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Two Options for Custom Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce

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Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce. Actually sounds quite interesting, right?

An "old-school" traditional business taking on new technology.

Well, eCommerce isn't really new anymore.

It's an active part of our daily lives now. At least it certainly seems that way.

Why?

The convenience, efficiency and speed that eCommerce offers.

However, manufacturers implementing eCommerce for the first time face many challenges.

Especially for custom manufacturers that do not produce a proprietary product or finished good.

Today, let's explore two strategies for a manufacturer to implement eCommerce by targeting its proprietary process.

Related Article: 25 Blog Topics for Manufacturers Eager to Start Blogging

Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce Opens New Doors

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Implementing eCommerce awakens exciting opportunities as well as opens new doors.

Furthermore, as a custom manufacturer, you produce amazing products for other companies.

You are the widget expert. Especially since no one knows your product better than you.

You have spent years perfecting your proprietary process.

Yet, one of your biggest challenges: how do you scale your proprietary process?

There must be plenty of potential customers searching for your products, services, and solutions.

Where are they?

How do you find them?

How can you narrow down the buying process to make life easier for you and more importantly, the buyer?

The answer: eCommerce.

For example, just a few years ago, many manufacturing clients claimed the internet wasn't going to impact their company.

Now, most cannot move fast enough to plunge into the world of eCommerce.

"The Heat is On" (shout out to Glen Fry, God rest his soul).

So, how do you get started?

Below covers two options for a manufacturer implementing eCommerce for the first time.

Related Article: Top 13 Reasons Why Manufacturers Struggle with eCommerce

Option #1) Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce

Add an eCommerce store onto your existing website

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First, contact your web designer to start a dialog on launching an eCommerce store to your current website.

In a previous post, we discussed the struggles manufacturers face when jumping into the world of eCommerce.

Over the years, you most likely have created prototypes for your customers.

Let's use that same concept on your website.

The assumption is that you already have a website. What platform are you using?

Have a conversation with your web designer and ask if you can easily add eCommerce to your site.

For example, if you are on WordPress, your web designer can add the WooCommerce plugin. It's FREE!

There are many other shopping cart options that are extremely inexpensive.

Many eCommerce platforms start at ONLY $19.99 per month (EX: Shopify, BigCommerce, 3D Cart, etc…).

Take several of your finished products and add them to your website.

Adding an eCommerce store to your website offers tremendous benefits including:

  1. Customers access your business 24/7/365 = round the clock customer service & a powerful sales tool
  2. Find Soulmates (aka Ideal Customers)
  3. Eliminate the cumbersome RFQ process
  4. No A/R = Credit card payments means you are paid before you ship! YAY!!
  5. Lower cost marketing and sales strategy
  6. Market Research (eCommerce becomes your R&D department)
  7. Stay in your Wheelhouse
  8. Network = Cross Network with other vendors targeting the same market
  9. International opportunities
  10. Implementing eCommerce allows you to Scale Your Proprietary Process

Related Article: eCommerce Checklist: Manufacturing eCommerce Strategies

Option #2) Custom Manufacturers Implementing eCommerce

Allow Customers to Customize Your Product

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Another option for manufacturers entering the eCommerce world, allow customers to custom build your products on your website.

How?

Well, what is your sales process when a new customer reaches out?

Does the new customer submit a Request for Quote (RFQ)?

If so, you then kick start the quoting process.

Of course, you were already busy when the RFQ arrived.

Now you need to set aside other top priorities to accommodate the new customer. You don't want to make a bad first impression. Speed is key.

You look over the drawing. Check out the parts on the BOM (Bill of Materials).

Lookup component prices and availability.

Determine the labor units. Amount of time on machinery. The number of touches. Lead time for parts.

You've gone through this process probably thousands of times.

In addition, do you receive RFQ's that drift off in areas outside of your expertise? Outside of your wheelhouse?

Odds are the answer is yes.

It really becomes a bit more challenging to determine the quote for a new customer especially for products and processes that fall outside of your expertise.

Now they are waiting.

What if you could streamline the RFQ process?

Just imagine if you could narrow the process into an automated system that was available to a new customer online, 24/7.

Where you could create a quote or estimate instantly.

Sounds like heaven, right?

First, create a starting point.

Narrow down your product line. Begin with limited options.

Focus on the most popular. The most profitable. The most simplistic.

You have a proprietary process that you perfected over the years. Well, pretty close anyway.

Can you take that process to guide a customer into your funnel?

Let's go deeper.

Related Article: 19 Tips for Curing "I Hate Change" (Plus a Healthy Dose of eCommerce

80/20 Rule

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Does your business experience the 80/20 rule?

Most businesses do.

For example, let's evaluate the 20% of your products and processes that generate 80% of your sales and profits.

  1. Take the raw material, parts and components that go into that product
  2. Calculate the labor units
  3. Add in machine time that goes into each unit

Provide this information on your website.

Offer a price right away to the user.

Well, though the system may not be perfect to start, this at least gets you in the game….immediately!

Implementing eCommerce Gets in the Game….Immediately

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So many of my clients state, "If I can just get a customer on the phone, we can close them."

Creating a customized instant quoting process removes the bottleneck on the front end of the relationship.

You can state that the price is based on a single unit.

This would be extremely interesting for potential customers working on a prototype.

It opens a door to start an immediate dialog.

Finally you now have a warm lead.

This opens the door to express your passion for their project.

What are you doing at this point?

You are now engaging, building a relationship as well as demonstrating your expertise.

Furthermore, revealing that you are capable of solving your customer's problem quickly and efficiently.

Showing that you are a person of trust as well as valuable partner.

Lastly, implementing eCommerce to start the quoting process lends a tremendous competitive advantage for you and your company.

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😎How to Get Webdesign Clients FOR REAL

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I've been receiving many messages lately on how difficult it is to get webdesign clients. The majority of stories revolve around potential clients ignoring you or disappearing after a first promising exchange of emails.

So I decided to put together an article, listing what I do to book Webdesign clients FOR REAL. Everything in this article is based on pure practice and my personal experience.

If you want to watch the video version of this article, click here (and like the video since you're there 😝).

Research on your clients

As I always say, everything starts with research. The wrongest thing you can do is to send duplicate emails that you create in batch for everyone you want to work with.

The client needs to feel that the email is original and written just for her.

I don't know you, but I immediately spot a "copy and paste" proposal to work with me. I receive duplicate messages all the time on Linkedin, and I stop reading them after the second line.

I take into consideration just the ones I feel genuine, and the ones where I see that the person TRULY knows who I am and what I do.

That's why research is fundamental before writing the email.

Visit your addressee's website and take notes. Get familiar with what the client does. Then write the message sowing here and there information you grasped from your research.

I'm aware that this approach takes way more time than bombarding 100 clients with the same email. That's why you need to sort clients.

When I'm looking for website redesign gigs, I discard all the companies with a presentable website. Researching and pitching my service to them would be a waste of time.

I reach out just to clients who could need my help. This allows me to reduce the time I spend collecting info.

Focus on them

In case you offer Webdesign services, it's useful to highlight what are the flaws of the client's website, and how you could solve the problem.

This part is what makes your approach different from the crowd.

Clients aren't interested in your previous experiences and history. What they truly want to know is if you can be an asset to them and how motivated you are.

The fact is that usually, clients don't even know what their problem is. If you can show their website's flaws, and then you show how you can fix them, they will pay attention.

Showing what needs improvement

But what's the best way to show what you can do for the clients?

Visual explanations is the answer.

When I contact a client, I rarely write a plain text email. I use videos and images, instead. They permit me to show visually what are the parts to improve on their website.

In case I want to shoot a video, I use Loom. Loom is a great tool to film screencasts, upload them online, and share them through a private link.

If I want to attach an image to my email instead, I use Skitch to add notes on the website screenshot.

I've been using pain emails for a while before realizing that almost everyone responds better to videos and images. So why not using the same approach in my emails.

This turned out to be the right choice. Since I use videos and notes on screenshots to promote my services, I saw an increase in positive feedback.

Working before getting paid

In case you definitely want to work with a specific client, you can go a little farther with your strategy.

Instead of notes on the existing website, you can create a new version of this client's homepage.

This method needs more time and energy, but it's so far the best one I used to collect clients. If you want to impress someone, there's no better way than working for that person without getting paid.

To reduce the time it would take you to create a new mockup, you need to use website builders. They allow you to come up with a fresh design quickly, using drag-and-drop.

I've been using Elementor for years, and it made a huge difference in finding web design clients. With Elementor, I can create a webpage in a matter of an hour and send it to the client as an example of what I can create for him.

And if you don't want to invest too long creating a new template from scratch, Elementor gives you a vast list of templates you can choose from.

You can try Elementor here.

Tailor your service

The last advice I can give you is to be honest and specific with your clients. Promise just what you can deliver, and promote tailored services for your clients.

The more tailored they are, the better they will work.

While the majority of web designers propose a 360degrees service (blending with the background), you can be the authority in your distinct topic.

Niching down gives better results than being the all-round expert.

And if you need an extra push to convince them to hire you, offer a trial period. Propose to work together for a month in order to see if you're good for each other. If at the end of the trial, you're not a good match, no hard feelings.

What about you? What are the techniques you use to get clients for webdesign?

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In this ‘new normal’ it’s not more time, but THIS, that’s the holy grail of life and business

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Has anyone else secretly worried that they accidentally manifested a worldwide pandemic? Because the top 3 things in my future vision journaling for about a year now have been:

  1. My husband works at home (so I don’t have to do all the childcare)
  2. I run my business in just a few short hours a day
  3. We spend lots of time together as a family

“Not like this!” I journal frantically on day 1 of lockdown.  It feels like those awful wish reversals you get in fairytales where your wishes are indeed granted, but only in the most ironic and terrible ways.

Abracadabra! The world’s now in peril, your kids rarely leave your side, your husband’s going to work from home (but only emerge to look in the fridge), oh and here’s your new work day: AKA the crack of dawn, and “crikey, it’s midnight!” Enjoy!

On day 2 of lockdown I realise I do not have the patience of Mary Poppins and that our teachers are indeed underpaid; perhaps my children are going to have to settle for ‘The School of Life’ for a few weeks (or even months?!).

On day 3, I have a mini meltdown in the shower and sob into the soap dish over the future of the world, my business and my children (who are apparently now destined to be educated by a mentally unstable mother who doesn’t even know what a number bond is).

But on day 4, something miraculous happens: I feel better!

Months and years of mindset work and gratitude finally kick in, and I emerge from that dark place of fear, mourning and worry we all seem to have been tipped into, and realise that:

Yes, we’ve been forced to slow down, and yes, we’ve been forced to create space, and yes, it’s happened in the most horrible way; but even with all the extra scariness and worry and uncertainty; without the rush of the old world and the necessity to live our lives around someone else’s timetable, I can finally see the truth in that saying that, with change, comes opportunity.

We can either use this time to freeze and bemoan all the plans and dreams that will now have to be postponed or forgotten; or we can stop focusing on all that we’ve lost, and redirect our attention to all that we’ve gained.

I hate to say this, but for me and anyone else with children and/ or a job that can be done from home, more time isn’t necessarily one of those things we’re gaining – so don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you’re suddenly going to be able to write your book or launch that new membership program…

But actually, after a few more days in our ‘new normal’, I realise that although my days are definitely longer and fuller and involve far more parenting and far less actual working than ever before; it has also meant that I’ve had to pare back everything to the pure essentials, and there’s no doubt about it, this forced simplicity has created something I now suspect is more precious than that holy grail of more time: it’s given me back my headspace.

Because without the rush that bookends my days; the school runs and the work trips, the homework, the social events, the clubs, appointments, obligations, and all the other mental acrobatics that go into running a 21st Century life, I realise that it’s not lack of time that’s been stopping me from doing all the things I want to do, like write my book, or tap into my business vision, have more self care, or be more present with my kids (time is just an illusion, after all).

No, the thing that’s really been holding me back, is a lack of room in my mind to see things clearly, a lack of space to daydream, and a train of thought that’s constantly being stopped and diverted.

Maybe it wasn’t the new skeleton schedule, or personal development seminar, or more help around the house that I needed to help me achieve those dreams. Maybe what I really needed all along was a pattern interrupt; something that would slow me right down. And suddenly here we have it; the mother of all pattern interrupts; not really holding us back so much as reining us in, so we can slow down and see the opportunities already here.

So 2020 isn’t exactly panning out how I’d planned it – I’m sure you know how that feels – and while I know there’ll still be moments of frustration, fear and sadness for all of us, I’ve decided to take what the universe has given me (more family time and more togetherness), embrace the change, go with the flow, trust, and look for the opportunities that were here all along.

And you know what? Maybe that’s how slowing down to speed up really works; because in the little under 2 weeks since this all began, that book that’s been sitting outlined in my google docs for months has already been turned into a mini ebook ready for my VA to make pretty in Canva (and the extended version is on its way); and that membership I’ve had all the content for but no ‘time’ or energy to launch – it’s going live later this month so I can serve more people who need what I’ve got.

Yes, the road ahead is uncertain right now, but I’m beginning to trust that I’ve got all the tools I need within me to weather the storm (or at least Amazon Prime, probably does). So now’s the time to stay out of fear and stay in momentum; to show up and serve with no other agenda than serving; to be scared without being scary (as Brene Brown very aptly said); and to look for the opportunities that were already there.

And hopefully, when this is all over, l may still not know what a number bond is, but at least I’ll be ready to rise with the tide. Will you rise with me?

Words by Cate Butler Ross.

The post In this ‘new normal’ it’s not more time, but THIS, that’s the holy grail of life and business appeared first on Female Entrepreneur Association.



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A Broken TV Led This Entrepreneur To Build A $3.5 Billion Business

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Girish Mathrubootham has built an incredibly popular startup from the ground up. A company that fuels businesses of all sizes, and is probably becoming far more important in the wake of the big events of early 2020.

Girish recently appeared as a guest on the DealMakers podcast. During his interview he shared how he has raised hundreds of millions of dollars through a Series H fundraising round, been through rebranding, built cloud-based global software solutions, and has even created what he calls an alternative model for designing software. His company Freshworks has even acquired 12 other organizations according to Crunchbase.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

Everything Started With An MBA

Girish was born in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He grew up in the small town of Trichy. He left college in 1996, and the job market was tough. So, he applied for an MBA program and headed off to Chennai.

After completing his MBA he went on to work at software companies HCL Technologies, Cisco, eForce, and Zoho.

The Art Of Transitioning

Mathrubootham has become somewhat of a master of transitions throughout his career. He was a Java programmer, a trainer, an engineer, and then VP of Product Management. A position he says is great training grounds for becoming a CEO. Then as a founder, you add HR, finance, and sales.

In a recent Tweet, he wrote that “Building a company is like building a product where culture is the UX for employees and customer experience is the UX for customers.” Although he has clearly surrounded himself with some of the best minds and advisors today, Girish is a big advocate of just learning by doing. No matter how long you go to school there is a lot you’ll never be given to prepare you for real life. You have to allow yourself to be curious about learning new things.

Then it’s also about building a great team. He says the age of rockstar talent is over. It is now about building great teams. You want product managers who can see things from a user’s point of view. You want designers who prize craftsmanship and attention to detail. In developers, you want the ability to break down complexity to simplicity.

All Good Startups Begin With Experiencing Personal Frustrations

Girish Mathrubootham’s story started with a broken TV.

In 2009 he was moving back to Chennai, India from Austin, TX. Among his belongings being shipped was a Samsung TV. It arrived broken. No amount of emails and calls and requests managed to get any results from the insurance he had paid for.

A year later he hit an online forum to share his terrible experience with others. The very same day he was contacted by the president of the company and had the money in his bank account.

This was his eureka moment. He saw the shift in power from the companies to the people and individual customers.

Leaning on his experience of building help desks before he set out to build his own first product, Freshdesk which would later rebrand to Freshworks.

Building A Global Digital Business

Girish quickly assembled a team of six to develop the product. Finding product-market fit wasn’t much of a challenge. What appeared more challenging was to build a big business with this out of Chennai, India, and to ever hope of being fundable at the VC level.

After nine months of development, they launched. Within 30 days they had their first customer. It happened to be a college in Australia. Their first six customers represented businesses on four different continents. They had instantly gone international. They were doing it all remotely. This was back well before most thought of going 100% remote.

After hitting 100 customers in their first 100 days, and doubling that in the following 100 days, they got noticed by investors. Accel and Tiger Global gave them a few million dollars.

While they were doing well in the SMB sector with this remote business model, and even gained large international franchise clients, they saw they were missing out on a lot of business.

Many bigger companies were just used to being sold in person and doing face to face meetings. They weren’t the type to search for Google and buy software online.

So, they began setting up small teams and offices in Europe, Australia, and the US.

Today, they have 3,000 employees, across 13 offices, with customers spanning 126 countries.

They expanded their product line and kept adding services for small to enterprise businesses.

For others thinking about their own startups, Girish’s top advice includes to just go for it. If you are scared of becoming an entrepreneur, accept that it is hard, but look at how many others are doing it successfully. You can too. Learn how to learn, and start doing.

It has worked out well for Girish and Freshworks. They’ve already raised almost $400M, from tier 1 investors including CapitalG and Sequoia. Storytelling is everything which is something that Girish was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The best practices for pulling off a rebranding
  • What was more important than the money when bringing in these top VCs
  • How the Freshworks Software Academy is lifting kids out of poverty
  • How a high valuation helps your startup
  • How they turned a Twitter attack into an epic PR moment
  • The concept of Indian Democratic Design
  • Alternate design models

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