B2B manufacturers want to connect directly with their customers, but lack of e-commerce know-how, costs and channel conflict hold them back, a new study says.

Manufacturers recognize they need to sell directly to their end customers, but while they explore online selling opportunities, many say they are stuck selling through online intermediaries or channel partners, a new study shows.

Business-to-business manufacturers have taken only minimal steps in direct e-commerce because of “concerns over lack of experience with e-commerce, costs associated with building the required technology and potentially alienating their distributors, or channel conflict,” according to a new report titled “Manufacturers Reap Benefits From Selling Direct.” The report, conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by marketplace technology vendor Mirakl and SAP Hybris, a B2B e-commerce technology company, evaluates the current state of B2B manufacturers’ adoption of hosted online marketplaces and the associated benefits.

Manufacturers understand the need to connect directly with end customers, but lack confidence doing so.

Notable findings include:

  • Manufacturers understand the need to connect directly with end customers, but lack confidence doing so. Only 35% of respondents said they are “very confident” in their ability to convert site visitors to buyers, and only 34% said they were “very confident” they could properly manage their customers’ final purchase stages, the report says.
  • Manufacturers have taken half steps toward enabling e-commerce for end customers.The study showed 53% of companies say they are selling on unidentified third-party marketplaces or through channel partners, but relying on resellers “interferes with the business’s control of the customer experience and reaping valuable customer data and insights.”
  • Manufacturers that sell on marketplaces say they are “more confident” in their abilities to execute critical functions through direct marketplaces.

Forrester surveyed 125 e-commerce and marketing executives from medium and large B2B and B2B-to-consumer manufacturers in the U.S., United Kingdom, France and Germany.

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