Product Management Framework
Industrial ecommerce product management is an extension of, and integrated with, traditional product management functions, scope and processes. Ecommerce platforms enable industrial companies to present their entire product portfolio in a logical, structured, searchable way to reflect the initial phase of the buying process.
Ecommerce platforms are then used to integrate Search Engine Optimized (SEO) product descriptions (short and long) and connect comprehensive documentation (technical specifications, drawings, installation and troubleshooting manuals, etc.) to each product line/product. This integrated product information package enables the industrial buyer to analyze, qualify and compare options in real time.
Regardless of whether the product is a standard “brown box,” bundled or highly engineered solution, the ecommerce platform can move the buyer closer to the buying decision. In the case of standard, bundled or packaged products, it can move the buyer to the 100% point – placing an order. In the case of configurable products, it enables the buyer to either place an order or request a confirming quote. In the case of engineered products, industrial ecommerce platforms can move the buyer to the final phase of the decision process – requesting more information, virtual contact or a face-to-face meeting.
There are three major functions of industrial ecommerce product management as summarized below:
Optimize Product Catalog
The fundamental capability of an industrial ecommerce platform is the ability to structure, organize and present a company’s product lines in an intuitive, searchable database. This powerful, online capability enables the buyer to evaluate, analyze and compare products 24/7 based on their own schedules and priorities.
This 24/7 master to micro view of the company’s products is a powerful sales tool that cannot be done without an ecommerce platform.
Define Ecommerce Products
From a buying process perspective, all the company’s products can benefit from the ecommerce platform. Product, application, installation and other information logically available on the platform will help sell standard products to highly engineered solutions.
From an online purchasing perspective, it is usually best to start with standard products. This helps the sales team, distributors and operations get acclimated to new capabilities and processes before offering more sophisticated products and tools.
Define Ecommerce Actions
Industrial ecommerce involves a spectrum of buying support actions that help move the buyer through the purchasing decision. From online chat capabilities to request for information forms, the ecommerce platform provides user help actions in a timely manner. As the buyer continues the process, request for quote, configuration tools, order placement and other alternatives enable the buyer to progress at their preferred pace.