The same market forces that created consumer-centric businesses like Afterpay and Deliveroo are at work again – but this time among B2B organizations.
With the sector’s reliance on long-term contracts and traditional relationship building, B2B might seem an odd contrast with these digital businesses largely borne out of consumer frustrations. But with online services leading consumers to expect personalized and seamless experiences in all digital interactions, the B2B e-commerce sector is primed for change.
We’re witnessing the digital evolution of the manufacturing sector, and with this change comes opportunity. For example, Forrester predicts the U.S. B2B e-commerce sector will grow to $1.1 trillion by 2020.
This growth opportunity extends to Australia, and manufacturers not responding will risk losing out to their competitors who are committed to delivering the same rich experiences to businesses that are delivered to consumers.
Traditionally, manufacturers have had difficulty building one seamless experience for buyers given the challenge of removing silos in backend systems. This prevents them from sharing data and analytics between departments, channels, and countries. Simultaneously, existing systems can’t cope with the new pricing, availability, and delivery-sequencing implications of bundled offerings.
To capitalize on the opportunity, B2B organizations must create easy-to-use buying experiences with real-time response, intuitive options for recurring orders, and online accounts that allow customers to view their order history and status and integrate all data points gathered. These must be offered across multiple devices and varying buying platforms.
Finding a system that enables a business to connect its many data points to deliver an omnichannel and personalized experience is key. According to Forrester, 60% of B2B companies report buyers spend more overall when they’re able to interact across multiple channels.
With Amazon also formally announcing its move into the market, there can be no doubt B2B is in for a period of change. In Europe and the United States, Amazon started in the B2C sector and is now actively addressing the requirements of the B2B sector. We can assume it will not be long until Amazon makes B2B a prime focus in the Australian market as well.
The proliferation of mobile within business also opens up countless opportunities to foster strong and lasting customer relationships. It means being able to build on the traditional relationships that governed the B2B sector and provide that same feeling of true customer experience across a number of touchpoints.
So how can manufacturers get on the front foot?
Finding a way to get a single view of the customer is a critical first step. This means implementing a software platform that allows data to flow seamlessly across the supply chain: commerce, customer relationship management, and manufacturing applications. Building a comprehensive view is important to cross-sell and upsell, and it’s a necessity for modern business.
It’s a challenging process, but addressing this technical challenge now allows manufacturers to ensure the system is working for them versus chasing their tail to get their affairs in order before it’s too late. This means communicating the benefits of e-commerce within organizations to take full advantage of the inevitable market conditions coming their way.
Learn more about how digital has changed the sales process in Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.
This article originally appeared in Industry Update.