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Building Out a Direct-to-Consumer Solution While Supporting B2B Channels

Wholesalers (also known as retailers or distributors) have a vital role in the manufacturing agency as the intermediary between manufacturers and end consumers.

This model has proven to be successful, in that it puts parts and products produced by manufacturers in front of the consumers who most need and use them. In recent years, however, the rise of the Internet – as well as the changes in brings about in the way of how we shop for and purchase products – is making it abundantly clear that manufacturers need to adapt their business models to support consumer habits.

With this arises an important question: how can manufacturers build out a direct-to-consumer solution while still supporting B2B channels?

As daunting as it may seem at first glance, one global engines manufacturer found the answer to this question in Bridgeline Digital’s eCommerce solution. The diesel and gas engine company previously realized that once their products were in the hands of distributors, they were no longer able to keep track of the purposes for which their engines were used, where they went or who ended up with them. As a result, the end consumers were often shopping for and purchasing non-proprietary parts when their engines needed service.

gears and engine

This manufacturer also required integrated supply chain logistics for the United States and Canada, with a potential to scale internationally. At the time, parts were shipped internationally from the United Kingdom, which was a slow process, often taking a week or two to reach the distributors. Distributors had to order parts in bulk and handle their own inventory to work around long wait times – a system that proved to be inefficient and expensive.

Bridgeline’s solution addressed every one of these pain points by:

  • Building out B2B and B2C eCommerce for direct-to-consumer and distributor channels in the U.S. and Canada
  • Assisting with developing a platform that indicates when an engine needs service, sends the consumer the necessary part and alerts the appropriate distributor of that consumer’s service needs, thus benefitting all channels
  • Facilitating a partnership with UPS to build a warehouse in Kentucky for maintenance of inventory and faster, cheaper shipping
  • Integrating their solution with internal systems, including taxation, online chat, UPS logistics and Syncron

Thanks to their partnership with Bridgeline, this manufacturer can remain a part of their engine’s lifespans through direct to consumer services. The way this was accomplished, however, still drives engagement within their B2B channels through developing a comprehensive logistics solution and keeping their distributors’ service tools in mind.


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