Technological disruption has and will continue to put pressure on traditional retailers and those businesses directly servicing consumers to meet and exceed relentless expectations.
This digital disruption is also noticeably impacting the traditional B2B customer experience (CX). Businesses which have historically sold to other businesses are increasingly transforming to optimize support for self-service. In many cases, this is forcing branded manufacturers and distributors to directly engage with the end customer farther down their demand chain.
Why the change? Because the B2B buying process is changing. Influenced by their experiences as consumers, businesses are comfortable with technology and use it at every step of their professional purchasing and support lifecycle. This channel shift – from traditional (think representative support, call centers, etc.) to digital – is forcing manufacturers and distributors to evolve to a direct-to-customer/consumer sales model. There’s no denying this is happening. Companies want full ownership of the B2B customer experience, and to manage the relationship at every touchpoint.
CX Advantages of B2B E-Commerce & Digital Strategy
For branded manufacturers, because of the benefits of direct-to-consumer selling, many have disrupted traditional demand chains by adopting this model. To remain competitive, they need to get closer to the end customer. And while manufacturers will not abandon legacy channel relationships, they are responding to customer demands and buying preferences. Using eCommerce and other digital channels, they’re integrating web, call centers, warehouses, and distribution channels while aligning their presence on social media.
In the same way, distributors and resellers are adapting and evolving digitally to strengthen relationships with business customers. The goal? To become the trusted source for product research, purchase, and post-purchase support. By combining comprehensive product information with data around inventory levels and orders, distributors can differentiate themselves and provide significant value to clients.
But B2B customer engagement doesn’t end after the sale. Those purchases need to be seen through to fulfillment. With that, most companies are rethinking their supply chains. Customers don’t settle for either affordable or fast delivery – they want both. So companies are adjusting the last mile to meet customer expectations. But creating an effective last leg of delivery isn’t solely accomplished with traditional supply chains (which can be expensive). It requires new solutions that are just as agile, along with intelligent fulfillment, to ensure your decisions are manageable and profitable.
What Should You Do?
Regardless of where you are in your digital transformation, you need to assess your strengths, be honest about your weaknesses, and have a sense of the opportunity in your market. Don’t go at this alone. While there will always be unique aspects of your business, whether you are a retailer, distributor, or manufacturer, there are plenty of best practices to adopt. Work toward a roadmap that is founded on research and insights on customers and competitors, disruptive and innovative business design, and making smart and creative decisions about technology investments.
To learn about other trends affecting commerce this year, download our guide below.