Little more than a year ago, Bedford Industries found itself undergoing a steep learning curve when it came to ecommerce. The 55-year-old plastics fabrication manufacturer developed and launched its ecommerce site in a matter of days in April 2020 to capitalize on an opportunity to produce and sell personal protective equipment and components.
One of the things the site did was enable us to handle PPE orders without having to add sales staff.
Jay Milbrandt, CEO
The Worthington, Minn.-based manufacturer’s quick pivot proved successful. With its history of making things like plastic ties and tabs for packaged products, it began producing materials for face shields and masks. The company attracted a new segment of customers in small businesses looking for PPE, and it began serving a new cottage industry of consumers who used Bedford’s materials to produce face masks. Also important, Bedford found its ecommerce site kept sales representatives from being overwhelmed by phone orders for PPE.
Unlike Bedford’s traditional B2B customers, its new buyers among small businesses and consumers looking for PPE were interested in buying smaller quantities, usually a case versus a full pallet. Although the size of PPE orders are smaller in terms of the number of items purchased, the volume of orders is substantial.
Orders for PPE account for 12.5% of Bedford’s total orders, up from 10% in October 2020. On average,…