Skilled Labor Shortage in Manufacturing: How an eCommerce Website Can Help

Manufacturers are struggling to find the talent they need to staff their organization. People with deep knowledge of products and processes are retiring. There is a skilled labor shortage in manufacturing that can be seen in the gap between the available labor in the market and those companies are hiring.  

If that weren’t enough, young people don’t see manufacturing as an appealing career path. It is hard to attract people. 

It is a complex issue without simple answers, but there are a few ways that a good website and eCommerce solution can help.

Manufacturers are struggling to find the talent they need to staff their organization. People with deep knowledge of products and processes are retiring. There is a skilled labor shortage in manufacturing that can be seen in the gap between the available labor in the market and those companies are hiring.

If that weren’t enough, young people don’t see manufacturing as an appealing career path. It is hard to attract people. 

It is a complex issue without simple answers, but there are a few ways that a good website and eCommerce solution can help.

Digital Knowledge Center

How can you systematize your business so it is less dependent on the knowledge of individuals?

Look at how you can create software and systems that off-load people who hold corporate knowledge. 

We helped one of our customers, who manufactures replacement parts for machinery, develop a customized customer interface. When customers log in to their account on the website, they see a screen that displays the specific replacement parts that are appropriate for the machinery they have.

In another instance, a manufacturer keeps parts diagrams of their products on their website with links on each part to the product on their eCommerce site to make it easy to find and order items from the parts explosion diagrams.

By building a digital knowledge center, you create:

  • A system that shields your business from being dependent on the responsiveness or availability of a few people.
  • A tool that new hires can use to get up to speed quickly when serving customers.
  • A self-service portal that enables customers to get their own answers, buy more of your product and reduce the workload on your team.

Automated Processes

If you don’t have the people, how can you operate better and more efficiently with the team you have?  When eCommerce is done well, you can operate with a smaller workforce. 

Online ordering can be integrated with your order fulfillment software which means:

  • Reduced manual involvement
  • Fewer errors, which means fewer returns
  • Faster fulfillment

One of our customers has a 90% same-day fill rate since implementing their eCommerce solution that is integrated with their ERP.  

Another manufacturer shared with us that their sales team is more efficient, spending less time dealing with $40 parts orders and focusing their attention on much larger sales. 

In another instance, sales reps were using an antiquated system that required them to call and reach someone to learn what was available in inventory and fax orders to order-entry people. Now they are able to see what is in stock and place orders 24/7. The process is more efficient, and the people who were doing those tasks can focus on other areas of the business.

Talent Attraction Tool

Younger, talented prospects are doing research online and looking for companies that are innovative. They will absolutely look at your website! 

Your website should have a similar level of innovation to what you are doing in your manufacturing process.  It should have a user experience that reflects the experience they can expect internally. People want to work for a company that is doing well and is serving their customers well. They don’t want to work for someone that is stuck in the past.

Demonstrate that you are a company that invests in technology and has a forward-thinking culture. Show them that you are the kind of company they want to work for.

We have seen manufacturers that invest in innovative equipment for their shop floor but don’t feel the need to invest in how they communicate about themselves. Does your website reflect your company’s personality?

If you say you are about innovation, then you should think about how you offer tools and functionality that provide a strong user experience for your customers.

Taking the Next Step with Your Website

At Brilliance, we’ve also worked hard to attract the best talent in a competitive and challenging labor market. In working with consultants, we learned that attracting talent is a marketing effort. HR is no longer separate from your marketing communications. Because of the digital landscape, your online presence is a key factor in a prospect’s decision, maybe even before they talk to anyone or apply.

How is your company responding to these challenges? The great news is that there are ways to implement these ideas that can pay for themselves quickly. We’d love to talk to you about how website tools can play a key role in creating and managing growth in your company, and even attracting talent in the digital marketplace.

Lori McDonald

President & CEO

About

Lori McDonald

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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