Digital transformation is a growing buzzword in distribution. But what exactly do distributors need to transform? Rethink the product-first focus of your website, for starters. That’s the advice of Andrew Walker, CEO of digital marketing firm Shift7 Digital. Working often with manufacturers and distributors, Walker explains in an MDM podcast that there is great opportunity in shifting your online focus to the intentions of your customer or prospect.
That means addressing elements such as the pain points that are likely to lead a customer to seek out your products in the first place. Could they be facing a problem on the job? An inventory issue? Just got a new contract? Brought on a new employee? Write about that on your site, says Walker. “All these things are moments that precede the product,” he says. “And it also is an opportunity to differentiate themselves from an experience perspective.”
Think like a content storyteller
The goal is to engage and elicit emotion and/or action, Walker explains. One client, Global Industrial, chose to tell stories on their website “with a bit of levity, a little comedy, a little bit of a fun,” he says.
Every distributor will have a different approach, but the ultimate goal is to bring a human element to what can otherwise be a mundane listing of products.
“The products themselves can be a little bit just sort of generic and vague and kind of hard to piece through, especially those that are distributing things that are part of a complicated process or project,” says Walker. “And so, listening to the customer, and understanding what they’re interested in through storytelling and navigating them through some examples and personas, some day-in-the-lives is really, really powerful.”
To know if you’re hitting the mark, know why your customer is visiting your website in the first place. This requires data points, says Walker. Ideally, they would come from spending time in-person with clients (or at least over a Zoom) to understand what their day-to-day work life is really like.
The deeper a distributor’s understanding of their customers’ workflow, pain points and needs, the more likely that distributor’s website will be able to take traditionally offline experiences to the web and do so in a way that lets the customer have a self-driven experience, says Walker.
“It really enriches the experience and makes it more self-service, as we like to call it, more able for people to be autonomous and doing things without human interaction, which is a good thing,” he says.
Listen to the entire podcast with Walker for more digital transformation tips, including:
- Best practices around making educational content come alive on your website
- How to provide customers with more self-service enablement
- The role of AI in the process
- Positive business results of digital transformation investments