Me and now—how the 'Amazon effect' is impacting on MTO manufacturers

The previous blog in this series looked at how a mass customization approach can help make-to-order (MTO) manufacturers more efficiently meet the personalization needs of today's business buyers.

By making and delivering customized products—whether through mass customization or other MTO processes—MTO manufacturers may feel shielded from another prevalent market trend: the so-called Amazon effect. After all, if you're manufacturing precisely the personalized product the buyer wants, why would they go elsewhere?

The truth of the matter is, however, that business buyers increasingly expect a purchasing experience that's as close as possible to that of a consumer—one that's based around 'me' and 'now'. They want to be able to research, order and configure items online—with no need to phone up or exchange emails or faxes. And once they place their order, they want to be able to track its status online—and receive it by the promised delivery date.

Easy to do business with

No matter how specialized or customized the products an MTO manufacturer makes, that may no longer be enough to retain customers. The additional challenge is to be as easy as possible to do business with.

That means having the agility to react quickly to new customer requests and orders. Improving day-to-day processes—such as increasing productivity through better alignment of resources with demand, and developing a more responsive supplier network—can deliver meaningful improvements in production scheduling that translate to shorter delivery timeframes.

Above all, it means giving customers the buying experience they want, to drive customer loyalty and win new business. A study found that 81 percent of business buyers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. 77 percent are ready to share good customer experiences with others; and 74 percent will actually pay more to get a better customer experience.

Capitalize on the Amazon effect

If you're looking to capitalize on the Amazon effect to boost your business, you'll be thinking about:

  • Providing online capabilities for customers to design and configure products, and place and track orders
  • Ensuring you and your teams can respond quickly to customer queries at any time

One way to make great strides is to implement a manufacturing-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that's designed to help you provide customers with Amazon-like self-service capabilities.

You'll want to look for a solution that incorporates eCommerce functionality and the ability to create configurator portals. An ERP solution that provides mobile capabilities will enable you and your teams to answer customers' queries at any time, from any location. And if your ERP solution integrates customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities, you'll be able to gain a 360-degree view of each customer relationship that empowers you to put customers at the center of your business—just as they expect.

Discover more

Find out how Rainier Industries, a manufacturer of custom display, shade and shelter products, is driving growth with a B2B digital commerce strategy based on Epicor ERP.

To learn how MTO manufacturers are meeting the challenges of globalization, click through to the next blog in this series.