Is Your Digital Presence Winning Business - Or Turning Customers Away?



In this modern age, buyers prefer to source, research, compare and shortlist potential suppliers anonymously online. E-commerce provides a way to do this, as it streamlines purchasing and sales activities between businesses.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 E-Commerce Statistics report, manufacturing is the largest e-commerce industry sector, with e-commerce shipments making up 67.3% of all manufacturing shipments. This reliance on online research and buying has only increased in recent months, with the global pandemic and President Biden’s new Executive Order to strengthen national supply chains both contributing to a more competitive market online. So, how can you ensure your company’s online presence is making a strong enough impact to end up on customers’ shortlists?

I look at a lot of company websites in the course of my work as a researcher at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. Whether I’m working on a supplier scouting, market intelligence or technology scouting request, most manufacturers’ websites leave me wanting more. It’s not about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but about the content.

I, like many other researchers (think supplier scout or industrial buyer), incorporate advanced keyword searches that bypass search engines. In my case, I work with a customer to determine what criteria they need to suit their needs. From those criteria, I develop a list of keywords. A list of company websites from the identified geographic region are then searched against the list of keywords, and the results are returned as a file that is analyzed to determine which companies best fit the criteria. Being a diligent researcher, I then verify the short list of companies I’m recommending by looking at their websites. Finally, my customer receives a list of verified companies meeting their criteria and the identified companies have the opportunity to increase sales. Everyone’s a winner!!!

At least that is how the process is supposed to work. More often, the results of my keyword search are fewer than expected. I then have to scour a long list of websites and try to glean as much information as I can from them. Since my mission, and my company’s mission, is to help Michigan’s small and medium-sized manufacturers, I go that extra mile in my research. Industrial buyers do not have that luxury. They need key information to be easily searchable and on your website so they can get to a shortlist of potential partners quickly and anonymously.

What does it mean to be searchable? For starters:

  • Text needs to be coded as text and not an image.
  • Content should be written in words on your webpage as well as demonstrated in images and videos.

For additional assistance with improving the searchability of your website, our website experts can help.

Going beyond searchability, what content should you include? All manufacturer websites should have:

  • Capabilities
  • Products
  • Price per unit/service
  • Materials
  • Services
  • Equipment
  • Quality certifications
  • Social/environmental good campaigns
  • Case studies or testimonials
  • Contact information, including key contacts across departments

Frequently, buyers are looking for something that is not currently in production or not being produced in the desired geographic region. In these instances, they are researching companies to determine if they are capable of producing the item. This is why it is important to include equipment, capabilities and materials your company currently uses.

Buyers also need to know how fast it will take your company to respond to their request. You may not be able to put this information on your website, but you should make it a priority to be responsive when a buyer (or researcher like me) reaches out to your company. They probably won’t try back a second time. Additionally, by incorporating Industry 4.0 data tracking technology into your facility, like sensors, your company – and potential customers – will get a better idea of how long it will take to complete a certain order. Listing all Quality certifications and standards followed is another indication that your company will deliver what is promised on time.

Beyond your company website, researchers and buyers will look for additional verification of your business. Make certain you have a digital presence by providing up-to-date information on directories and social media. Consider local business directories (such as Chambers of Commerce or Yellowbook), business review sites (such as Yelp for Business or Google My Business) and industry-specific directories (such as QMed). In terms of social media, it’s important to understand where your buyers are active. Typically, most use LinkedIn because it is more professional and easy to connect directly with members of the company.

As e-commerce continues to become a larger part of conducting business, it will become increasingly vital for your company to establish a more robust, competitive and cyber-secure online presence to set your services apart. This could mean the difference between winning additional business opportunities or quickly being crossed off of buyers’ shortlists.

Not sure what to include on your website? Our Market Research team can provide key information on competitors to give additional direction for your online presence. Learn more here or contact us at


MONTGOMERY_P-web-pref-8-2020.jpgPaula Montgomery, Research Consultant
Paula is a Research Consultant at The Center. In her role, Paula utilizes her skills in data analytics, information visualization and communication, combined with her passion for research, to support The Center’s efforts to create custom market research reports for clients. 



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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