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B2B Digital Transformation: Determine Where You Fit

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When organizations begin a digital transformation and eCommerce journey, they often focus solely on technology. In reality, there are business decisions to be made and opportunities to explore before technology even comes into play. After you’ve set your objectives and evaluated your market, you’re ready to find where you fit in the market. Explore opportunities to expand and evolve your current strategy. Can you offer new products? Can you sell from supplier stock, thereby reducing inventory-carrying costs? Can you reach new customers? It may be useful to evaluate these and other opportunities to provide new value to existing customers or attract new customers altogether.

Online Marketplaces

If you decide to bypass your distributor network to sell straight to the end user, online marketplaces are an excellent place to start. Sites like Amazon, Overstock, and Wayfair are great examples of third-party sites you can leverage to build an enhanced relationship with your end customers. When buyers are searching for a product online, you want to ensure they find yours. It is also key to understand where they are in their journey and how you can fulfill the needs of those buyers.
Are they doing research, comparing products, purchasing, or looking for support post-purchase? If they are prepared to purchase, and you are not selling direct, you may consider providing links to marketplace sites or distributors where they can complete their purchase.

Distributor Fulfillment

One strategy many B2B businesses are adopting is acting as an intermediary between suppliers and buyers. After building an eCommerce platform with a positive user experience (UX), you can expand your online offerings to products you neither produce nor stock. Acting as a marketplace of sorts, you can include the goods and services of other brands in your catalog. This means you don’t have to invest in inventory or handle fulfillment, but rather you can act as a channel for third-party sellers and provide great user experiences, add additional value to the market, and attract new traffic.

Selling eCommerce Capabilities

Some larger, more progressive manufacturers that have developed an excellent eCommerce experience have chosen to offer those capabilities to smaller channel partners. By creating eCommerce sites for those channel partners, everyone wins. The larger organizations maximize their channel, and smaller distributors reap the rewards of an improved digital presence. If you chose to explore this business model, it’s important to evaluate the expenses associated with creating these platforms and compare them to the cost benefits at scale.

White Label Products

In commodity markets, many manufacturers and distributors choose to provide white label products. White label products are unbranded and may either be leveraged by manufacturers to secure distribution relationships, or by distributors to support their brand. By adopting this strategy, you can focus on production and supply chain while limiting investment in marketing and brand engagement. Selling white label goods to distributors will allow you to monetize on your channel partners’ customer bases, marketing capabilities, and web traffic. White label products often bring cost advantages as well, appealing to cost-driven buyers since brand and sales investments are reduced.
For the next steps in preparing for digital transformation in B2B, check out our guide.

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