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What’s in store for digitalisation in 2021!

February 2, 2021
Top predictions for digitalisaton

Data experts look to the future

We invited our 9 Affiliated Solution Providers –  software businesses involved in the management, syndication and optimisation of data – to cristalise their professional expertise and deliver three predictions for the year ahead.

  1. Top prediction in 2021 for digitalising the UK’s electrotechnical sector;
  2. One hot tip for Manufacturers, and
  3. One hot tip for Wholesalers

Here’s what each had to say.

Top predictions for digitalisaton
Do you agree with their predictions?

In alphabetical order: click + to reveal their predictions in full

b2b.store logos
They offer
  • eCommerce website
  • eCommerce app
  • Consultancy
Their expert

Rob Mannion
Founder and CEO
01926 298867

Top Prediction for 2021: eCommerce acceleration...

More electrical wholesalers will invest in eCommerce than ever before due to COVID accelerating the need.

Advice for Manufacturers: product imagery makes a big difference...

With fewer people visiting bricks and mortar stores it is important to take advantage of the opportunities to advertise and communicate with electricians through digital channels.

And work closely with the product database owners such as EDATA to ensure your product imagery is of a suitable standard to be used in eCommerce.

Advice for Wholesalers: cost-effective subscription systems...

It is no longer necessary to invest tens of thousands of pounds in complex eCommerce systems. B2B focused subscription based systems are increasingly available which allow you to get online fast and cost-effectively.

b2b.store has already integrated with the EDATA system removing one of the biggest barriers to getting online.

Because of our heritage as an app development company our eCommerce platform is designed for mobile first. Something that is critical given electricians use their phones so much. It works seamlessly across mobile, tablet and desktop.

Comma Group
They offer
  • Consultancy
Their expert

Stuart Squires
Consulting Director
07467 441466

Top Prediction for 2021: ability to collaborate around data...

Covid has sharpened the focus not only on the importance of trading online, but the ability for teams to collaborate whilst building the data around products.

Asking someone to quickly fix an incorrect packaging dimension is no longer something that can be done over a coffee.

“Emergency” remote processes have been put in place and checks shouldn’t be forgotten when everyone is back in the office, but built upon and systemised.

Advice for Manufacturers: adopt an industry standard...

Put effort into fitting your data to an industry standard. In this way you can start to service the data requirements of lots of your customers in one hit, rather than either having to provide different spreadsheets to different ones or just not giving them what they want.

Advice for Wholesalers: prepare to receive ETIM data...

Set up so you can receive ETIM formatted data directly from your suppliers, or from the data pool.

Having the data formatted and checked for errors before you get it means less time checking it yourself.

eCommonSense is an Affiliated Solution Provider at the EDA
They offer
  • PIM
  • eCommerce website
  • Consultancy
Their expert

Andy Scothern
07920 015885

Top Prediction for 2021: dropship and aisle integration crucial...

Dropship and endless aisle integration will become ever more important for businesses with an eCommerce website in order that they can compete with the big eTailers.

Advice for Manufacturers: check your solution is B2B engineered...

Get trading online with a good B2B eCommerce solution ASAP and use a solution that translates the merchant business model online and not a retail eCommerce solution, as that will not work well with the rest of the business.

Advice for Wholesalers: don't DIY...

Don’t build it yourself, as it takes ages and requires a huge team.

Stick to your core competency when it comes to your business and use the market to provide anything that sits outside of core business activity.

Kerridge commercial Systems is an Affiliated Solutions Provider of the EDA
They offer
  • PIM
  • ERP
  • eCommerce website
  • eCommerce app
  • Consultancy
Their expert

James Mitchell
MD, UK & Ireland
01488 662000

Top Prediction for 2021: fundamental changes to the way you service your customers' needs...

Accelerated adoption of digital solutions that promote efficiency and sustainability, with a particular growth in the deployment of eCommerce solutions.

The onslaught of Covid 19 has really focused people’s attention on the benefits that eCommerce can bring to a business. We can see that those who had a digital strategy in place from the outset have been far more successful than those without. This is not only about a website – it’s about fundamental changes in the way that you service your customer’s needs.

As soon as the pandemic took hold, everyone had little choice but to adapt to the changing circumstances. The internet became the go-to place to make purchases, communicate with friends, family and colleagues, and importantly to do business.  It is important to appreciate that this trend towards eBusiness was already growing in popularity prior to the pandemic but, as history shows us, times of crisis tend to hasten the pace of change that was already happening in society. Get your business on the right platform now, you can’t really afford to wait!

Advice for Manufacturers: does your product data elevate you from the competition?...

Focus on the production of rich, quality data for your customers – your fellow EDA members! Throw your full support behind the ETIM initiative!

As the trend towards the adoption of eCommerce solutions gathers pace, it is vital that contractors have access to information that helps them to self-serve. Although not a full replacement for the in-branch customer service experience that so many enjoy, contractors will need to be able to identify the right products for the job online and have the option to click and collect or select delivery.

If the product specific data is not available for them online, this presents a huge challenge! For you as a manufacturer, do you want contractors to select your competitors’ products simply because they don’t have a full understanding of what you can offer? By making product data readily available to your fellow members, you can ensure that you remain competitive as the digital landscape evolves!

Advice for Wholesalers: digital technologies that drive customer service...

Focus on your digital strategy: do it now if you are not already on the journey, don’t wait!

Remember, it’s not just about a getting a website in place, it is far broader than that (although eCommerce has to be a central component of a good digital strategy). Your market needs to not only be aware that you are on the web, but also of what you have to offer. Don’t rely on customers just finding you on the internet, promote your presence! Make sure you utilise the available tools and services to make your business stand out on the web. If you don’t have the in-house skills to do this, work closely with your partner to help with this part of the journey– it will pay dividends!

Your business must also evolve to service the needs of your customers as we all adapt to the new norm and new ways of doing business. From simple tasks such as booking in goods, picking through to despatch, and delivery confirmation to your customer, you should think about how you can gain the efficiencies you will need through adopting digital technologies that really drive customer service.

Although this pandemic has physically forced us apart, in many ways it has also brought us closer together. The cloud has enabled many of us to do all this seamlessly – look at how many businesses have been able to adapt quickly to staff working from home and are still delivering effectively for their business. The cloud has presented an opportunity to centralise information and share data from wherever you are – it must play a key part in the building of your future strategy.

Creating efficiencies is no longer just about saving time and money. It’s also become about adopting new ways of working that will minimise human contact and allow you to continue providing great customer service. Minimising paperwork has now become a safety issue as much as an environmental one, and there are tools available that will allow you to make the shift to the digital age.

Remember, sustainability and profitability go hand in hand. Adopting technologies that enable you to reduce transport costs, energy consumption and waste all make both economic and environmental sense.

Intact Software
They offer
  • PIM
  • ERP
  • eCommerce website
  • Consultancy
Their expert

Mark Gurney
UK Sales Director
01442 878 879
Email 

Top Prediction for 2021: real-time control and visibility...

With current advances available in API technology electrical wholesalers can more easily integrate all of the technology solutions they use whether it be ERP, e-commerce, mobile applications, EDI, PIMs databases etc. to ensure data is shared and controlled in one location providing real-time control and visibility across the business.

Advice for Wholesalers: does your software faciliate or hinder business growth?...

Review the software applications you are using to run your business. If you have to work around your systems, manually check invoices, product updates, etc. then your business software is failing your business.

In today’s digital age your business software is mission-critical. It has the ability to provide you and your team with the automation, control and intelligence capabilities that eradicate the need to police every aspect of your business allowing you to spend more time growing it.

NG15 Ltd
They offer
  • PIM
  • eCommerce website
  • Catalogue design and e-catalogues, websites, other design services
Their expert

Suzanne Adgar
Director
07795 836194

Top Prediction for 2021: streamline to maximise revenue...

Our top prediction is that this year many UK electrotechnical businesses will consider digitalisation as a ‘top priority’ and a priority investment, so they can streamline operations, reduce costs and maximise revenue.

Digital solutions will replace traditional manual methods and older systems will be replaced with the adoption of B2B platforms, product information management systems (PIM) and CRM systems, along with API technology. This is required by a technically challenged industry that finds itself with new competitor such as Amazon.

Advice for Manufacturers: product data must be readily available...

A manufacturer needs to ensure their product data is readily available in the correct format for multi-channel usage by their customers.

Advice for Wholesalers: check your level of commitment...

Digitalisation is only required if wholesalers wish to engage in multi-channel sales to their customer base, old and new. They will need to commit to a level of investment equivalent to a salesperson for a year to achieve this. Our advice would be to invest in the correct tools that aid customers to spend money with them, such as CRM, a webstore, e-catalogues and Product Information Management (PIM) system.

For the best possible industry advise, we suggest you contact the EDA or NG15 for free advice.

OrderWise logo
They offer
  • PIM
  • ERP
  • Ecommerce website
Their expert

Jon Roberts
Head of Sales
01522 442047 

Top Prediction for 2021: accelerated changing landscape...

In 2021 it is clear that the electrotechnical sector will continue to deal with ongoing headwinds that were present in 2020.

Being able to deal with shifts in buying behaviour caused by the ongoing pandemic is key, as well as transitioning through adjustments and possible disruption caused by Brexit will – in particular ensuring that supply and distribution are managed in a more coordinated way between different departments and external partners is critical.

Central to success will be an ongoing programme of digital transformation for businesses, across all operational areas  – to increase operational efficiency as well as meeting changing buyer behaviours in both b2c and b2b markets.  This is not just about weathering the current storm, but being ready for an accelerated changing landscape post pandemic.

In relation to Brexit we are also seeing a growing trend of companies setting up warehousing and distribution within Europe as part of their strategy for adjusting to Brexit – this will also require a digital / data strategy to incorporate this successfully into ongoing operations.

Advice for Manufacturers: you don't need to increase overheads to increase efficiency...

With constant changes in demand and supply chain issues, Manufacturers need to give themselves the best possible chance of capitalising on ever changing requirements and ensure that their digital strategy supports their ability to be flexible in this ever-changing market.  In particular:  being able to deal with fluctuations in both the costs of stock and shipping will be key to understanding overall profitability.

Optimising efficiency to meet your order fulfilment requirements is key – using technology to improve this rather than increasing overheads such as the number of people required – for example being able to record goods in and pick components using handheld terminals.

Ensuring you minimise miscalculations and losses with total visibility of stock and demand dates across locations and sales channels will also be key to sustained profitability and growth.

We are also seeing manufacturers across a wide range of sector who are now looking at their own online channels and trading to provide alternative sales routes for their b2b customers.

Advice for Wholesalers: are you on top of all areas of stock and order management?...

Ensure that you consider all elements of your business – now and in the future – as well as your customer journey when you are considering digital transformation. Having a clear understanding of your requirements is important in selecting the right tools and partners to help you with such a business-critical project.

Digital transformation should not be restricted to just a single area of your business – it is often the ability to work productively between departments and with external partners, suppliers and customers that causes the biggest friction and inefficiency in a business.

We created a handy guide to considering digital transformation.  In particular, with supply disruption and increased international freight costs already being seen in 2021 – ensuring your digital transformation deals with all aspects of your stock and order management is key – particularly in ensuring that you are able to:

  1. Meet order fulfilment requirements consistently and cost effectively. Moving forward your digital strategy should include the ability to record goods in or pick components using handheld terminals (HHTs), removing the need for manual rekeying and paper-based tasks.
  2. Track and allocate your stock and works orders in real-time, rapidly verifying storage requirements and give your sales and purchasing teams a clear, consistent view to maximise opportunities for your business.
  3. Avoid miscalculations and losses with total visibility of stock and demand dates across locations and sales channels.
  4. Ensure you have easy access to supplier lead times and accurate forecasting and reporting abilities, so you can ensure you have the necessary stock to ensure production isn’t delayed and keep sales maximised.  In terms of meeting changing customer demand and behaviour you should be looking at automating your online trading, as well as an integrated system that eliminates overselling by integrating your existing websites and online marketplaces.
They offer
  • PIM
  • Ecommerce website
  • Ecommerce app
  • Consultancy
Their expert

Wayne Jarvis
Business Developer
07485 403918

Top Prediction for 2021: more traction with manufacturers...

You will begin to see much more traction with manufacturers within the electrotechnical sector to adopt the ETIM model and the classification of product data.

As businesses adopt digital transformation, businesses will start to focus on the update their ERP, eCommerce and PIM platforms to maximise on digitalisation and sales growth.

More focus will be applied to webshops, product data enrichment, logistics and warehousing. Sharing of quality data to EDATA and wholesalers will only boom!

Advice for Manufacturers: adopt a scaleable and powerful PIM...

Delivering high-quality article information on time is time-consuming, error-prone and could be complicated for manufacturers. And the demands of wholesalers are getting higher. That’s why my advice is to adopt a PIM (Product Information Management) solution that is scalable and has a powerful search engine.

A PIM that has integrator tools with ERP, eCommerce platforms and EDATA, such as DataprocessorTJ. Digitalisation is only going to grow in the B2B sector. So thinking ahead is key and not just for current needs. Adopt the ETIM model and use a PIM provider with ETIM expertise to help and support. As enrichment of data is key to business growth.

Advice for Wholesalers: enriched product data and ETIM...

The increasing popularity of webshops requires complete, and at all times up to date product information. After all, this is essential for achieving a high conversion rate of your webshop. As a solution, my advice is to onboard your suppliers and manufacturers to adopt new ways of working. To adopt ETIM and to enrich product data even more. Sharing qualitative data and assets is key for a business to promote and sell products online.

The more detail the product description and ETIM technical features, more likely a customer can search and find a product they are looking for.

Wholesalers who have an existing PIM solution or requiring a PIM solution, to actively promote the benefits of a PIM to Manufacturers. The sharing of data using API’s or BMEcat imports and exports provide seamless data transfer from Manufacturers to EDATA and the wholesaler.

They offer
  • PIM
  • Consultancy
  • Content creation, management, syndication and optimisation
Their expert

Ashley Brooks
Business Development Director – UK
07475 572 027

Top Prediction for 2021: interactive images...

Digitalisation will only increase with more and more systems moving online.

With this increase, Manufacturers may create more service-oriented content to stand out, including 360-degree visualizations, interactive images with text and installation/demonstration video.

Advice for Manufacturers: completeness and accuracy...

Content completeness and accuracy are both important!

Remember to follow ETIM guidelines to ensure your content is complete and accurate, and review Wholesaler requirements as well to ensure any additional required content is included.

Advice for Wholesalers: data integration across your business...

Look within your organisation and ask; who else can use digitised product information?

By understanding these needs across the organization, one can gain efficiencies by integrating data needs through a single platform if possible.

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