instagramlinkedinfacebooktwittercustomizationconfigurationsamplesblog postcase studyarrow rightarrow left
Skip to the main content

How a Manufacturer Digitally Enables Distribution Channels with Multi-Store Ecommerce

Shifting Manufacturer and Distributor Relationships

The typical manufacturer-sells-to-distributor-sells-to-consumer model is no longer as simple and intuitive as it sounds. As online selling increases its dominance in the B2B market, dealers and distributors are experiencing pressure when manufacturers decide to apply a direct-to-consumer selling model.

Most manufacturers with beneficial distributor or dealer relationships realize that cutting ties and selling directly is not always constructive. However, running things the way it always has run is not practical either. Both manufacturers and distribution partners must adapt to changing customer expectations. Working jointly can be a fruitful option, but it can be challenging as many ecommerce platforms are geared toward a singular B2C or B2B use case.

Manufacturers need the ability to quickly enable distribution partners with lower digital maturities, setting up web stores for the distribution partner’s customers to shop manufacturer’s products. Additionally, manufacturers need to be able to syndicate product information to partners at a higher digital maturity to ensure a universal digital product experience. Digital maturity, contract obligations and product information management create some of the greatest challenges for manufacturers seeking to enable distribution channels.

Channel Enablement Challenges

A manufacturer may pursue a B2B2X business model to support its channel partners and stimulate internal growth. However, challenges arise when manufacturers try to build a cost-effective system to meet product information and order management demands while acknowledging contractual obligations. This problem requires a system with flexible architecture that addresses unforeseen scenarios posed by the B2B2X model and scales as business expands.

Digital Maturity Tiers
According to a Distribution Strategy Group report, "89% of manufacturers said many distributors lack the competitive digital capabilities they are looking for in a channel partner." Manufacturers have to manage relationships with distributors and dealers of varying digital maturity. Higher-tier channel partners may have ecommerce platforms and marketplace syndication tools to generate digital commerce. Lower-tier partners may not even have a website for product inquiries. Manufacturers need to identify an ecommerce strategy that will enable all channels and bring more recognition to the products and brand.

Contractual Obligations
Manufacturers have pricing, inventory, order, and product support agreements that vary from partner to partner. When these agreements cannot be reflected on the customer-facing website, frustration ensues. Some manufacturers try to solve this problem by obtaining separate ecommerce websites, with independent databases, for each partner. This silos data and keeps operations from functioning inefficiently. Discover how a Znode customer eliminated data silos and increased speed-to-market for new partners.

Product Information Alignment
Dealers and distributors need to show customers accurate product details to inform purchasing decisions. At the same time, manufacturers require a centralized data source, such as a PIM system, to keep information consistent across all stores and channels. Manufacturers seeking to enable channels would benefit from the ability to create and manage digital catalogs to be personalized and deployed to distributors’ web stores. Without a centralized PIM system or catalog-creation for segments, manufacturers and distributors often deal with lower conversion rates and higher returns due to order errors.

How Multi-Store Solves Channel Issues

Channel enablement is possible for manufacturers and master distributors. A multi-store ecommerce approach addresses each of the aforementioned challenges and adds value even beyond.

Accommodating Digital Maturity Tiers
With a multi-store ecommerce platform such as Znode, each channel partner experiences ecommerce success despite different degrees of digital maturity. Manufacturers can create web stores for distributors and dealers as similar a customer experience or as different as needed. If a distributor requires more digital configuration than another distribution partner, a manufacturer may accommodate that within Znode.

Meeting Contractual Obligations
All of Znode’s store features are configurable for the individual stores a manufacturer may set up. Contractual partner agreements regarding product offerings, pricing, fulfillment, and other aspects of ecommerce are honored while still maintaining efficiency. Some ecommerce solutions require multiple licenses or complex integrations to manage stores for different partners. Znode offers a straightforward setup of entirely separate stores.

Managing Product Information
As a manufacturer launches multiple stores, products appearing on each site depend upon the catalog that has been applied to the store. Manufacturers may create a specific catalog for each partner, create a catalog to share across multiple stores, or even allow one store to have more than one catalog. This is possible as all product information and data originates from Znode’s native PIM system. Znode can also pass product information to distribution partners of a higher digital maturity via a catalog XML feed so that the product information is delivered with brand context.

Managing Order Processes
Znode’s order management system brings together data from all channels in the operation for seamless commerce. A manufacturer can personalize pricing, payment, and fulfillment for each distribution channel and segmented customer group, ultimately improving the customer experience.

With comprehensive product management and order management, a multi-store ecommerce solution solves the needs of manufacturers, distributors/dealers and end-customers. Znode is that solution.

A Distribution Channel Enablement Story

Many manufacturers are successfully deploying a multi-store ecommerce strategy with partners. One example is Hyster-Yale Group (HYG), a leading global lift truck manufacturer and materials handling company. HYG needed to digitally support its customers and large dealer network. The manufacturer was searching for a platform that could align brand selection, product identification, order placement, and fulfillment for each dealer.

HYG selected Znode as the ecommerce platform to manage a B2B2X business model using multi-store. Order routing, fulfillment, and multiple catalogs were personalized for each of HYG’s partners. HYG’s multiple brands were represented in the catalogs which allowed the company and dealers to better cater to customer expectations.

“Ecommerce for us is the means to support our dealers, by offering online parts ordering to all of their customers, regardless of the digital capabilities of each dealer.”

- Kellie Casey, Aftersales Communications and Ecommerce at Hyster-Yale Group

As manufacturers in different industries move towards B2B2X business models, establishing a multi-store ecommerce platform is necessary in order to meet partners at the appropriate digital level and enable personalized experiences for each partner’s customers. The Znode ecommerce platform is designed to function as the center of commerce for businesses, allowing manufacturers to enable channels through multi-store ecommerce.

Enable a powerful multi-channel ecommerce strategy today. Request a Znode demo.

Interested in Znode?
Let's Talk.

Get ready to get more out of an ecommerce platform.

Request A Demo