The e-commerce space has been turned inside over the past year, forcing brick and mortar stores to move sales online. Amazon.com Inc., the first digital marketplace to which many industrial brands turned, has bypassed competitors as the fastest-growing retail business at scale. It’s now on track to overtake Walmart as America's largest retailer in 2022.
As stores started reopening their doors, the convenience of online purchasing became too enticing to overlook. One survey found that online purchases increased from 6% to 10% of total sales across many product categories due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This success has triggered a chain reaction, driving many industrial brands to develop a presence in the online marketplace. Still, as businesses make the digital move, they must safeguard themselves from potential cash-flow loss, which threatens to shutter their operations.
Which factors put industrial brands at risk of losing money online? The move to online sales exposes many small to mid-sized businesses to potentially massive accounting errors, creating a snowball effect in terms of profit loss. When it comes to industrial brands, the reality is that many are struggling to keep up with the overnight digitization of industrial sales. By responding to these changes with a digital transformation, companies can position themselves as viable competitors in the e-commerce ecosystem.
To be competitive and sustainable in this new digital era, industrial brands need to incorporate advanced automation tools for handling complex data. In the process, they avoid losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from uncollected revenue, chargebacks and accounting errors, while decreasing antiquated manual processes. Newly designed e-commerce retailers can adopt systems that utilize technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning to increase online sales and navigate the complexities of e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon.
Industrial brands can look to the capabilities provided by AI technology to assist in creating product content, performance data, and a more powerful presence in the e-commerce marketplace. AI-generated data also supplies businesses with real-time pricing intelligence.
Data-mining tools help industrial brands to cement themselves as strong e-commerce competitors. They allow sellers to serve buyers better, streamlining processes on every level. Automation and data mining also help brands to manage their advertising spend, through targeted ads and customized reporting.
Data dashboard insights provide a look into online brand visibility, enabling businesses to manipulate inputs and evaluate their standing in the marketplace. To prevent losses from accounting errors, AI tools automate previously manual tasks and streamline accounting processes. An automated accounting system can conduct monthly audits, identify incorrect shortage claims, and handle erroneous chargebacks and duplicate billings that could otherwise cost companies thousands of dollars.
Machine learning capabilities allow businesses to forecast trends affecting their products in the online marketplace. Again, they can avoid the type of expensive accounting errors that lead to small industrial brands closing their virtual doors. In addition, forecasting expedites a buyer’s order history, which can be accessed through one portal, enhancing customer satisfaction. Finally, automated systems enable traceability, as means of tightening up on cybersecurity and reducing the possibility of disruption caused by a security breach.
A system that manages all aspects of online commerce is the best way for brands to achieve a dramatic increase in profit margins, and reduction in lost revenue due to systematic errors. With these capabilities available to industrial brands, there’s nothing to hold them back from reaching their highest level of success in online sales.
Rohan Thambrahalli is founder and president of UpstartWorks.
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