The report “Driving digital commerce in manufacturing,” based on a survey of 200 marketing decision makers in manufacturing businesses across the US, UK, and Germany, finds that almost 9 in 10 (87%) of respondents are now facing more competition compared to a year ago. In fact, 22% of those are facing significantly more competition.
The pressure to stay ahead is affecting the majority of businesses in the industry; 88% admitting they have changed their business model to compete in current market conditions.
Being fast, being agile
The biggest challenges when launching a new product to market are gathering product information (27%), followed by technological limitations (20%). Gathering the right product information is most challenging across the electricals and electronic sector (32%).
The time it takes to create and update product information was also identified as a top-three issue by 51% of respondents. It was also the number one challenge, coming before managing stakeholders and localizing information.
Although 92% of respondents agreed that they can quickly update their product information, almost two-thirds (63%) stated that product information problems often cause delays or product withdrawals.
“The pressure to get products to market quickly has been accelerated by the current economic climate and show no signs of slowing down,” said Thomas Zanzinger, CEO at inRiver. “Product information is a business’s digital front door, so ensuring it’s accurate and appropriate across all channels is critical for manufacturers to drive revenue and loyalty in such a competitive marketplace.”
Diverse routes to market
The growing complexity of product information and the pressure to keep up with the competition is leading manufacturers to turn to automation and artificial intelligence to speed up processes. 90% of respondents agree that product information task automation is increasing and 95% say they use automation and AI to tailor product information for different channels.
Technology is also being applied to support new types of product information, with over a third (38%) of businesses surveyed using videos to sell products and 36% using virtual or augmented reality. Of those using product videos, 32% say that it is their most successful content for driving sales, and 72% placed it in their top three drivers.
A successful product information approach combines flexibility, speed, and intelligence. It can effectively handle the right content for both the product and the customer’s needs while providing flexibility to try new avenues and innovations.
“Businesses are now moving very fast in using innovative technology, rich media, and new channels to bring products to market,” says Stefano Brandinali, chief digital officer, Prysmian Group. “However, moving at speed is only effective if manufacturers can operate freely across different channels and types of product information with confidence and agility, to optimize results.”
Meeting customer needs drives conversion
The improvement of an organization’s conversion rate online is a key priority. When asked what would help with this critical goal, respondents ranked product information technologies number one. Other priorities to drive improvements included:
- Easier comparison with competitors’ offerings (54%)
- Reviews and visual user-generated content (53%)
- Visualizations, such as 3D images and virtual reality (47%)
Improving trust in products is the biggest driver for maximizing conversion rates (28%), just ahead of helping people see and experience the product better.
Zanzinger concludes, “Providing customers with a service and experience that generates trust will deliver long term repeat revenue, driving business growth and success. Revenue is at risk when customers don’t trust manufacturers’ product information, with almost half (49%) of our respondents agreeing that customers are often dissatisfied by products not being as expected. Over half (52%) report losing repeat customers for the same reason.”
To learn more about the data behind the report and the state of B2B manufacturing, join the webinar with guest speaker from Forrester on April 28th “New Baselines for B2B Manufacturing.”
This survey was conducted by Vanson Bourne in February and March 2021. Insights were collected from 200 marketing decision-makers in manufacturing businesses across the US, UK, and Germany. Sectors included chemicals, automotive, and furniture, with over half in businesses seeing over a billion dollars in annual revenue.
Vanson Bourne is an independent specialist in market research for the technology sector. Their reputation for robust and credible research-based analysis is founded upon rigorous research principles and their ability to seek the opinions of senior decision-makers across technical and business functions, in all business sectors and all major markets.
inRiver empowers organizations to deliver revenue-driving product information at every touchpoint. inRiver’s Digital-first PIM™ enables organizations to bring compelling product stories to life for highly customized purchases, obtain actionable guidance on what influences buying decisions, and then quickly adapt to put insights into action. inRiver helps B2B and B2C organizations turn product information into strategic assets to drive revenue for over 1,500 brands and 600 customers globally. Headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, inRiver has offices in Chicago and Amsterdam. For more information, visit inRiver.com.