto and what to changes should be instituted.

Adopting new technologies always involves a degree of adjustment. These four best practices allow you to see substantial benefits in record time. Contact the Digabit staff with any questions about this innovative process.

 Watch the Documoto overview video

How OEMs Can Reduce Costs and Increase Sales with eCommerce Strategies

April 24, 2015 Tags: , ,
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Since the end of the recession, manufacturers have enjoyed a strong surge in growth, with many believing their companies will continue to see expansion in the near future, according to the Industry Market Barometer from ThomasNet. But with this level of growth comes the need to ensure operations can keep up with current and future customer demands.

Not all original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are making the most of their current market positions to boost sales and reduce costs. With competition from other distributors and aftermarket dealers, OEMs need to actively promote e-commerce strategies to keep operational costs from inhibiting growth potential.

Employ uniformity across all channels

Industrial Distribution Magazine noted that OEMs work with a variety of other companies throughout the supply chain, which can make it difficult to have a single message or brand. When potential buyers look for a specific service or product, they typically begin their search online – increasingly via their smartphones or tablets. However, 61 percent of people will leave a website for another if they can’t immediately find what they’re looking for.

“By packaging parts together, OEMs can get rid of low-value parts that are typically hard to sell.”

Further, buyers want to see a uniform experience when interacting with OEMs, as opposed to having to deal with a number of different representatives or dealers. By having a streamlined strategy across the supply chain, manufacturers can create a browsing experience that will lead buyers directly to the parts they seek.

Every webpage, mobile app and parts catalog viewable by customers needs to present the same information in an easy-to-follow fashion. With e-commerce conformity, there is less physical work to do on the part of sales teams because buyers will already be further along in the buying process, negating time-consuming parts searches and phone calls. This can help minimize downtime and free up financial resources.

Expedite the sales process

Some of the largest challenges facing OEMs are the complex shipping, pricing and inventory management processes, according to Practical Ecommerce. Equipment must be shipped through a number of channels before it finally reaches its destination. Orders that are highly customized or require excess assembly are even more time-consuming and difficult to produce and ship. And because OEMs must face the reality of aftermarket dealers pricing their products lower, it’s crucial to ensure OEM parts are optimized within the appropriate price range.

These factors can cause backlogs, slow parts ordering and potential overstock in warehouses, all of which lead to reduced operational efficiency. E-commerce can mitigate these pain points if employed successfully.

With electronic parts catalogs, OEMs provide buyers with an open-access portal to locate parts in real time. Warehouses, shipping companies and distribution networks can all have access to the same portal, which helps track the location, availability and eventual destination center of each individual part. This e-commerce approach expedites the sales process by moving the orders more rapidly, completing sales sooner.

At every stop and handover, OEMs can save money because orders are ensured greater accuracy through the electronic system. This reduces gaps in shipping and eliminates the need for re-orders.

Promote upsell opportunities

Buyers are not always aware of the promotions available to them, and sometimes they’re even unsure of the exact specs they need. This provides a great opportunity for OEMs to upsell products and offer parts that may have contained less value, according to Manufacturing Business Technology.

With user-friendly indexed catalogs, online discounts and greater interactivity, buyers are more likely to purchase parts that they may not have otherwise. By packaging parts together, OEMs can also get rid of low-value parts that are typically hard to sell.

To reap the rewards of this e-commerce strategy, OEMs have to make promotions accessible to buyers, which is why websites and parts books should always include easy-to-locate incentives.

Cut down abandonment rates

By capitalizing on analytics, e-commerce can serve as an entirely new stream of revenue. The problem is that only 13 percent of companies implement new changes to their business by looking at historical data, as Shopify reported. While the analytical tools are out there, OEMs can do more to take advantage of them, especially in the field of e-commerce, which lends itself well to updated tracking of buyer behaviors and online activity.

Instead of simply looking at page views, duration of visits and other common e-commerce tracking measurements, OEMs should focus more explicitly on items like cart abandonment. In some cases, buyers find the info they need but they don’t follow through with the ordering process and abandon their online cart.

Manufacturing.net indicated that abandonment can be reduced by expanding parts catalog options and incorporating video tutorials, how-to guides and other helpful features. By nudging potential buyers in the right direction instead of allowing them to simply drop off, OEMs can secure higher returns on each part and product.

This strategy helps OEMs redirect more time and resources to committed buyers while also turning skeptical customers into loyalists. Instead of investing heavily in strategies that may not pay off, OEMs can use their money more efficiently and solidify the customer base of those that are already interested in their products and services.

OEMs that actively engage buyers online are better positioned to expand in the future, as more business is routinely being conducted over the Internet. Not only can OEMs save money on daily operational and administrative tasks by relying on e-commerce, but they can also increase profits as well.

 Data Sheet - Easily integrate ERP systems with Documoto

Working with International Dealers: Strengthening Lines of Communication

February 9, 2015 Tags: , ,
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Time zone differences and language barriers can easily strain the manufacturer/dealer relationship. According to a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 90% of corporate executives believe that their company’s profits and market share would significantly increase if cross-border communication improved.

As a company that not only caters to OEMs with a broad base of international dealers, but also works with our own resellers in Spain, we’ve learned that doing business globally comes with its own set of challenges.

Here are a few ideas we’ve found useful in strengthening the lines of international communication:

Use Tools to Conquer the Time Zone Challenge

It’s important to keep time zones in mind when planning for dealer support. Many organizations elect to extend the hours of their operations to accommodate global schedules, but this approach can be costly.

According to Circadian Technologies Inc., U.S. businesses lose $206 billion each year due to factors related to extended-hours operations, including lost productivity, high absenteeism, greater turnover, higher health-care costs and more accidents on the job.

Rather than making your customer service available around the clock to answer calls or email inquiries from your dealers in Europe or Asia, establish a system for dealers to get direct access to the information they need quickly. This could be in the form of a local representative or an online parts lookup system like Documoto.

Enhance Customer Readiness

Self-service technologies can be a game-changer for customer service. These solutions give customers the power and independence to immediately answer their own questions. The Yankee Group found that responding to a phone call, chat or email costs a company $5 to $7 on average, whereas online self-service inquiries run less than 60 cents a piece.

One way manufacturers can offer self-service is by enabling dealers to find pricing and part availability on their own. When illustrated parts catalogs are accessible 24/7, dealers can search for the information they need, when they need it.

For international dealers in particular, electronic parts catalogs can be the key to ordering the right part. When EPCs are backed by a dynamic, relational database like Documoto, manufacturers can instantly update part information across the system. This means every dealer, whether they’re in Alabama or Austria, will be up-to-date on part changes.

Take Language Into Account

In a 2006 survey by Common Sense Advisory, nearly 60% of consumers said the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

While using a translation service on all your technical documentation may be impossible (and could cause more problems than it solves), providing a dealer interface in multiple languages is a great solution to bridge the language gap.

To facilitate our customers’ international relations, Documoto comes standard in 16 different languages so all parties can intuitively navigate to important information.

Offer Online Ordering

We’ve seen first-hand from our prospects just how much communication delays can slow down order processing. Ecommerce can eliminate the time zone problem and keep all orders in the same streamlined format, simplifying the global exchange of information.

Linking dealer self-service to online parts orders can drastically boost aftermarket sales, allowing international dealers to go straight from researching a repair to buying the necessary parts with just a few clicks. Dealers can order at their convenience, and manufacturers will receive the order in the same template every time.

As Tim Hultzapple at Zimmerman Industries explains, “Due to language and time zone differences, we used to experience communication delays while trying to figure out which parts our international distributors needed. Now, our dealers can quickly respond to RFQs because they have direct access to pricing on Documoto’s visual, localized interface.”

What solutions have you found to strengthen your international communication with dealers? Share your story in the comments below.

 Watch the Documoto overview video

Overcoming the Content Challenge to Drive E-Commerce

December 29, 2014 Tags: ,
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Over this past year I have noticed several manufacturers beginning projects around e-commerce. I recently came across the article “The Content Challenge” by Anna Wells in the December issue of Industrial Distribution Magazine. Some manufacturers that I have spoken to over the past year have already had an e-commerce system in place. But as Wells’ article suggests, a manufacturer has to have the content in a way that customers can find what they are looking for. I have observed that without the content these e-commerce systems are not successful.
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