The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 10 months ago

The Incredible Shrinking Pie: Why the Future Lies in E-Commerce w/ Kevin Haar


It's time to face reality about sales channels, technology, and how people buy.

E-commerce is going to dominate sales. Business was moving in that direction pre-COVID, but the pandemic dramatically accelerated those trends.

You can fight this reality, or you can grow with it.

On this episode of the podcast, I talked with Kevin Haar, chief operating officer at Super Bright LEDs, about the transition to e-commerce.

Kevin and I discussed:

  1. What e-commerce can offer now that it couldn't in the past
  2. The impact of online sales in different parts of the organization
  3. Roadblocks and challenges in e-commerce adoption

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Show, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or here.

You're going to have to face thisreality, one way or the other, and you may as well be in an world where youcan grow with it. Instead of trying to fight this wave, that's about to justdestroy welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving midsize manufacturers forward here. You'll discover new insihts frompassionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles and youill learn from BTO B sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business developmentstrategies inside your business. Let's get into the show, welcome to another episode of theManufacturing Executive podcast. This show is being brought to you by oursponsor cadinus part solutions, I'm Joe Sullivan, your Houst and a cofounder ofthe Industrial Marketing Agency GERROLA. Seventy six go ahead and transportyourself back about fifteen years, or so it's two thousand and five and maybeyou're in the market for a new car, perhaps you're doing a little bit ofresearch online, more likely, you're just visiting dealerships, because wellit's two thousand and five and you're only a handful of years removed fromyour AOL dial up connection regardless wher, you almost certainly aren't doing,is jumping on Carscom or Carvana or auto trader to make an actual purchase.In fact to most of us, that idea would have seemed completely insane at thetime, but how quickly the world changes today, we're not talking about buyingand selling cars, although that's a hot topic in my own house right now, but weare talking about ECOMMERCE and specifically ECOMMERCE formanufacturers. Many of you listening right now, like amajority of my clients, might be saying to yourself Nah. This isn't for us. Wesell five hundred thousand dollar equipment through six months. Salescycles, with lots of engineering and customizations ye commerce will neverbe a part of my world. Okay, fair, but there's a reason. I used the online carretailer example to kick off this episode. The marketplace is changing byour behavior is changing and we can't turn to blo turn a blind eye tof thatbe ready and educate yourself, because, if you're not missing opportunities,yet you almost certainly will be soon. So. On that note, I'd like to introducesomeone who lives right inside this world of btbe commerce, Kevin Har is chief operating officer atSuper Bright Ledscom and e commerce. Leader specializing in the privatelabeling of Eli d lighting he's been there since tw thousand an fourteen andprior to that worked in financial services. Kevin has his BS from the University ofVermont and MBA from Washington University in St Louis. He resides insnt Louis with his wife, Allison and theire. Three Children Kevin Welcome tohis joe thanks. Jo excited awesome. So can you start by talking a little bitabout the shifts that you're seeing in...

...consumer buying behavior in recentyears, particularly in a BETOB setting yeah? I think you know we've all kindof seen this ofor the has twenty years of just the growth of be commerce andpeople becoming more and more comfortable and familiar with thecommerce, but I think over the next last year, in particular, you're seeingthis rapid change an is rabit acceleration due to covid in terms oflike how that impacts be to be, I think you know you're, seeing now kind ofthis rush for businesses to start looking at opportunities to look formore direct sales to their customers and also you know purchasers are almostrequiring at a times. Even the government, at you know, is making thepush so you're, seeing this just rapid movement to a commerce, much moretransparent and direct yeah. I imagine that everything going on this year inParticularis just forced people who maybe it was on their minds and theyknew it was on the horizon to say. Okay, I guess now is the time, because youknow people are stuck in their homes and yeah. It's a big thing to toswallow and you know, obviously it's a big change and I think a lot of timesis a business operator, you're thinking. Yes, it's something we want to do, butto actually make that commitment and make that change, and I think this yearwas a little bit more of a push for people to do that and also you'reseeing it with platforms. You know different Newyork, peope platforms thatwere you know traditionally like not necessarily focused on ay commerce, nowoffering kind of more of an opportunity for businesses to do that. So you knowit's it's definitely there. So it's AE Bilm most becoming more accessible tothe the companies who have yeah. Absolutely I mean it's, you know it'sjust the tools that are out there, the connectors and the ability to kind oftake your business. It's, I think, a lot of times, people think it's justthis overwhelming process, and don't you wrong it is, it can be tough andbut it's not impossible and just getting the Ripe Group of peopletogether to have those conversations. I think it's not necessarily the hurdlethat you think it may be. What Opportunity Kevin. Do you think thatmanufacturers are missing right now by not embracing the commerce? You know, Ithink I kind of alluded to it. You know before just talking about even not onlyjust these individuals and these purchasing departments that are kind ofmoving more to the commerce, but obviously the government too, and but Ithink people are viewing the world as it is today and not necessarily likewhat it is for the future and like one of my favorite quotes was from JeffBasos, as in a book. The Amazon Way and hes mentioned he's, discussed aquestion like how much further can we go with this, and he said like when afactory in Paragoi can buy a railroad box, car full of boxite from a mine inChina and transacted over Amazon. Then we might be done, and so, when youthink about the efficiencies that still are able that are out there, that wecan capture and not necessarily like this really long ficked supply chains,I think for a manufacture. You have to start thinking yourself, you know whatdoes not only my purchasing supply chain look like but like what is. Whereis the end consumer of the product that I am manufacturing? And you know whatdoes that supply chain? Look for that...

...customer and you know, are there othercompanies out? There are competitors that are taking a more direct route,which would then potentially winit our ability in the future. So I think for amanufacturer, you really need to start thinking, bigger and thinking about thechallenges that are out there, not necessarily just stuck in this old. Thetraditional way of this is the way we've done business. This is whay,we've sold and start thinking about. You know what potential impacts arethere for newer, innovative businesses that can take a more directoroute tothe endconsumer, which would obviously overcost yeah? No, that's a good point.WELSEE YOUERE YOUAND! I were recently talking about this idea that you knowmoving into ecommerce is much more strategic, O more strategic play thanjust saying: Hey, we've got an online store now right. Can you talk about theimpact that selling online will have sort of throughout different parts ofthe organization from operations to your product offering to sales yeah? Ithink the biggest mistake you can make when you're thinking, abouty commerceis just viewing it as another sales channel to me like it, I mean you couldtake that, but it's a pretty limited view of what it is. You know if you'rethinking of it as a business, that you can make it easier for your currentcustomers to transact online. Well, that's, like you, know, very you're,not taking advantage of everything that you're about to be able to do, and forme like looking at it it's a very ecommerce is much more of anoperational product line, thereare other decisions that need to be madethan just having a conversation with your sales people saying hey, you knowwe're bringing the scommerce channel in and just may impact your yourcommissions. You know it's it's a much more of like what now new products canwe offer? What were we not able to offer before? How is a business? Are weable to operate thingterms that woul is inventory? Look like you know, so it'sa much larger complex element, I think, and to be really successful and Ididn't even get into marketing. Yet I mean. Obviously your marketing is goingto change. You know, so it's it becomes much more digital, so it is definitelya bigger than just. This is our new sales channel? I mean you could view itthat way, but I think you know if you really want to take it and embrace it,it's a much larger, complete picture of the business so yeah. I imagine thatyou know in a lot of organizations. This idea of v Commerce and sellingonline is intimidating to the sales force inside that organization becausethey probably feel a little threatened, like I think, of if you're a fan of theoffice. Anybody listening, I think, back to like the early seasons whenthey implemented their their like Dunder, Mifflin, online portal and andeverybody was you know, freake out the whole sales team was freaking out thattheir their sales commission was be gone. They were being replaced by acomputer that, but I think that you know that probl episode was probablydone, because there 's some truth to it. N, I'm sure people even today see thatwere as opposed to thinking. Okay. What...

...opportunity is there now, like you saidit a minute ago right? What could we? What are we able to offer now thatmaybe we weren't able to in the future in the past? I think there's definitelyopportunity and I think that's something where it you know you have tohave a more kind of complete conversation with the the sale steam,because if you do bring it intrust, as is another sales channel, it does turninto this competition. But if you are able to offer these new productlines,it creates a new opportunity, then, for the sales people to get further reachinto these businesses. And if you view ECOMMERCE is more as a likecomplementary ecosystem. Almost that, like you kind of resided and the sales,is also a part of that the further accelerated into the business. I thinkyou really start can change the way the organization thinks about. It were as aas a salesperson, it's less of a threat and more of an opportunity, and I think,if you're, not thinking that way, you know even as a salesperson, I feel likethis is a threat. That's a very shortsighted thought, because this iscoming, whether it's your business or not, and so you know it's like Youre. You know you're goingto have to face this reality, one way or the other, and you may as well be inan world where you can grow with it. Instead of trying to fight this wave,that's about to just destroy so thit's like it's like any other type oftechnology, be like somebody in the early nineteen hundreds, you knowfighting the coming of the car, because ttheire convinced thayre going to beable to you know, have a horse and Cor Yeah my horse and Bugis Great, but yeah I mean it's really not it'sreally not so different like this is here. You know, I think it'sinteresting to because, like a lot of the we work with with midsizemanufacturers, a lot of them sell very complex custom. You know big ticketitems through long sales cycles and it's you know things like that. Iimagine are not in a lot of ways: Aren't maybe moving to eat commerce,but there's a component of most of their businesses where there are morestandard items. There's you know or like aftermarket parts for example, orthings that are are complimentary to maybe the bigger ticket item, and I seethose opportunities being missed already by up a lot of businesses, W othey're just not sure what to do with it. Yeah. I think that's a really goodpoint and you know, and that only just in terms of like other kind of thesecommodity replacement parts or whatever they may be, that you're you nowselling online, but even like the service element of it and just givingthat digital footprint for your businesses and support- and you know,content related to that yeah. It's yeah, I would totally agree and yeah it'sHese longer. You know your year and a half sale cycles huge. You know piecesof equipment tough, but there's there's other elements of the business to whereyou can start exploring, and you know, and also be getting reaching into some-maybe some other businesses that you may not have before to then sell thatlarger sale cycle. So we're going to take a really quickbreak here to help pay the bills. So two thousand and twenty has been aweird year. Industries are facing new challenges as we navigate life withouttrade shows events and in person...

...meetings. Many businesses arebulstering their online tools to offer a better experience. Wil also making upfor some of those missing trade show leads and that's where a cadinus partsolutions comes in. They help you create a dynamic, Sherabl, cadcatalogue that you put on your website. Designers can preview your productsfrom any angle and download and the format that they prefer by improvingthe online experience. Engineers and architects get the data they need fortheir design and you get a fresh lead in your marketing pipe line. Who needstrade shows anyway, to learn more visit. Part SOLUTIONSCOM leads beand. You know you even even there,though, when you think about it. Like I mean who would have Wuoud O guessed tenyears ago, you'd be but buying and selling cars online right and and itonks dogs, I name it. I mean it's just I e Gi living creatures that are, youknow, being solved, I mean so, if you think your product is not susceptibleto commerce and going back to that basose quote. I think it is quite silly.So it's okay! Well, let's see here. The one thing I wanted to ask you about wasECOMMERCE platforms, I'm just kind of curious, like other softwares orplatforms that that you really stand behind or think e are worth looking atfor anybody here, who's listening and thinking about moving inde commerce,yeah, I think mean, there's a lot and I could just like list them, but you know,I think, for a business n will mention some othem as we talk, but before evenkind of getting stuck in. Like a you know, with talking to some like a asalesperson of a platform, I think there's really has to be like a lot ofinternal conversations before that even moves forward. Because, again goingback to that, you know sales, you know what are we? What are we going to beand before you kind of get stuck in a sales petch and just trying to compareplatforms, I think you really, as an organization, need to have thatstrategic understanding of you know how we will move forward and how we aregoing to address. I mean there's Gong Ta, be challenges. There's Goinna, beoperational challenges, people challenge, it mean you name it, but youknow. Where is that United Front? You know what is the undgoal of this? It'snot just to get on a platform, but it's to change this business and but yeah.It's you're, seeing big companies TAT Dobe, buying Magento, I'm a gentlesbigcommerce platform, so so you're, seeing like more and more resourcescome in and when the money starts flowing in to these businesses in theseplatforms, it just cing to become easier more for other businesses to geton it and again so, just from a competitors perspective, yeah, you're,going to face challenges if you're not considering and thinking about thoseplatforms Wa. While you brought up this this topic of challenges like what aresome of these, you w potential road blocks or hurdles that you might see amanufacturer sort of running into as they start thinking about implementing.I an I just think if I think the really cause toin of like sales Channelis,probably the biggest. If you start thinking about how o manufactureourselves, and then you start thinking about the like from manufacture to adistributor, you know to you know sometimes he'Rse, even an agent inbetween that agent and the distributor, and then you know the thequalifications ore games that are...

...played between the distributor in themanufactuure in terms of sales rebates. You name it. You know all of thatcreates comlexities and challenges and a risk to the business of changing. Soyou know that is obviously a really big thing and then just people, you knowbecause you're going to start sticking your resources into different things.When you start moving to commerce- and I mentioned marketing before you know,marketing becomes much more of a digital presence instead of a you know,Billboard magazine you name it wherever you're going so, but there's benefitsthere and you're going to start realizing, there's organicopportunities of marketing to and it's not just hey. I got to pay a dollar toget this return. You know you can start writing really good fresh contact andcontent, and it's not evennecessarily adding head count. You know you can useleverage freelancers, you can leverage just you know your own customers, youknow for testimonials, you name it and you know you do this Bu, you don'tprobably want anything, but it's just all of that starts you know, adding you knowcollateral or value to the business. You know, through back lengths andeverything that you know these manufacturers probably aren't evenaware of in terms of what opportunity there are, but it's it adds real valuefor a longer period of time than you w throwing up a bill border, but amagazine AD in e February. You Know Two thousand and twenty addition so yeah. Ithink that's a really good point, and it is something that you know is kindof n in my world here, but you're building equity in your brand. When youcan shift your marketing approach to a Ligne with you know your ecommercestrategy, like you said it, you create a piece of content. I mean some of myclients, not necessarily inthe commerce world, but it's content that theyproduce five six years ago that are still generating qualifiedopportunities for them every week. You know, as opposed to I always talkabout Thi. This concept, I think, think I stole this from Joe Politcy of hecontent marketing institute, but this idea of renting versus owning realestate online, like you, you know when you create a piece of content and itgains authority and adds sort of authority to your business in theonline space. When now you got visibility in the search engines thatyou can kind of you kind of own it until somebody starts doing a betterjob and you're not paying for that anymore, when you're ranking, first orsecond orthird organically, for some some problem or product or questionthat your ideal customers searching as opposed to, like you, said, running abillboardor, a prinet or you know, even trade shows where it's sort of a oneand done thing like you, stop paying and and your visibility goes away. So Ilike that mindset of shifting your whole Younow Company's whole mindsetbeing more digital yeah. It's I mean I, I said, there'schallenges and it's and you, like you, said that you know for people lookingat this. It's like well, this sounds so overwhelming. It sounds tress, but it'sreally just talking to people, and you know I go back to like you know when Istarted my career and you know I sat, and I spent a lot of time just talkingto people that were very successful, that you know not only justprofessionally, but personally you know and how did they balance that what didthey do and there was no sales...

...pitchitwas. Just me learning and Ithink is a business operator. You know for me going into the O, theprofessionawals or something that is brand new. I had no idea, you know it'sjust I'm just trying to grow and if you're a business operator and you'vebeen bus, growing a business for a long period of time, but now we're at this.You know precipice. You know, esactually Ha a you know like of likewhat you know this change and I think you know going back to likethat process of just having conversations, and you know trying tolearn and reunderstand your business and it's not to say you can't change.You've created significant value, whether it's your your product supplychain, your sales, your whatever those assets, are inside Your Business andthey can still be leveraged to this, and it was kind of like what you weresuggesting like you know, when you business, maybe has these like anClarry like items, you know you know moving those onlining, so it's justfinding those opportunities, but I think really spending the time just tohave those conversations and that's why I mentioned to about trying to avoidjust going to any commerce platform and just right away getting caught in thesales pitch and then all sudden, you have this sales channel. Well, it's youknow really that keep down learning and understanding and reflection on yourbusiness yourself and like what you're trying to build. So I don't know, Ithink, that's Yeah Ipor, it's good ad. I mean, and that's that's probably kindof where it all needs to start, but o SAS people who are listening here. Youknow who are thinking. Yeah, okay. I know I've been thinking about this fora while. I need to. I need to start moving toward te commerce. They're,probably feeling some intimidation probably have been for a while, likewhat are some resources or where would you point people like? How can peopleget started educating themselves about? You know what are all the ways this wargoing to impact my business? Where do I even jump off, and I think just a youknow, you start looking at like competitors, you start looking at yoursupply chain. You start looking at Disi keep companies that you do businesswith. That may do this well and then yeah, you just reakh out, and you starthaving conversations I mean me, you know I talk to people about this. Youknow it's, you know, that's not something that is unnatural for peopleto have these conversations and the talk. People want to help other peopleand there are resources online. But again I think it's you know when you'renot getting that two way feedback and that reflection- you know it's justthis like if it's turns more into a sales pitch or some type of video that'just thrown at you, you're not really going to get that complete it S. Idon't think it can help you as much as just you know, simple conversationswith people, and you know, there's other you know, I'm sure, consultantsand stuff that work on this that aren't necessarily like representing a singleproduct, but that may help, but I think kind of getting in and havingconversations with people that are like operators and that have done it before,I think is probably whereyou Goinna get the most bank for your Bock, becausethey're going to kind of understand some of the challenges that you'redirectly going to be facing that, maybe someone that's just you know aconsultant. You know, may not see sometimes m yeah. That's a good point.So start with your network o look at...

WHO's done. It who's, maybe had somesuccess or probably stumbled along the way to I'm sure and just start o sort of learning that way.Huh Yeah talking to Peopeole like they said that I'm sure the people that havecreatat sales channel they you may hear from them all this is you know it'sjust a it's just a sales channel shift. It's not that great and then you'retlinking. Okay, well, you know herd in Kavin. He was saying you know, that'saptential. You know thing that could happen. You know youstart building andbuilding a story and a narrative and seeing the pros in the cons of it all.So that's good well come in anything else. U You'd like to add to thisconversation that we haven't touched on that you think would be helpful tolisteners. No, I just think it's an exciting time and I think people youknow, for businesses t to really kind of adapt a D to grab hold of this.That's not too late. You know, and I think sometimes people think it is toolike Oh Aos, on theyre huge well and no, I E it's there's thes this Pie'sgrowing, you know, and so it's the pie that you're currently into shrinkingthe other boy is growing. So you know, even if you're doing it poorly, youknow, maybe you can continue cross. So it's there's plenty of opportunities.Still there it's not too late, and you just don't want to be. You know fiveten years ro now having this conversation, and then you probablywill be too late so get out ahead of it. While you can right yeah exactly sogreat T, yeah I'l DOS bleaser really enjoyed this yeah thanks for coming onman. This wasreally great appreciate you sharing your wisdom and experiencesfrom you know from your own. I guess everything you've gone through and inthis ecommerce world. So well thanks. So what what's the best way forsomebody to get in touch with you if they maybe like to learn a little bitmore or Hae braine a little yeah s, you can hitme up an linked in that's fine, that's Byby! The best way you know Kevin Har!You know, I think, that's probably that's why to get after me, so right inKevin Ar Hja ar so check out Kevin on linkon awesome. Well, I would like tosay thank you once again to our sponsor cadinus part solutions for helpingmaking helping to make this episode possible and Kevin thanks again fortaking the time to join me today, fix you really enjoyed it. As for the restof you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to themanufacturing executive podcast to ensure that you never missed an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learnmore about industrial marketing and sale strategy, you'll find an everexpanding collection of articles, videos guides and tools specificallyfor be to B manufacturers at grilla. Seventy SIXCOM AWARNN. Thank you somuch for listening until next time.

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