Seventy-five percent of B2B buyers find it more convenient to buy online than from a sales rep, according to Forrester’s Death of a B2B Salesman report. As B2B buyers are increasingly shifting away from traditional purchase paths, they expect an experience similar to consumer shopping:mobile and self-service. With business e-commerce in the US projected to exceed 1.2 trillion dollars by 2020, the pressure is on to capture this growth and bring digital transformation into B2B go-to-market operations.
In order to tackle the shift to digital, maintain market share, and maximize growth, B2B brand manufacturers must invest to improve on their existing infrastructure. Here are the top three things leading brands are doing to tackle the digital shift.
1. Leading B2B Brands Ditch Legacy Systems
Old technology stacks are notoriously inflexible and consistently break down. In short, they weren’t built to solve modern problems. Legacy systems eat into your profits by increasing downtime and driving maintenance costs up while holding your brand back from success on the digital shelf.
According to Digital Commerce’s “Best Practices in Manufacturing B2B ECommerce” report, B2B brands are focusing “launching new solutions or modernizing their legacy solutions to better support their retailers, dealers, wholesalers and distributors online.” Aging technology solutions often cannot support SaaS integrations or connect through the cloud.
Organizations will face increased bottlenecks and roadblocks with key partners if they cannot work with their systems. Brands that embrace digital transformation and transition away from legacy systems will be in a stronger position to gain market share with the digital first buyer.
2. Leading B2B Brands Embrace Mobile
Nearly half of B2B buyers are millennials according to a 2015 Google Report. Recognizing this generational change in buying power can empower brands: understanding your new target audience and how they want to research and purchase will help you with the beginning steps of a digital shopping experience.
Millennials are digital first in all facets of their life and as they race toward being the biggest percentage of the workforce, B2B brands must transform to capture that audience. They expect the same digital experiences across all channels and digital interactions -- if your organization is not channeling efforts into creating a strong mobile experience for customers and employees, you will lose out on their purchasing power.
3. Leading B2B Brands Integrate their CRM, ERP & Other Systems for Stronger Interoperability
No business can act as an island in the digital age. Connect your platforms - like CRMs, ERPs, PIMs, DAMs - to work together for optimal operational efficiency and increased connectivity across the business. Marketing, sales, and product teams must collaborate. The ability to use data across these platforms to go to market quickly and customize digital experiences based on endpoint is crucial to success.
Each customer or channel could have variant pricing, discounts, rebates and promotions—each of which could potentially come from a different source. An integrated Saas Stack provides companies greater insight how to manage aspects of their supply chain. Unifying systems is an incredibly powerful and simple way to maximize an ecommerce system to deliver the best experience for customers and consumers.
Every industry has been disrupted by the digital shift -- B2B brands reticent to change, make fall even further behind those adjusting their systems to the digital demands of customers and consumers.