The Supply Chain E-Commerce Guide (Plus, D2C Sales Tips)

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Manufacturing, distribution, and wholesale businesses that also want to compete in the supply chain e-commerce arena face a number of challenges.

Supply chain challenges demand attention, but so do customer satisfaction issues. So, how can manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers meet these challenges?
Sana Commerce is dedicated to helping those in the above-named industries leverage their technology to provide seamless e-commerce operations that will deliver the quality and reliability of products and services that customers will appreciate and will reward with their loyalty.

Here are some of the issues involved in supply chain e-commerce

Most manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers agree on common business and e-commerce goals, but they don’t always agree on how best to achieve them. We’ve collected data over the last three years, and the results are eye-opening.

When asked what business goals it would be important for their e-commerce solution to support:

  • 87% said it should personalize the customer’s buying experience
  • 85% said it should support sales staff
  • 85% said it should generate new revenue
  • 81% said it should reduce the cost of sales
  • 80% said it should support innovation
  • 74% said it should play a key role in the organization’s digital transformation strategy


D2C and Rise of the Millennial

According to our recent research, nearly half of B2B organizations, believe that, if done right, e-commerce can improve the overall customer experience and benefit their company’s bottom line.

Positive customer experience (CX), trust, and relationships are, not surprisingly, among the top focus areas for manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers who hope to succeed at e-commerce. Supply chain partners rely on each other and on the stability of their long-term customer relationships for their business success. Keeping those relationships healthy and secure should be a priority.

What are B2B buyers struggling with?

Again according to our surveys, 53% of manufacturers, 53% of wholesalers, and 63% of distributors say they would like to make most of their purchases online.

To understand how to capture this revenue, it’s not enough to just get your business online. You have to master the kind of e-commerce experiences your customers want. The data tells us that most B2B organizations that are prioritizing customer experience are introducing things like custom pricing and personalized product catalogs to their web store. But, accomplishing those goals is not without challenges.

Challenge #1: Order Errors and Data Inaccuracy

Despite the goal of engaging and buying online, B2B buyers are often hindered by data inaccuracy and order errors made by their vendors. 74% of manufacturers, 83% of wholesalers, and 81% of distributors say they experience a 25% or more reduction in efficiency, productivity, or sales due to the frequency of online errors encountered by buyers using their e-commerce sites.

These statistics highlight the importance of data quality and data maintenance.

Challenge #2: Lack of Systems Integration, Multiple Databases

Whether it’s a lack of up-to-date technology (41%) or a reluctance to embrace new ideas and processes (39%), most B2B organizations feel that holdovers from the past are the two main obstacles they face in their journey toward digitization.

An ERP-integrated solution, like Sana Commerce’s, ensures that your web store always populates real-time data, such as product and inventory information. It also uses your ERP system as a single, central data hub, or “single source of truth” to minimize data inaccuracies and eliminate data silos.

Challenge #3: Direct-to-Consumer Sales

The third and final challenge is, in many ways, also an opportunity: expansion into direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales. While many manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers worry that D2C sales will open new areas of competition with their buyers, it also offers a considerable advantage to the vendors who can successfully expand into a D2C business model.

But even without expanding their business models, B2B businesses can still see plenty of positive results from investing in an online sales channel. Those that are already taking advantage of e-commerce systems have experienced significant benefits.


According to our research, businesses with an efficient online e-commerce site see ROI (Return on Investment) within the first year. They also experience, on average, a 22% increase in revenue growth, and a 21% increase in profitability. 91% also say that their e-commerce solution has improved sales order process efficiency.

More supply chain e-commerce and D2C sales insights...

To learn more about the benefits and challenges of supply chain e-commerce, download our latest whitepaper, Supply Chain E-Commerce: The Essentials Guide.


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