Digitization, networking and mobility are the three essential aspects of digital transformation, which will lead to a fundamental reorientation of society, markets and companies. The significance of digital transformation continues to grow in commerce too: conventional sales structures are being broken down, business relationships and ordering processes are changing and anyone who assumes that this transformation primarily concerns B2C commerce has not yet recognized the signs of the times. B2B commerce in particular must keep pace with digital transformation in order to remain competitive on the market.
The rapid pace of social digitization has an impact on the expectations of B2B customers. In your personal life, you have long been acquainted with Amazon, Zalando and similar platforms. You have already gained excellent user experience and have similar expectations in your professional life. Today, it is impossible to imagine B2B commerce without digitized offers and ordering processes. B2B online shops are already standard in numerous industries. Many companies are discovering e-commerce apps as an additional sales channel. That’s because the trend is clear: B2B is becoming mobile. Companies have to be present where their customers are located. A large number of B2B buyers is already using mobile devices to obtain information and perceives this as a more convenient and faster option. So why not pick up the customer on the spot and close the deal directly? An e-commerce app can seamlessly integrate the entire procurement process: from initially obtaining information, the actual buying process and logistics to returns management – everything is possible.
No doubt digital transformation involves certain difficulties; overcoming them, however, does pay off in the long run. Among other benefits, processes and resources are modernized, customer service is improved and internal processes become more efficient. The brand becomes stronger and the company is perceived as being an innovative organization. Companies continue to develop and those that proactively opt in favor of and implement a strategy geared to meet the challenges of the future continue to remain competitive.
How can a company successfully drive digital transformation in the context of B2B commerce?
The management of every company should clearly define their e-commerce strategy and set specific targets. In this regard, the importance of long-term thinking is vital. Where do the trends lead to? How can a company position itself as an innovative pioneer in its industry and thus gain a technological edge?
Integrating e-commerce solutions in the existing IT infrastructure is a challenge for many companies. Detailed planning and precisely specifying the interfaces are essential for any e-commerce solution to be successful. Many projects fail precisely because of a lack of planning, know-how and due diligence with regard to the structured preparation and processing of data. Saving in the wrong place is surely not advisable. Instead, it would be wise to get professionals on board.
Business relationships and internal processes need to be reviewed and, if necessary, adapted. How would the sales team or dealer network react when all at once sales are generated via an e-commerce platform? How can active support be provided? How will individual roles and responsibilities change? Would special regulations or commissions be required? Clear and transparent communication is crucial in this regard.
External communication is just as important as internal communication. Marketing plays a key role in the success of any e-commerce business. Unfortunately, B2B companies in particular often underestimate this aspect. Generally, on its own, the new B2B e-commerce platform does not sell anything. Short explanatory videos about the benefits and specific monetary incentives will surely arouse curiosity and lower the initial hurdles.