Manufacturers and distributors kept the nation running by pivoting quickly, adjusting their products, and services and taking necessary precautions to protect their workers and facilities. There’s a number of ways they’ve continued operating and serving their customers. One area of focus is of course, digital and, more specifically, commerce.

According to Episerver’s survey of 600 global B2B decision makers, 41 percent of respondents said selling directly to customers online is the most significant opportunity for their business in 2020. 

Building a business that’s ”always open” means creating a website and digital footprint that gives your customers 24/7 access to your company. But when a crisis strikes and budgets freeze, how do you make website updates, improvements and enhancements?

Here are seven things manufacturers and distributors can do on their websites right now, without any additional budget.

1. Breathe new life into your website copy

Crises like COVID-19 present a unique opportunity for marketers to adjust their playbooks. Manufacturers and distributors stand out from the Amazons of the world because they have unique stories and missions that customers can get behind. Return to your roots, humanize everything and tell your story front and center. Do some reflection and find unique ways to tell your story. If you’re having trouble updating your copy, check out these tips for building content that resonates.

2. Promote and prioritize certain products

Supply and demand is obviously impacted by COVID. Now is a great time to reassess your customers’ needs and highlight your products that meet them. If you’re a distributor with access to personal protective equipment or other COVID related essentials, consider promoting them on your homepage or other highly trafficked pages. It’s similar to how retailers re-orchestrated their product promotions to serve consumers who needed household products, work-from-home essentials, loungewear and the like. Be thinking about what your customers need most, right now.

For example, Hisco is leveraging the built-in B2B functionality within Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud by Insite to keep their customers updated on COVID-related products. When you navigate to Hisco’s homepage, a pop-up appears with information on highly sought after products. 

3. Build out your services

As B2B marketplaces like Amazon Business and Alibaba take-off, many manufacturers and distributors simply don’t know how to compete leveraging their own website. The good news is, manufacturers and distributors can differentiate themselves from B2B marketplaces by offering value-added services.

If you offer services and you aren’t promoting them on your website – start promoting them! Shout your services from the rooftop by creating a library of services on your site. It’s as easy as adding a ”Services” tab in your navigation menu. Communicate the value of your services. Even if there’s not a dollar exchange for them, customers and potential customers will recognize the value.

4. Analyze website traffic and searches

Information is power. You don’t have to be a data scientist or an expert analyst to get something out of your website analytics. With Google Analytics turned on, you have access to a world of information about your website and your customers. Pay special attention to the Audience, Acquisition and Behavior reports. Here are some common questions you can ask:

  • Where is traffic coming from?
  • What device are users leveraging most?
  • What pages are most frequented?
  • What keywords are searched most?

You can take analytics to the next level if your ecommerce provider has an analytics dashboard. Schilling Supply, for example, leveraged InsiteAnalytics for eCommerce combined with Google Analytics to monitor common searches from their customers at the height of the pandemic. To no surprise, some of the most common searches were for products like hand sanitizer, Purell, Clorox wipes, Lysol and other sanitation products.

5. Build a resource library

How are you responding to the current situation? Can you provide helpful resources to your customers to help them navigate this complex world we live in? The hunger for content and resources has never been higher. Feed the craving by delivering easy-to-find, easy-to-digest information in the form of landing pages, webinars, whitepapers, guides or other creative formats.

Remember, you don’t have to be a content marketer to create and provide helpful resources to your customers. We’ve heard from teams who have gotten all-hands on deck to quickly pivot and serve their customers. Take Optos for example, within weeks of the shelter-in-place orders, Optos launched an eLearning Center and moved from primarily face-to-face customer contacts to 100 percent virtual communications and programs.

6. Adjust your homepage

Your homepage wears a lot of hats. It has to point customers in the right direction, quickly tell your story, simply highlight what you offer and provide other relevant resources. Basically, your homepage needs special attention. Think about why people are visiting your online branch right now. Then be sure to answer your customers’ biggest challenges right on your homepage.

Take Royal Canin for example. As a pet food manufacturer, they are committed to creating tailored nutrition that helps cats and dogs live their healthiest lives. They authored a guide to maintaining pet health during the coronavirus outbreak. Now, they’re highlighting the guide right on their homepage.

7. Conduct a content audit of your site

If you’re a manufacturer or distributor who has previously invested in building out your thought leadership content, consider taking Episerver up on our Content Diagnostics Offer. We’ll help you better understand your overall content landscape including topics that are driving engagement, content gaps, how content production changes over time and more.

Just because budgets are frozen, doesn’t mean business has to be. Your website helps you keep your doors open. While some major website changes will take time and money, there are many low-hanging fruits you can pick right away, without spending a dime.