Mastering E-Commerce Strategies for Manufacturers

Tune in to our next LinkedIn Live session as we decode the intricacies of establishing an effective e-commerce platform tailored for manufacturers. Featuring resident DMG Digital expert, Mike Sarcone-Roach, who will discuss the challenges, proactive measures, and essential tips crucial for a successful digital transformation.


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Nicole Donnelly 00:00

Six jumping jacks. Yeah, jumping jacks. Come on. Hello, hello, here we are. We're live today on manufacturing ecommerce success. And I'm so excited to be joined by one of our very own members of the team at DMG Digital Mike Sarcone-Roach. And Mike is doing some amazing work for us with our manufacturing, manufacturing, Whoa, boy barely started, like, you know, I can't even finish my sentence. He's been doing some really great work with our accounts, really bridging the gap and helping them move forward in E-commerce with several of our clients who've just invested in some pretty cool and exciting e-commerce platform. So Mike, welcome to the show. Today, I'm so excited for you to come on and share your amazing experience and expertise. So it's gonna be fun.

Mike Sarcone-Roach 00:51

Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here. And this is one of those things that I just am able to talk about ad nauseam for many reasons, but excited to be here. So

Nicole Donnelly 01:01

true. I feel like anytime Mike and I get on a call, and we're talking e commerce, we look at the clock, and it's like an hour and a half has passed. And we're like, where did the time go? Because there's just, there's so much when it comes to e commerce for manufacturers, there's so many intricacies there's so many opportunities, there's so many challenges, and there's just never, there's never an end to all of the things that can be can be talked about. And it's really quite exciting for manufacturers out there who are thinking about e commerce or maybe have started to take the plunge. There's just so much opportunity there. So I would love to first start Mike and just have you share a little bit about your background. What was it that kind of led you into manufacturing? And what you know, what, what is it that you love so much about supporting manufacturing on the marketing side? Little memory lane? Sure.

Mike Sarcone-Roach 01:51

Yeah, I think my first, my first foray into marketing for manufacturers was at a marketing agency, many moons ago. And we had a great client hexagon manufacturing, which is a large multinational corporation. And we had been mostly focusing on SAS products and kind of websites, technology focused products, AI things, which are kind of intangible and etheral. and difficult to pin down. And it was really refreshing to market something that really had specific specifications, you know, a direct application, you know, and kind of had this legacy of being a real thing that people really used, and wasn't just sort of a new invented out of whole cloth. Kind of product. So that's the first, my first step into it. And so after, after, after I left that job, I started working with Thomas Thomas marketing services, I was like an account supervisor there for, for a while and managed a large team, kind of running marketing operations across SEO and kind of full email marketing campaigns, making videos making websites for a really, really wide variety of manufacturers, many of them custom, but also lots of industrial distributors. And so a lot of different kinds of pieces of the supply chain puzzle. And so I got a really good view of kind of how they all fit together, you know, what are the sort of tangible parts of their businesses and their products and their services and kind of how do they find each other and connect? And yeah, so that was my, my introduction, I suppose was was through marketing other other things. And then and then finding my way to, to manufacturing. And also I just, I love going down a Wikipedia hole and like learning about new processes and materials and things like that. So it just it felt really good to me to have this kind of like learning opportunity around all of my clients where I could really get down the pipe and learn about passivating stainless steel for food use and pharmaceutical uses and the FDA regulations around food, great glues, and all these things are somehow very appetizing Wikipedia holes for me to to create content around.

Nicole Donnelly 04:09

And I will say like, I have been a witness to that you are like a walking encyclopedia for all of these very, like niche manufacturing processes and products that most people in America have no idea but really make up such a huge like that. That's what's so beautiful about manufacturing. It's like the backbone of our economy. And I love what you said too, about this being like you're, you know, these people are creating something tangible, it's real. It's, you know, really fun for me to I feel fun and rewarding to be part of, you know, that whole journey and everything. And it's also fun and rewarding to hear you share from your Encyclopedia of knowledge, all of the information that you've gained from all of those clients and processes that you've had direct experience with. So very cool. Very, very cool. So yeah, so you have you have been helping us out a ton with one of our client accounts, US air filtration on the e commerce Store that we just launched for them in August, it's hard to believe, man, it's November, we launched it just months ago. And already in just the few months that you've, you've, you've been there, we've been working on a lot of really exciting things. So I would love for you to just share, like, what are some of the projects, things that you're working on at US air filtration, and what are some of the top priorities and marketing campaigns you see there. And then I think once we talk about that, we can talk a little bit more about how that applies to just other manufacturers at large. And just to give a little bit of context, US air filtration is a custom manufacturer, which I think is true for a lot of manufacturers, but they also distribute, so not only did they custom manufacture their own equipment and their own parts for those pieces of equipment, they also have their distributor for other companies. And so it's a very unique use case. But tell us a little bit more about what your been your experience at US air and, and what are you working on? What what's what's, what's new and great there?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 06:05

Yeah, it's been great. We've, since the sores launched, we've started figuring out the best ways to kind of, you know, exploit it and get it out in front of a proper purchasing audience. And there's, there's a number of different facets to you know, which products can you really sell online, right across the or distributed products, your kind of custom products. And a lot of the bread and butter right for us air filtration Are these like large baghouses these large kind of, you know, unsold things that you're not just gonna go buy off of the internet, right. But there's a lot of other you know, valves and filters and bags and things that go into those products that need to be replenished, you know, the basically consumables that get destroyed over time or need to be cleaned and replaced, and, and so forth. So a big part of that is kind of zeroing in on the products that kind of fit into an E commerce purchasing framework, right? What's something that you can just go in order one off, and you kind of know what you're gonna get, it doesn't need to be custom fit custom made, you just kind of fits into the machine you have. So you wish Oh patrician is a great example. Because there are a number of products that they offer that do fit into this framework of you just slap it in it works, it's good to go, you know, pieces. But then they also have these like large custom things. And they also kind of have right in the middle where they have these sort of custom replenishable, right, these these bags that have specific specifications to users, to two machines that they fit into. So how do you bridge the gap between these kind of three different phases are really four different phases of products, excuse me from, you know, really off the shelf, namebrand SKU, it's right there. It's exactly what it says on the box, to your kind of custom fit filters to your large, totally custom systems. And then really, as a consultant, like how do you help put it all together? How do you really design a full system. So a big part of what we've been focusing on is, you know, obviously, the things we can sell directly to the store that make the most sense. And the nice thing with US air filtration is a lot of these are consumable, so they kind of have a specific timeline. So a big focus is zeroing in on the customers who are the best fit for these off the shelf products, the most like obvious fit products. So they don't need to go and talk to a sales rep, or a kind of custom designer to make sure that they have the right piece in they're in the right materials. But they can just go and order the thing right off of the shelf. And because they're consumable, too, we know that they have a kind of specific duration or kind of half life when you're going to need a new one. So a big part of our focus is creating email campaigns that reach back out to those folks, when they know that there's a need, you know, in terms of maintenance and operations, to buy a new filter, right thing, we know that these guys always come back on this date. So let's just send them an email with a link to reorder, or offer discounts on reordering like larger volumes and things like that. So a big focus is really just, you know, kind of cultivating that side of the store to bring in attention and start getting sales directly for those most direct like off the shelf products, which so far has been going really well. But we've hardly really scratched the surface of kind of turning it into a larger marketing machine and kind of connecting all the dots. But we're already seeing some good success with all the products being available on the store. And they have a very good presence already. They have a very strong kind of organic presence on Google. So people are able to find them and kind of connect with these products before it really started broadcasting that there's this store and opportunity available. But really, the next step is getting those those customer orders because a large, large volume of their business, are these more these custom parts that kind of fit into these larger machines. So how do we kind of bridge the gap between those off the shelf products to the kind of customized versions of those off the shelf products, right, that are specific to a very specific machine, very specific use case. And they have this history, right? They've sold many of these over the time. But how do we know that we've got the right one? The reordering the right thing, how do we get the link and the information to the customer to know that the reordering the proper product when they're not on the phone? With a sales rep, and how do we how do we connect the dots with the sales reps? How do we empower them to use the store to really have a habit as a vehicle to, you know, kind of set up their maintenance and operations and their kind of cyclical need to replenish these things, it's a big benefit to the customer, that they're able to kind of sign up and just automatically get updated versions of these products. But enabling all that on the backend becomes, becomes becomes complicated, because you have many, many, many different custom parts, many, many, many different skews many more than your average store. But there, it's also pretty specific and simple. Once you do have the right dots connected, there's a lot of opportunity to kind of move some of that time and attention off of the sales reps, plate and onto really, really the customers play where they can just go in and size and select and get the piece they need, and then set up delivery for exactly when they want. Yes,

Nicole Donnelly 10:53

oh, I love all of that. So many things I think you said are so important. One of them is just how important it is. And we talked about this a lot is to phase out your ecommerce prop build. So you mentioned starting with those really standard items off the shelf and just setting up, you know, those skews. So make it very simple just out of the gate to just start selling online. And then from there, you can build in the capability down the line to eventually have the the ability for people to reorder their custom, specific custom parts. And you make a really great point too about a lot of manufacturers, they are their customers are reordering these parts over and over and over again. And so just think about the efficiencies that can be created if you can create an awesome way for them to place those orders through the e commerce Store. Rather than that, rather than having a call the rep every time, we all know that first time they need to place that order. If it's a custom manufactured part, there's a lot of back and forth happening, there's a lot of like making sure the measurements are correct. And the specs are correct, maybe they need to have a sample bag, filter bag sent or whatever the product is to make sure it fits properly before they buy it. But once all that's done, it's just like, you just want to be able to give them an easy way to buy and purchase. And so that's the beauty is like, you know, the e commerce Store for a legacy manufacturer, like US air filtration is never going to fully replace the sales rep. If anything, it's just going to help serve as the sales admin for the sales rep so that they can really focus all their time on handling more of those custom, maybe first time orders really, you know, high value really complicated orders. And then as much as possible, let those sales reps you know masquerade as the customer to get the customers to be placing those repeat orders online and building the store so that you have those custom skews in place so that they can do so. So I think that's really cool. And on the email marketing side, that is like the low hanging fruit. You know, if you're a legacy manufacturer, chances are you got a really good list, you've got a really good list of customers that have been purchasing you from you for decades. And so what a great way to leverage that list and really start building out some great email campaigns to bring awareness to the store to teach them how to use it, how to create account how to make those orders, and then also be able to just build in some really cool like workflows where you know, new customer workflows, where you can send them how do you install your product, how do you maintain your product is to build and continue to build that relationship of trust with them after the sale. And there's just like endless opportunities to build on that. And the other thing I love that you mentioned is SEO, and just digital marketing in general. I think it's a really, I love what you said there that it really helps. And is a really critical part of a successful e commerce transformation for manufacturer, that you've done the work upfront to really make sure you've optimized your your web presence for your your company and your store by investing in SEO and really taking the time to really create the content and create like a really great educational place for people to come and learn. So that when you're ready to take the E commerce launch, you've kind of got this great baseline in place already. And the e commerce Store is just going to kind of like amplify that to the moon, right? Because every Google you know if your the more pages your website has, the more Google loves you, right, so So let's talk about that a little bit more, because I feel like I'm doing all the talking Mike. And that's not the way this is supposed to go. So let's talk about like what do you see like, are the greatest opportunities right now for manufacturers when it comes to e commerce for the smaller five to 20 million manufacturers by 20 million in revenue manufacturers who may be thinking about e commerce but they're not really sure if it's right for them like what do you see as the opportunities which manufacturers are really great fit for E-commerce?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 14:40

Yeah, it's interesting question it's, it's it's hard to answer specifically because it really runs the gamut. And really depending on even within a kind of a specific manufacturing space, you might have some companies that fit really really well and some that don't quite too. The best thing is is a product where you can put a price on it, put it out publicly and people can come in and purchase it But in the manufacturing space, that's fairly rare, really, in some distributed things, that's totally doable. But often, you know, the the products have so much customization, and really require a lot of like feedback and specific documentation, you know, specific measurements where they don't really fit into, you know, they don't, they don't, they don't really fit on a shelf that you can go and select things off of. So really, the first step is figuring out like, what products fit, you know, what do we need? What kind of specifications about these products? Do we need to make public, for people to figure out whether or not they're a good fit? And based off those specifications? Can they figure out if they're a good fit, you know, sometimes you can put information on a website, and it looks like you're selling the proper product. But there might be more to it, there might be different materials and different options that might not be obviously available, different configurations that you need somebody to kind of come in and talk to you about. So to that end, it's good to get all of your products and all of your specifications, as much detail and specificity about your products and your capabilities on your website as possible. So that you kind of touch all possible bases, right? You don't want to pigeonhole yourself into just a couple product listings of the only things that kind of fit for you. You want to get your full full breadth of your capabilities as a manufacturer on display. So the good news is that you can do that through E commerce in a number of different ways, like creating different product pages and specific capability pages can kind of help take that first step of putting your putting your name out there with the exact things that you can do. Right? Can you drill a specific hole through specific type of material to a specific specification? What kind of fabrication? Can you do you know, what are what are your products used in what kinds of industries and so just to start touching bases with all the different types of searches out there that can connect and be relevant to your products. So from there, you can you can build specific product pages, and you can get into more detail and add a shopping cart so folks can can check out if that's really a good fit for you. But you can still list products and have a full product listing without having publicly available pricing, it will limit you obviously in certain types of advertising opportunities and certain displays on Google and so forth. But it's still very, very good for your SEO. And SEO is really the biggest kind of low, lowest hanging fruit for any custom manufacturer out there. There's so many different kinds of specific jargon, you know, specific to industry specific measurements, specific types of fabrications, that don't have a lot of search volume, don't have a lot of pages out there on the internet about them. So that actually is a huge advantage to manufacturers where you can get your name out there associated with the type of product or procedure or capability in really getting into the specific like measurements, the specific types of materials, the specific regulations, there's a lot of really valuable searches out there. Not super high volume, but can have huge potential on a business, right? If you can rank for, you know, specific processes that are rare or hard to source that actually makes it easier to rank for them. So there's less, there's not that much competition in many in many parts of the internet for some of these really high value terms. But it's really just kind of figuring out what those are. That's why it's important to kind of get the full breadth of what your company can do out there with as much specificity as possible. So that you can start to see what kinds of searchers are you connecting with, you know, once you have that content on your website, you're able to see through Google Search Console and other other means, like, what are people typing in when they get to my website, and that can give you a lot of information about what types of searches are out there. You know, what types of purchasing audiences are available. And then from there, you can kind of customize the rest of your website to to tackle that kind of that traffic and that opportunity.

Nicole Donnelly 18:56

Oh, I love all of that. And I love what you said about the product pages, just making sure that you've got really good information on your product pages. We got some really great comments coming in from Alexander's Mazak. I hope I'm saying your name, right. He said the main problem of most e shops are product pages, usually they are not unique. Let's talk about that a little bit. Mike, like what do you think it is that makes a really solid product page? What can manufacturers be doing or including on their product pages, it's really going to be a great user experience and really help lift those conversions and bring in customers?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 19:30

Yeah, it's a good question. And again, it varies a lot depending on the manufacturer and what they're selling and so forth. But it's a good point. A lot of product pages are very similar, right? They kind of listing the same things. And you know, it's a little generic, especially if you don't have specific prices and specific use cases for your products. And they're a little more generalized. But really what you want to do to be as detailed as possible, really list all of the potential options, all the different types of configurations, often too you'll have kind of a baseline product that kind of spells out very differently for different, different industries. And being able to hit each of those is important, right? Because you might call a certain product one thing for one industry and a different thing for a different one. So having different product pages that are connected, but kind of specified to different industries, is really the name of the game. And that's part of the big opportunity is that you're able to be overly specific, right, you can get into extreme detail, you can list things in metric, and then an Imperial, right, and then you're going to relate to more searches, right. And you'll have a better sense of where those searches are coming from as well. So really, volume is important. And really trying to cover the breadth of of your capabilities again, because you can you can kind of pigeonhole yourself if you're too, too thin on a page. You know, I've had I've had some clients where they they will come in with a website with not much on it, because they kind of thought less is more. But that's definitely not the case. More is more. Yeah, that's right. If somebody lands on one page, and they receive it, and they say, Oh, well, this doesn't look like the fit for my industry, we call it this over here. You know, it's important to have both of those so that you're not kind of pigeon holing yourself in a specific industry, or a specific type of product, when you really have a more expansive capability. My

Nicole Donnelly 21:20

love that it's it's kind of like US air filtration, for example, they sell filter bags, but so many people call them filter socks, right? So you got to make sure that from a search perspective, you're putting yourself in the position of the searcher the user, what is it they're going to be searching for, and making sure that you're mindful of that. Another thing I think, for product pages is just like, wherever possible, add video, show how you install the product, do an unboxing video, if there's any maintenance videos that you can add to that page. So that really can allow the user to put themselves in that they're putting themselves in the position of having already had the product and being able to see how it's going to work, how it's going to be installed, how easy it is, how it can be maintained. And that can really build a lot of trust. And I think building on what you said too, about specs, really making sure that all of the specs are on that product page, like don't like any everything in anything, throw it all the kitchen, sink, everything because those specs are so important for manufacturers you want you need and want to be able to display all of them. And having really, really good quality images really matters, you know, you it's not that hard to get good quality images these days, let's be honest, iPhones are really great. You know, something we've seen with a lot of our clients that works well is just schedule a shoot day, you know, and have someone come in and do it for you, because manufacturers are busy to have a lot of time. But just really make sure that you've got some really good product photos on the page too. And then of course, like testimonials, like bringing in on those product pages, testimonials from other people who have used the product that really can help build that social proof that trust and then having a really good guarantee, like what is your guarantee as a company? How are you standing behind your product? What are the are you going to do next day shipping is there, you know, what's your return policy? What's your warranty? And just being very clear and spelling that out on the product pages? And man, we've got Alexander, he's got a lot of great comments. Let's talk about this. He says he also has another comment, Mike, it is really not a time to think do they need to do it? Because in today's global world, if you're not producing product, and don't have your own e shop, you are losing a lot of money. A min I totally agree. I think any man I would say I'm going to put it out there. I think any manufacturer can start selling something online. Mike, what do you think be my devil's advocate? Do you think that's true? Or am I wrong?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 23:39

Yeah, definitely, definitely not true. For some, I mean, there's some manufacturers that just simply you know, don't have an end product, right? They sloppily process something in the middle. So you couldn't put like a checkout on Hey, come and powdercoat this, it's always going to be exactly the same. But to that degree, you can't create product pages and kind of capability pages that appear that way. And people can kind of add them to a cart and checkout. But really, they're kind of requesting a quote based on all those services. But he made a great point to like, really what you need once you get somebody to your webpage, are great images, really great display of the product, different configurations for the product. And it's easier than ever to get images for the manufacturing space. Sometimes it's not. So some of these things you simply aren't allowed to take pictures of to you talking about pharmaceutical or military applications. Oftentimes, it's just not physically possible or legal. So you know, there's different ways to kind of represent what you do. But visual content of some type is absolutely critical to building trust and kind of connecting the dots. And video is critical to I mean, not just in building trust. But in building relevance with Google. The more multimedia you have on the page, the more likely you are to rank and kind of connect connect with with search audience.

Nicole Donnelly 24:52

That's a great point you make about like some manufacturers not being able to get video or photos of their product. That's absolutely true, especially for some of these large scale industrial systems. You know, they there's a lot of weariness about having some people take photos, and it can be problem, you got to get legal approval and everything. What would you recommend in those situations? How do you recommend manufacturers kind of get get around that barrier, a roadblock? Or what are some things that you've seen work? In the past?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 25:18

Yeah, it depends. I mean, I think a lot of it is, you know, when you work in those industries is to list your compliance. Right? Are you are you ITAR compliant? Are you, you know, Have you have you worked with other pharmaceutical companies in the past, sometimes you can get testimonials, you can get kind of badges and like a bit of a customer lists that can kind of check off. And people in those industries will recognize, oh, they are ITAR compliant, they've done this before. And so you don't necessarily need to have all the P's and Q's and those instances. In fact, if you were to publish pictures of your heat exchanger for the F 35, like, you might get in some trouble. And people seeing it might be wary about working with you in the past. I've had a couple of companies that have been hacked and had large scales of information about large private companies exposed and it makes for an interesting time.

Nicole Donnelly 26:05

Oh, my gosh, that sounds awful. Yeah, I know, one thing that I think can work really well as if you can't film it in real life, if you can get a 3d rendering of it somehow and be and at least be able to have like engineering drawings available, like 3d drawings there that can really help to man, Alexander, I love it. He's like, lighten up the chatbox. Mike, let's start let's see what he's got. Make a sub niche and become the best at it. I think that was a really great point you made Mike about like really niching down, and really owning that niche, because then you're gonna dominate search. That was really cool. And he says, I mean, non unique text is is bad for SEO, I'm not sure if I quite understand that one. Let's see an adding video. And he said it would be better for the user. But you need to have cool text for search engines agree with that? You got to have good text, for sure. And then, man, Alexander, you're just really let's see, in 2004, we were losing a lot of time for images search. And it looks like I think we need to bring Alexander on the show. He needs to come on the stage and join us. Thanks for chiming in so much. This is super fun. Okay, so we talked about like opportunities for manufacturers. And, Mike, I knew you were going to be like, this is just so awesome. So let's see, one of my other questions is, what advice would you give to a manufacturer who's looking to invest in E commerce for the very first time? What would you say they should do first? How should they go through that discovery process?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 27:38

Yeah, I think a lot of it is really kind of product market fit. But it's very kind of complicated in this light, too, right? Because you have you have a product, you've got a market, you know that they fit. But can you make that relationship? Public? Right? Can you post all the prices that you're selling to that market? Or do you sell different pricing groups to different types of industries within that market? Different, you know, different clients of yours? So I think a lot of it is figuring out, what are you able to publish publicly about your products? What makes sense to publish? You know, would your distributors or other suppliers be upset about you putting these things out there, I think there's a lot more that goes into your kind of product market fit to figure out if your inventory of items really is a fit for for going to public display. It's not a full stop. If it's not right, you can still put a fair amount of information out there. But I think it's important to when you first sit, sit down to do it to figure out, you know, really, what are what are our bookends, like, how much can we get out there? And how much are we limited? And also, what are the complexities of putting this information out there, who are the other stakeholders around us that we work with, who supply us who we sell to, you know, our previous relationships that could be affected by us taking this information and putting it online. And so I think from there, you can start to, you can start to kind of build a vision of what your eCommerce store might look like, what you might want to leave off the table, what you might want to highlight the most, and what kinds of P's and Q's are going to be most important to describe those products. And then it's really about kind of marrying the two right what's what's been left off the website that we you know, for X, Y and Z kind of relationship reasons can't publish. But we still want to make known to people who come and visit and buy our little more off the shelf products so that we're not pigeon holing ourselves away from these, you know, industries that might have very high markups and margins, but don't really like having their information publicly available. So it's, it can be tricky, but a lot of it I mean, I think the the marketing side of it can help, you know, seal the deal and kind of tell the full story. But you need to really analyze like what information kind of falls into what bucket so you can kind of put your best foot forward in terms of Add the products you want to get online, and then publicly available, people can check out right away. And this is the information that's critical that they know, that isn't going to be there, it's not going to be on those product pages, we're not going to be able to tell the full story of you know, of our capabilities, but we want to make sure that people coming in, are aware of it, right, you know, so maybe there's a case study, or there's some other piece of educational material that comes alongside anybody checking out so they get a better sense of, oh, they came in, and this is their kind of odds and ends or accessories and cables and so forth catalog. But now I realized that they make, you know, you know, really high end post magnets for, you know, the Large Hadron Collider or what have you, and that they really have this much, much, much wider breadth of capability. And, and they have specialists who are, who are, you know, there to kind of solve our problems, I think a big part of it too, really comes down to what are the problems you're solving, because that's what every manufacturer is really doing. You know, oftentimes people aren't really coming to them to buy a product, they're coming to buy a solution, which, which sounds kind of vague, and it is, but a lot of the times they don't really know what the solution is, right? They don't know what the product is. And that's why a lot of the specifications are so important, because that's how they're describing their problem, right, I have a hole of this is this size, and I needed to, you know, be have a gasket that fits into that size, and they don't know, you know, all the all the types of gaskets out there, all the different types of materials and the, you know, temperature and chemical ratings of nitrile, neoprene and so forth, but they're just looking at sizing, right. So getting that information out there. So that you can kind of connect with their problems, whether you have a perfect off the shelf fit, you know, fit for it, or if it's more of a longer conversation about you know, the different options and and other problems outside of the problem that you're directly looking at. So that that's a broad answer. But, but really, you need to kind of start organizing yourself between products that can fit on a shelf and your, your your capabilities and specialization. And make sure that you're not kind of underplaying either one as you start to put that inventory of items on your website. Yeah,

Nicole Donnelly 32:04

and I love how you said to be very thoughtful about your partner relationships, right? So when you're thinking about, Okay, what do we want to put online? Really understanding how is this going to impact our distributor network? How is this going to impact our suppliers? How's this going to impact the companies that we distribute for and really being very, very thoughtful about those existing relationships? And how you want to kind of work around those constraints, right? every business, every manufacturer has business constraints. And I think that's one of the key parts of that discovery phase is really identifying what are our constraints? What are our shipping constraints, you know, what are all of those different things? So let's talk a little bit about shipping. Shipping is a whole beast with manufacturing. I mean, when you think about like, traditional e commerce, it's like, I'm gonna buy a t shirt, ship it ups, here you go, right? But it's a whole different ballgame. When you're trying to ship something from a manufacturer, you've got like LTL and VA involved, which is, you know, it's less than truckload freight. Right? So that's a very common way manufacturers will ship or by the truckload, or sometimes if it's small enough, they can, you know, you know, send it ups, but there's a variety of shipping methods. And so how would you recommend manufacturers tackle that problem when it comes to figuring out how to decide what products they want to sell online? And how to palletize and ship those items when they're selling it through the store?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 33:23

Yeah, that's a that's a great question and a very difficult one to answer. But again, it kind of goes into different places, right, you might have smaller kind of off the shelf, it's just a handful of cables. It's a wiring harness, it's, you know, it's just a few small items, you can ups that overnight, it easy. But you know, when you start getting into manufacturing, it's a lot of very heavy stuff. And the how and why it gets to a place is often half the product, you know, like, can you get this to in a certain volume at a certain time? Yes, or no, if you can't, then you're not really you're not really selling what they need, is that kind of problem solving, that's critical. And that's the kind of thing that's very difficult to just enumerate and really speak specifically to just through an E-commerce portal. There's certainly more and more people out there trying it, but a lot of it is down to trust you and that's, you know, once you start getting to LTL, and, and palletizing things, it's really important and the purchaser knows, or they need to get you on the phone and really have a good sense of, you know, what is your relationship with your freight provider? What is their relationship with their freight provider? Because a lot of the times it flips right, a lot of manufacturers have their own for provider, but a lot of their clients have their own freight provider. So you need to be able to kind of reflexively work with both of those manufacturers know that if you're in the game, you're you're you're in deep in the freight business, which is which is an exciting and terrifying one for a little bit, trying to try to fit them into many of our clients and it's it's an interesting beast. It's it's difficult to understand the full like scope of freight Supply Logistics. And it gets even more complicated as you have kind of individual entities working with different freight providers trying to connect the dots. But it's a huge piece of it too, one of the companies I worked with had a huge page, and we would update very consistently about their perfect orders, what was the ratio of extending exactly the right timings like making sure that every order they sent out that month, and they would, they would publish beautiful charts and graphs to really detail exactly how well they did every month, they would put out something of their perfect order. And then be very honest, you know, if there were dips, or UPS or downs, it'd be very explicit about it. And that kind of trust building is critical. And you can kind of get to that. But it takes it takes a lot of work, or it takes a lot of, you know, publishing of your own kind of behind the scenes work. But there's there's other ways to address it like that of just speaking to, you know, we're really invested in meeting your needs meeting your demands, even if we don't have all of those, you know, widgets perfectly available and enumerated on the website, you know, we're still here to help you along the way and make sure that those dots connect, because manufacturers know that getting the right piece is important, but making sure it's there at the right time can be even more important.

Nicole Donnelly 36:12

Absolutely true. I love all of that. Yeah, I think what I'm hearing too, is is like, try to just start small, start with the products that you can just sell reasonably. And there's really great partners, like shipper HQ is one of them that integrates with Magento. And with big commerce, and there's also ShipStation. But with shipper HQ, you can actually set it up so that you can connect API connect with any freight broker that you work with. So if you're working with a freight broker, and they manage all of your LTL for you, it'll just directly integrate with that API and be able to pull in live quotes at you know, at the time of checkout for those those orders. Now, you do have to do some work, of course, to set that up, because you've got to know exactly what your pallet dimensions are going to be for each order. For example, like, if you have a filter, you've got to know, okay, if I have 16 of these filters that being ordered, this is the pallet size. So there is some work that you need to do on the front end to be able to build that out. And you're absolutely right, that it's not going to work for every product, especially if it's a really, you know, what, obviously, if it's a custom manufactured product, that's you know, there's lead times that you have to think about too, but that is something that you can think about for those like stock items that you know, you kind of can know an estimate, okay, this is about how much the size of this is. And I can kind of figure out this the pallet size. And to be able to offer like real time quoting through a plug in like shipper HQ is really exciting. It's something we're, we're using at US air filtration. And and it's nice to be able to give people can just, you know, select the option there. But you're absolutely right that it is very complex. And there's not there's when it comes to shipping and manufacturing and E commerce, there's a whole lot of work that has to be done there to really understand what you can ship through E commerce and really what's not going to be something that can be instant quoted up front. And it has to be handled on the back end, maybe after the order is placed. So yeah, there's work to be done. But right manufacturers are up to the challenge. They can do it. If they make cool stuff. They can figure out ecommerce, right?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 38:15

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Nicole Donnelly 38:18

Whoa, man. What else should we talk about? Man? Mike, this is so fun. Let's talk about marketing metrics. Okay, let's talk about what do you think to assess the success of E commerce manufacturers? Like you've got you've, you've invested in this e commerce platform. But now you've got to start seeing what's working and what's not working so that you can optimize? Right? Like, that's kind of like, the fun, beautiful part that comes next. So what do you recommend that manufacturers do to kind of like set up their ecommerce store for like marketing? Success? And what metrics should they be looking at? And how do you advise they go about doing that whole process?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 38:58

Yeah, it's a good question. I think, you know, I think the obvious answer on some level is, is volume and sales, right? Are we getting people in the door through the website? Do people come in through the website and end up purchasing things, and then tracing that back, but you're not always gonna see giant volume, right, a lot of these applications is niche applications. There's not a huge search volume out there around these around these topics, and there's not a gigantic purchasing audience. So overall, search volume isn't like the only metric but having a consistent level of traffic. You know, being able to have a baseline of kind of consistent people visiting your website is important. So it is important to have kind of like some kind of traffic goal or or benchmark of we need to, you know, we want to have enough people coming in searching for our topics, the things that we sell the problems we solve, and connect with some of those educational topics. It's worthwhile to have some metrics around that. But it's really it's really sales. I mean, at the end of the day, can people You know it, can people come through and purchase something from your website. And it's kind of hard to enumerate beyond that, if there's, you know, specific KPIs that kind of cover all of manufacturing. But it's a focus on, you know, your, your, yeah, certainly set up Google Analytics, make sure folks are coming in. Good point. Yeah, very good point. But also Search Console, making sure that the searches and people who are coming in are searching for things that really are in your wheelhouse, or your the Google ads running, you know, make sure that the, the queries and the search terms that are connecting with your ads are really focused on your products and really sound like people who have the kinds of problems that you help solve. So I think it's kind of like accuracy, and, and validity of the kind of sales process, being able to interject yourself through a website and get attention and actually be able to sell things that way. And then from there, you can scale up right then then once you kind of have those those validity, check marks, then you can start to go after other topics and you know, write more, or just continue to kind of expand your website, get a little more broad match with your keywords, and open up the floodgates, I think the first thing you really want to do the first kind of key performance indicator for that I would look at is, you know, can we get somebody in organically or through ads, or what have you onto the website, who isn't a previous customer who you know, saw the trust building marks on and the information, the education that we provide on the website, and then they were able to actually make a purchase. And that's a lot of it's a lot of hoops to jump through, you know, it really is, depending on especially what kind of products you create, or customizations and all the different things out there. It can be very hard to validate. But a lot of it also comes down to existing customers, you know, what do they think of your website, you know, do do, you know, if you update your website, it's really good to ask your, your existing clientele to go take a look. Because oftentimes, they don't ever look at your website, once they have that relationship with you, they'll call you, they'll email you and reorder or set up a new SLA or what have you. But really reaching out to them to have them come and take a look at your website and give you a little bit of feedback can be invaluable. It's also a good time to sell things and announce personnel here and doing things to so that's not bad. But I think getting, getting getting word of mouth feedback from the website, from from users that you've you've had in the past, but particularly new users who are kind of fresh in off the website, what did they think of their, you know, what do they think of their their purchasing experience? And what else would they would they want to see, you know, there are other other files or other pieces of information, when they were comparing you to other folks that were there were most meaningful in the process. So it's hard to say it's actually quite qualitative, I would say in terms of your metrics, but at the end of the day, it's sales, you know, is this is really working, you know, has somebody gone all the way through and converted into an actual customer, just based off the website or marketing presence, which can be tough to do sometimes, too, because some of these manufacturers are already in every little niche that they that they know exists. But sometimes, then, you know, you start putting it on the website, and you you realize that there's there's other niches you didn't know about that are just like yours, you're solving the same problems you didn't even know they existed. And all of a sudden, your website and your business can really expand double, triple. Because all of a sudden you realize there's there's a market for this not just in automotive, but in you know, off road and you know, heavy trucks and rail and so forth. And it can it can really open your eyes to other opportunities. But really, it's kind of validating that first sale validating that the the funnel on your website is operational early. I love

Nicole Donnelly 43:42

that. I love what you said too, about qualitative data, like it's very important to talk to your customers, and actually hear from them what's working and what's not. And I think sometimes as marketers, we get so caught up in like, Okay, well how many abandoned carts that we have, and you know, how many people want to check out and how many actually, like, purchased and all that's really important data, and we want to be looking at it. But we do at the end of the day, that's a human on the other side, it's you know, that's making that purchase. And really hearing from them firsthand about what the experience is like and starting with your customers is is gold because they've been your customers and they know you and they chose you for a reason. So that's such great advice is to really talk to them. And I love what Alex says about setting up Google Analytics, Mike, you do a phenomenal job of really bringing in all of those data sources into a really beautiful Looker reports. You know where you're pulling in the Google Search Console data you're pulling in Google Analytics, you're pulling in Google Ads data, so you can see all of the keywords how you're ranking for those keywords, what pages are performing, and you know what traffic you're getting to each of the pages which pages are actually leading to conversions, being able to see and visualize that funnel from, you know, add to cart to checkout to purchase and so that you can identify where are the opportunities here. Like if we're getting a lot of abandoned carts. What can we do to optimize our abandoned cart email Campaign, for example. And so you I just love all the work that you're doing there to stand that up. And then if you are using a marketing automation platform, which most manufacturers have some sort of a CRM is how can you use that data from the CRM and from HubSpot and create an integration with your E commerce platform, which is like a phase two type of thing, right, you're not going to start there, it's going to you know, you, you got to phase out your build, but having that integration capability in place, so that you can have, you know, all that rich data in your marketing automation platform, for example, to be able to do some really cool email marketing campaigns. And man, I'm like, so juiced up about that, that's going to be super fun to see. So and then Alexander says, it's important to see the full customer path. Absolutely. Yep. Totally agree with that. So let's see, Mike, man, we just can keep going and going. I think, let's see. What else do we want to talk about? We talked about marketing metrics. We talked about US air. We talked about, man, I think we've talked about everything. I'm out of topics.

Mike Sarcone-Roach 46:08

I got one more, I got one more.

Nicole Donnelly 46:09

I'll bring it on. Let's

Mike Sarcone-Roach 46:10

do it. Talk about more. So the next thing like once you've kind of sold something, and you've kind of sold it to a company is really the account based market approach, right? How do we how do we take the singular sale and turn it into a longer term relationship with the client, because that's often what ecommerce can really do is begin to open that door to a new, larger client, right? So you can you can sell a little one off product, right? You can sell attachments that might fit into a product, and then they come to your website, and they see what's there. But it's really just one person, right? It might be a purchasing persona, or a product designer or somebody like that. And then you might be kind of in the wheelhouse of, you know, manufacturers that they know. And then from there, it's like, how do we expand? How do we expand this, this kind of one off, you know, really kind of throw away sale kind of loss leader, maybe even, and grow that into a larger relationship. And a lot of that is just really paying close attention to who's purchasing things out of your website. And when you see a bigger name come through, you know, capitalizing on that making sure that sales folks are aware of this, this company coming through, and starting to starting to engage with you, and then figuring out what your best foot forward is there. And that's why I talk a lot about, you know, ebooks and other like educational pieces that show the full scope of your business, whenever somebody comes in for these smaller more ecommerce purchases, is to be able to build that that kind of Account Based Marketing approach from from word one, as soon as they come in and purchase something, you don't want them to think that you're just kind of a dead end selling these, these odds and ends. But to really show the full scope of your capabilities, so that you can kind of speak to all those different personas, because you never quite know exactly who you're getting in first out of the door, you know, is it? Is it a technical or purchasing person? And how do you make sure that you're kind of putting the right feet forward for all those different personas that might be related to a kind of securing that larger client in the long term. And

Nicole Donnelly 48:09

I love that that's such a great point, because you're right, a lot of times in manufacturing, there are buying committees, you got your purchasing agent, you've got your maintenance manager, you've got your operation, you know, head of operations, you got your engineer or project manager, and all of them may have a hand in the in the end, they have different needs. And I think you speak to like the real value for manufacturers of really thinking about e commerce and your your website as like an education platform, like creating a really robust learning center. You know, people might consider it a blog, I like to call it a learning center where people can come and they can see videos of demos of your product, they can read about all of the questions you have related to your specific, you know, product that you need solved. And really building that really robust learning center really helps. But also I think you raise a really good point and I you know, we have another lovely clients psycho in New York that we have another lovely ecommerce store on and psycho has really done. They started out with just listing their products without pricing on the website, you know, that's a really great first step for manufacturers just to do just get product pages for all your products and not publish the pricing first. But then I love your approach to that is like what are the few products that we can publish on the website pricing for. And then by publishing that pricing, now you're opening up Google Merchant Center, now you're opening up the opportunity for them to show up in search for shopping ads. So then it can be like a way for people who are looking for those products to now be introduced and invited to see your website and the whole breadth of services that you offer. So I think that's a really and I love that approach that you are taking with them. I think it's really smart and savvy. And then the other thing too we see with our clients is once these once these customers make this order for the very first time you're right, it's usually a smaller order, then have a process in place where they're assigned. Have a sales rep who can then follow up with them follow up and see what other needs they may have. And just really provide that kind of like personal hands on care, you know that a lot of these manufacturers frankly, have built their business on right. Like that's, that's what they're, that's what they hang their hat on is that they're there when you call, it's not going to be a phone tree, you know, for the smaller manufacturers. So that's such a great way to feed your sales reps really leads for bigger opportunities and bigger deals and help them with those other larger problems. Really great points. Yeah, well, man, Mike, this has been so fun. You want to come on the show again?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 50:34

Anytime? Yes.

Nicole Donnelly 50:36

So I would just love to write like, Do you have any, like, final words of wisdom? or thoughts about e commerce and manufacturing wise words that you can give to our to our manufacturers out there?

Mike Sarcone-Roach 50:53

Yeah, that's a good question. I think, just, I don't know, just know that you're in for a much more complicated journey than you are imagining, you know, everyone, everyone sets out and says, Let me let me like, make it look like Granger. You know, that's, that's, that's millions of dollars in many years away from pretty much any other website? Yes. So definitely temper your expectations. Start by simply getting your products up there and getting them listed on the website. And, yeah, and but think about the the roadblocks down the line of like, how you're able to put these things out there. And what will be the kind of pitfalls as you sell to organizations, as you, you know, you sell alongside your distributors, you know, you're selling OEM products, you're selling white label things, and the relationships and the kind of complexities around selling different branded pieces, it's important to start like laying all that stuff out and not just running off to, to somebody who can who can build a website for you, and just say, yes, go do it, here's, here's, here's our 20 products, go go make it and then kind of cough up all of the all of the roadblocks and, and difficulties in your pricing schedules and so forth. But but also, don't be afraid, you know, there's, there's, there's a lot of opportunity out there. And, and getting getting a couple products up online, fully validated on Merchant Center, and able to really have ads behind them can can do crazy things to a business and can really kind of explode your business. But a lot of it really is about nurturing on the back end. And, and making sure that you're kind of paying attention to all of the intricacies of the problems and showing showing your potential clients that you're aware of them and you're able to address them can really can really help sell the product at the end of the day. And then the product pages need to do less, right, you know, if the rest of your website really tells this, this more elaborate story of who you are, and kind of how you fit into the ecosystem. I can help to help to avoid a lot of those things. So kind of educating yourself through educating your clients. Putting that that information together really helps you kind of run through the gamut of a lot of the kind of purchasing income, just logistical shipping, you know, nightmares that surround a lot of the things when you start getting there and having an Add to Cart button on your website. Be brave, but but also be cautious. Be


Mike Sarcone-Roach, from DMG Digital, discusses the challenges, proactive measures, and essential tips crucial for a successful digital transformation.