Manufacturing: 7 Ways to Gain Competitive Advantage

Adobe Stock / Andrei Merkulov
Manufacturing: 7 Ways to Gain Competitive Advantage
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Customers and distributors crave greater productivity and efficiency, and cost cutting alone no longer provides a strong enough competitive advantage. Top manufacturers have prioritized digital experiences in order to differentiate themselves. As a result, industry leaders who have invested in digital transformations are redefining success and reaping the rewards.

7 ways top manufacturers are gaining competitive advantages.

Attract attention from channel partners: Essilor of America — a subsidiary of Essilor international with more than 58,000 employees located in more than 62 countries — provides various types of eyeglass lenses through independent eyecare professionals. Although the company offered superior technology, it didn’t receive the attention it required from resellers until it embarked on a digital transformation journey.

A new digital marketing platform and assistance from interactive marketing agency Razorfish helped the company build awareness for its brands by building a platform that streamlines marketing efforts globally. Essilor can now launch new products using a single set of templates and components, but with a personal touch for each brand. As a result, potential partner searches increased by 46 percent and engagement has more than doubled.

“We really wanted to empower marketing teams to take ownership over their campaigns and author new content that fits with the global content,” says Vasan Sundar, Razorfish group vice president of technology. “They can share best practices that have been proven to work throughout the entire organization at a fraction of the cost.”

Speed order processing: The order-to-cash cycle is critical for manufacturers. A lengthy transition period means more opportunity for a potential customer or distributor to change their mind. It was a risk Kuhn Krause — a leading manufacturer of commercial agricultural equipment that offers 2,000 machines and service parts to its more than 350 dealers across the U.S. and Canada — could not afford, as it relies on clear orders to meet specific customer requirements. Therefore, it invested in a digital platform that offers secure and reliable e-signatures to eliminate costly errors.

“Accuracy, clarity, and speed of the ordering process are critical to our business,” says Curt Davis, Kuhn Krause marketing manager. “Digital experiences changed the entire process, managing order placement, transmission, and approval routing. The ordering process was cut from a minimum of two days to only 30 minutes. We were also able to manage and track orders much more efficiently, and eliminated lost orders,” he says.

Develop a digital showroom: Franke Group — a global equipment manufacturer for kitchens and bathrooms located in more than 100 countries — set out to build a brand based on emotions rather than products. As a result, it overhauled its digital marketing approach. Working with implementation vendor One-Inside, Franke instituted a transformed digital platform to enable responsive web designs and a virtual reality digital showroom unique to the industry. The company’s efforts have paid off, as time spent on websites increased by 40 percent while churn dropped by 15 percent.

“We used to produce our kitchens for an anonymous market. Now we are getting to know our customers and put them at the center of the entire company,” says Renato Di Rubbo, CMO of Franke Group and Franke Kitchen Systems. “We are now able to delight them with emotional experiences,” he says.

Cut translation time and costs: For global companies, translation of marketing, sales, support, and other materials is critical. Technology manufacturing leader Royal Philips reaches customers in 79 markets and 38 languages. Success requires materials and experiences are available in multiple languages.

As a result, Phillips heavily invested in digital transformation. It created a new digital platform to empower its more than 500 content authors. The company’s goal was to standardize how dynamic content was created, delivered, and localized to support its products and brands. Phillips successfully transformed 1 million properties that receive 1.4 billion annual page views — and the investment paid off. Its new platform cut translation time by 75 percent and associated costs by 90 percent

“Transforming digital marketing was a natural next step for Phillips,” says Joost van Dun, Philips’ .com manager for corporate experience. “Integrated digital capabilities gave authors, marketers, and brand teams all of the capabilities to get enhanced content and experiences to market quickly.”

Reduce maintenance burdens: Maxim Integrated is a top semiconductor manufacturer with more than 9,000 products on its website. Engineers depend on its site to provide the information and tools necessary for critical design decisions. However, internally developed digital infrastructure didn’t integrate well with other software — and Maxim’s productivity and customer service suffered.

Ultimately, Maxim created a real-time integrated digital ecosystem capable of matching products with customer’s needs. Its new digital platform made it easy for web development and marketing teams to deliver what customers needed — reduced research cycles and improved experiences.

“Our goal was to create a website that enabled us to efficiently lead customers through the design process with added value along the way,” says Robert Reneau, Maxim digital marketing director. “We designed our new website to help our audience make fast decisions. We wanted to improve the online experience for our customers, partners, and internal team looking for recommend solutions.”

Build the brand experience: Schindler Group — a global manufacturer of elevators and escalators with more than 46,000 employees, wanted a digital presence that increased excitement and engagement for its customers and prospects.

“In some markets our drop-off rates were high — people weren’t spending enough time on the websites, limiting the impact of our messages and the effectiveness of our sites,” says Michael M. Schmidt, head of employee and customer communications at Schindler. “We began a strategic initiative to totally renew our websites and shift our focus from being company-centric to providing a customer-centric web experience.”

As a result, it invested in a new web content management and digital asset management platform — which accommodates mobile devices and more than 25 languages. The digital platform combined with the shift in strategy achieved positive site survey results, with 60 percent of respondents saying they would recommend Schindler websites to others. In addition, all sites were aligned with brand identity standards, content creation and publishing were simplified, and more frequent updates for improved search engine rankings.

Maintain creativity and flexibility at the local level: Henkel Adhesive Technologies, a global manufacturing company with more than 47,000 employees, sought to direct consumers into stores by providing project ideas and advice on solving problems. As a result, it developed a modular website that balanced global brand and customization needs by creating more than 90 websites in 20 languages — which are personalized for local audiences.

“We can enable local managers to stay focused on developing timely content for their audiences, instead of having to deal with more complex technical challenges,” says Salima Douven, Henkel’s global head of digital strategy for adhesive technologies.

Digital transformation is the key to manufacturing success. Leaders who invest in digital experiences will have a substantial advantage over their competitors. However, you will need the right platform and strategy to make it work.

Read more in our series on creating Digital Experiences for Manufacturing or learn about Adobe’s solutions here.

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