Three Ways a Self-Service eCatalog Helps You and Your Resellers

Del Merenda

When informing component manufacturers about the financial benefits of offering self-service product discovery-and-selection on their websites, we sometimes get the response – “we sell through distributors, so we don’t see the benefits of offering advanced self-service product selection¹ and sales lead capture on our website.”

Although we hear this response less often now, it is not surprising, since more than seventy percent (70%) of durable components are sold through distribution. However, even though most component manufacturers are joined at the hip with resellers, they are investing in web self-service at a record pace.

The most stated reasons for their aggressive new marketing shift are:

  • Their resellers no longer see the Internet as a force for disintermediation;
  • OEM buyers pro-actively visit manufacturers’ websites for the latest product innovations;
  • Search engines drive prospective new buyers to manufacturers’ websites – not the resellers’;
  • Buyers expect the manufacturer’s website will provide self-service product selection; and
  • Manufacturers’ websites auto-route buyers to local resellers that stock the selected products.
The advantages that web-self-service brings to your reseller channel program are:

1. Capture new buyers/OEMs in markets around the globe

Global OEM buyers use search engines 24/7 to uncover the latest product technology, performance specs and configurations to meet their new product design/development needs. Make sure they find your products, and submit RFQs that you can auto-route to a local reseller.

2. Send more qualified buyers to your distributors than does your competition

Feed sales leads and RFQs instantly and automatically to your resellers then track response rates and sales results. Plus, resellers also favor manufacturers that offer intuitive web self-service. Their CSRs use it while speaking with callers and when the buyer has been redirected from a manufacturer’s intelligent website, well-informed and more ready to buy. Gain greater reseller’ loyalty by proving your commitment to them.

3. Support your small-to-mid-sized distributors (who do not use EDI) with a Distributor Portal

A distributor portal allows your distributors to log-in and see their designated list of resellable products with their negotiated prices. They can check inventory, place orders and get order delivery status – all in real time. They can process returns and you can post up your latest marketing and operations material for each distributor.

The financial downside of manufacturers not offering intuitive web-self-service is severe. Internet technology has developed at a lightning pace over the past five years and early-adopting manufacturers have leveraged their user-friendly online marketing advantage to win business away from those still toying with the idea. In addition, b2b component buyers are hooked on self-service. If they arrive at your website, they expect you to offer self-guided product selection as well. If not, they click-off and move-on. Your reseller may still make the sale (but of your competitor’s product).

If you agree that 93% of b2b component buyers and specifiers are searching online for your products, then you need to offer web-self-service! Whether the visitor is ready to buy or not, you will lock them in for your reseller and for you by providing them with the detailed information they need to select your products. The Internet is a force for change that can grow your market share and reduce costs. You will need to use it to identify interested new customers for your hungry resellers. When you give them the path of least resistance to a new sale, it drives home your value to them and drives up their sales of your products.

¹Web-self-service is made possible by adding user-assisting utilities to your website, such as: an interactive eCatalog; product configurator; product selection wizards and calculators; Upsell/cross-sell; side-by-side comparisons; CAD view/download; RFQ submission; online selling, etc., all of which are offered by i-MARK.

Del Merenda

President & CEO
i-MARK, Inc.

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About i-MARK

i-MARK is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Company providing Web-Based Interactive Product Selection, Configuration and Sales Automation to Industrial Businesses.


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