Your Website’s Role in Digitalization 

Your factory or plant looks a lot different now than it did ten, or even five, years ago. Digital transformation has been inescapable, and the pandemic expedited that trend. Whether you’re making use of robotics and automation or using tools to improve supply chain visibility, the business has taken a big step. Potentially multiple big steps.

This evolution has improved resiliency, efficiency and agility across the company.

However, there are usually a set of tools that have been left behind. They’re legacy systems that were in place before digital transformation started and never matured as the business did. It’s highly likely that your website is on that list.

Your website has four important roles as part of digital transformation.

Reflect the Company’s Evolution

Across all manufacturing verticals, there’s a wide disparity between the digital maturity of the business and the impression the website gives. The shift that happens inside the company’s four walls is barely noticeable on the website.

In fact, many websites are three, four and five years old now. Take a minute to list some of the changes that have taken place internally in the last three to five years. It’s not a small list.

The website should be a good representation of where the company is now. Your website might not always be someone’s first impression, but it will make an impression. Things like design, navigation, features, responsiveness and ease of use all tell a story about your business.

Show Your Customers & Prospects Why this Transformation is Good for Them

Digitalization has been great for your company. Everyone from executives to the plant floor has experienced its benefits. Use your website to show your customers and prospects why your digital transformation benefits them.

Using case studies and content to help tell specific stories about what you offer customers now is powerful.

For example, if you have new tools for visibility in your supply chain, your customers will probably notice some positive effects. Find ways to share those on the website.

Pay careful attention to the messaging you use. Demonstrate how your digital transformation benefits them, not you. For example, they’re not excited by how much more profitable you are now. They’re excited about what digitalization means for consistency of product availability or quality reliability.

Motivate Prospective Employees

Prospective employees have more choices than ever and different standards than before. They’re focusing on jobs where the training and skillsets will set them up for success in the future. For many, digitally-focused skillsets are a path to both job security and higher wages over time.

If your website is missing critical information about your company’s digitalization, job seekers will go elsewhere.

Match your website’s maturity to your business’ maturity, and prospective employees can quickly get a sense of the skills they’ll be developing through a job at your company.

It’s important to note here that the whole industry has done a rather poor job of telling this story well to the new generations in the workforce. This is a big obstacle to filling the 2.1 million open manufacturing jobs this decade. It also presents an opportunity for your company to stand out.

Go Beyond a Brochure & Become a Tool

As you push your website to be a reflection of the digitalization at your organization, begin thinking of it as a tool rather than a brochure.

While a brochure site can be an effective piece for storytelling, it often falls short of its potential to serve business goals. Depending on your customers and prospective employees, your website may need to help them do a variety of things.

A few ways your website can do more for your company:

  • Lead generation and capture – Whether it’s content, email collection, forms or other tools, your website can be a great way to support the sales process. Consider building customer-facing tools into your website, like calculators, project estimating tools or checklists, to name a few.
  • Dealer or distributor portal – If you sell through a dealer or distributor network, your website is an effective place to house your portal for those audiences. Use it to serve them content, marketing assets, product updates and other information. It doesn’t replace the relationship a sales person has, but it can help organize and distribute information.
  • Selectors, customizers or builders – If digital transformation has allowed you more flexibility in what you make, a selector or builder on your website can be a solid investment. This tool can be used by new or existing customers and helps your team collect better and more effective information information. It also showcases the increased flexibility in a more tangible way.
  • B2B eCommerce – Manufacturers are wading into this area more and more each year. If digitalization has made selling this way possible for you, it opens up a world of options for the website. We’ll discuss B2B eCommerce in more detail soon.

The company’s website should keep pace with its digitalization process. There are a number of ways the website can build on the process and start serving as a strategic tool.

If you’re considering a website redesign, start with why. Think about the functions of your website that benefit the business the most. Disliking or being bored with the design should not be the only prompt to start a website redesign project.

A website redesign is a tool for accomplishing your goals. For example, if the goal is to better showcase digital transformation at XYZ manufacturing, then the tactic or avenue to do that is a website redesign.

If your website makes you cringe, it's probably not a good representation of the business' digital transformation.

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