Industrial products and materials are typically purchased from manufacturers or distributors who in the past marketed their goods in trade journals and catalogues.
Times have changed, though not necessarily as much as one might suppose. A company in Thailand looking for, let’s say, an air compressor would ask a search engine to find a manufacturer or distributor selling the said items. Within a few seconds the results of the search would appear on the screen, including, among others, Domnick Hunter’s Rotary compressors. It can be seen at a glance that the website is essentially an e-catalogue. Computer and Internet technology has provided a new way of doing an old thing. It still works in much the same way but does so much faster, can be updated to include new products easily and at any time, and is paperless.
It is possible with today’s technology to go further upmarket to boost a company’s prospects. Business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce software displays a company’s products to buyers, enabling them to find what they are looking for quickly with a Search facility. They can then place an order online and execute payment swiftly and easily. The software can also provide buyers with a means of tracking the delivery process and facilitate repeat orders. In essence it provides businesses with a means of buying and selling products with the same convenience that e-Shopping does for individual customers.
Off-the-shelf or tailor made?
In deciding how to incorporate B2B software into your company’s marketing strategy you are faced with two choices. If you are starting up or your company is still at an early stage of development an off-the-shelf package might be adequate to suit your needs but as your business grows so will the likelihood of needing to go for a tailor-made one. There are plenty of providers seeking to impress you with their capacity to meet your needs so shop around and make them sing for their supper – have them come in and make a sales pitch.
As sales increase so will the complexity of coordinating the various operations needed to run a successful business. There are software applications that simplify those processes and greatly reduce the possibility of human error, which can be costly. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is designed to link all features of an organisation’s operations and functions into a single integrated endeavour. Thus, research and development, manufacturing, warehousing, marketing, sales and after sales, and various other back office and data functions run within an integrated framework governed by a single database.
The personal touch
However, if you are doing business in Thailand, as important as digital technology is to successful business growth, the local culture demands a human touch. When conducting B2B commercial operations interpersonal contact also has its part to play. There is still a place for the travelling sales rep and owner to owner meetings, both in the workplace and socially can go a long way towards cementing fruitfully lasting business relationships.
The Australian Government is keen to establish commercial links with Asian partners and has issued a number of publications directed towards this, one of which being a guide to e-commerce in Thailand which should be of interest to any overseas entrepreneur considering setting up such an operation there.