eCommerce Strategies for Manufacturers and Distributors with Znode's Tom Flierl

It’s been a hot minute since we covered eCommerce on the show, but since COVID, it’s become a growing part of manufacturing and distribution. COVID lockdowns essentially shut off the traditional methods for buying and selling manufactured supplies, and companies were forced to adopt a new way of doing things or get left behind. It’s meant great things for the industry, so we thought we’d get the eCommerce perspective in this episode from Znode’s Chief Commercial Officer, Tom Flierl.

Tom joins the podcast to explore the link between eCommerce and manufacturing, how Znode presents a seamless solution, and the reasons why there’s been a spike in eCommerce system adoption. We look at how distribution and manufacturing have adapted, and Tom shares some examples of companies that have embraced new solutions and seen the benefits of integrating everything into a one-stop shop solution.

Tom also chats about AI as the next big thing for manufacturers to lean into, why salespeople are still vital for the industry, and some tips on how to assess the effectiveness of an eCommerce solution.


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. While new technology solutions make the deals between customers, distributors, salespeople, and manufacturers more streamlined, eCommerce will always have a need for salespeople.
  2. COVID dramatically spiked the adoption of eCommerce systems because distributors had to evolve or get left behind. However, many are finding that the solutions they adopted aren’t suitable in the long term.
  3. Being an early adopter, whether it’s AI, the internet, or eCommerce systems, may be risk. But sometimes the biggest risk is not trying something new.

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “I think COVID forced a lot of shifts in everybody’s lives. And I think it forced a lot of shifts in even how businesses go to market and the importance of digital.”
  • “The big win that we’re seeing is a lot of ERPs are moving to offer APIs now. Our platform and some others can take those APIs, talk to each other, and present the right data to the right customer when they log in and give them the right experience by exchanging data with lots of other systems.”
  • “It’s all about adoption. If adoption isn’t there, whether it’s the end customer or the distributor or channel, it’s probably not working. I would argue that that applies for distributors and manufacturers.”

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

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What We Discuss with Tom

  • Where eCommerce and manufacturing meet
  • Tom explains what Znode does
  • We hear about Tom’s early experiences in print media and being an “early internet guy”
  • How Tom’s background in sales and marketing helped his career during the dot-com bust
  • How Tom’s family history helped to prepare him for a career in eCommerce and manufacturing
  • The possible causes for the spike in eCommerce system adoption
  • How future-ready are distributors and manufacturers today?
  • How COVID impacted eCommerce system adoption
  • What eCommerce looks like in manufacturing (with examples)
  • Why the role of salespeople in eCommerce is still just as important
  • Dealers and distributors’ approaches to working with eCommerce
  • How people can assess the effectiveness of an eCommerce solution

Recommended Resources

  • Znode, an all-in-one, headless, B2B eCommerce platform developed to enable growth through a rich set of built-in features
  • Request a Demo of Znode’s B2B eCommerce platform
  • Foxtown Brewing, large brewery located inside of a classic building in Mequon, WI

Connect with Tom and Znode

Tom Flierl | Znode