This is an excerpt from Rohan’s recent interview on IndustrialSage podcast. You could view the complete video here

Manufacturers, distributors and brand owners in North America and globally have come to realize the immense opportunity online commerce presents for their business growth. However, in my observation there is a big gap between knowing and executing. Most businesses are still putting together their ‘why’ for e-commerce.

In my recent podcast interview with Danny Gonzales on IndustrialSage, I have tried to give the directional guidance for the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ to get started on the journey.

You are welcome to watch the complete video and leave your comments and thoughts on the same. I will be more than happy to have a conversation with you. Here are the edited excerpts from the interview for a quick glance

How did UpstartWorks came to be?

Danny: Great. So, E-commerce is a little topic. It’s a little hot right now. But before we kind of jump into all that stuff, tell me a little bit about your background, how did you get started into this space? What’s your background?

Rohan : Look my background is traditional industrial sales. I grew up in the B2B industrial sales distribution space. Focused on selling industrial commercial products to large enterprise customers. Really five, seven years ago as I was in front of customers talking about a product I continuously found that the customers were listening to me, talking about whether it’s a commercial lighting product or whether it’s power tools, pneumatic tools, they really wanted social proof, right? They really wanted to see what other people were saying about this product. And they turn to the web and specifically, they turn to Amazon to see what people are saying about this product and how they were using it, different applications.

And that really was kind of the genesis of the business. For me, it was kind of a light bulb went off and said, “Wow, this customer who was buying product for a large enterprise is still turning to a platform that historically was really just meant for individual consumers to buy a cell phone case or an iPhone charger.” And that really was the genesis of the company.

Why is now the right time for businesses to focus on e-commerce?

Danny: What are some of the signs or some of those pain points where some of these manufacturers are saying, “Okay yeah, we need to start looking.” What are those triggers, where they start saying, okay we knew it was a problem before but now this happened, or these series of events are happening and now we want to start making action. What does that look like?

Rohan: I think when we look at it, in going into 2020 there’s a lot of research done that says as high as 75% of B2B buyers are wanting to transact online, okay? However, a very small portion of them are doing it because first, product availability. There’s a lot of industrial products that’s just not available online. So, the customer is forced to go buy through a traditional distribution channel.

Secondly, and this is a big one: if the product is available online, the product details are not enough, there isn’t good content. The reviews are not necessarily well managed. The customer Q&As are not necessarily well responded to. So, it doesn’t give the customer confidence that okay, if I’m going to go buy a $1600 circuit tracer online, do I have the confidence that this is truly being sold by the brand owner, the manufacturer, right? Because there’s so many third-party sellers out there that are selling products. Oftentimes you have customers buying the product from some third-party sellers and then when it’s not working or it’s not what they expected, sending the product back to the manufacturer saying, “Hey this is your branded product. It’s not what I ordered; it’s not working.” So that’s one thing that’s happening, one of, but it’s a big challenge.

And third, I think mobile is also being a big driver in terms of forcing some traditional commercial industrial brands to look at E-commerce because 40% of E-commerce transactions are on mobile now. And on mobile, it’s so much easier to get the social proof even when compared to just desktop because you can just switch over to YouTube and look at a YouTube video on how to use a specific product that might be traditionally complicated. So, access of information that’s being created put out there from other users who are using this product, is a big driver of why a lot of the traditional brands are really looking to sort of get footprints on E-commerce and mobile. And if they are not, they should start like really quickly.

How do businesses get started?

Danny: What are some things maybe you ought to prepare for that, what of they need to have or not have? How do you make that transition?

Rohan: I think our recommendation always is don’t try to boil the whole ocean. Start small. Because it is a lot of work. Content is a big driver. So not just your very traditional product related, technical product related data, but also having the intelligence around, okay well how are people searching for our products? Searches are different on desktop vs mobile. So, making sure that we’re incorporating all that search intelligence into product bullet points, descriptions. Having multiple product images. One or two product images just don’t cut it now. Having at least five product images, application images if possible. Videos, even better.

So, first content. Second piece is really figuring out what is the right platform. I think that also drives a lot of discoverability. A great example of this, is the launch of brand based in the safety PPE space. They make work boots – for large manufacturing facility or a food processing facility, you wear these boots. For the longest time, these products were traditionally just procured from MRO distributors. UpstartWorks launched this brand about 90 days ago on Amazon and they’ve seen significant sales increase 30 days after we’d launched them. This reaffirms that these very traditional B2B buyers are relatively, quickly migrating to e-commerce platforms. And having the products where your customers are shopping for your products is critically important.

You can watch the complete interview here. Here’s a quick time-stamp view for you to quickly jump to points of interest –

  • 1.28 – About UpstartWorks
  • 2.08 – Why UpstartWorks exist
  • 5.17 – Triggers for B2B e-commerce
  • 10.33 – Steps to start the process to be e-commerce ready
  • 13.40 – Real world challenges in transformation
  • 16.50 – Recommendations for content strategy
  • 20.06 – All about the customer – relevancy
  • 22.30 – Customer obsessed
  • 24.20 –Be the underdog
  • 25.05 – 2020 recommendations

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