While digitalisation has been on the ‘wish-list’ of many businesses over the last few years, 2020 catapulted it into near-necessity of more businesses while others still struggled to make a case for it across their organisation.
In many ways 2020 and the pandemic turned businesses upside down, challenging companies to stay afloat as hyper-accelerated digital transformation initiatives have surged ahead forcing what would normally be years of gradual transformation into a one-year overhaul.
If your business was already looking at upgrading prior to the pandemic, you might now feel well and truly behind the ball, struggling to catch up. You’re certainly not alone. 2020 disrupted the industry in ways no one would have predicted.
How can we best prepare for what’s next so that your B2B eCommerce platform will both enable agility and have you best prepared for the future? Has the way in which you should approach e-commerce changed?
The answer is both yes and no. Many things have changed such as the increased demand for digital, the upper hand that brick-and-mortar businesses had over B2B sales and supply chain disruptions, but a lot has stayed the same as well.
A recent study from DigitalCommerce360 reported that even during the pandemic, “80% of companies still depend primarily on their internal sales force to drive revenue, and that nearly three-fourths of manufacturers—70%—don’t yet have a comprehensive digital commerce strategy in place.”
Up until recently, a number of businesses considered their business transformation and digitisation as two separate priorities, particularly in the B2B space and looked at transformation as simply adding new technology. According to McKinsey Digital, “Transformations are about more than just adding new technologies. They are driven by the needs of customers and employees as well as the imperatives of shareholders and regulators. The more holistic understanding of technology’s role requires an entirely new mindset that enables the business and technology organizations to work as one.”
So, what’s stayed the same?
1. Your customer’s expectations. Your customers are still expecting the same level of service and if anything, buyers are moving to expect a more B2C-like experience with the same quality of service from your brand no matter where or how they purchase.
2. Preference for online purchasing. B2B and B2C consumers alike prefer online options, that’s only set to increase.
3. The need for quality user experiences. It’s no secret that B2B buyers get frustrated and are turned off by poor online experiences. Issues like slow websites, difficult navigation, or a purchase experience filled with clunky errors are unacceptable. If your site doesn’t deliver an easy, error-free experience, buyers will take their business elsewhere. The user experience also goes beyond performance. It’s the convenience of having access to the right data like pricing, stock, invoices, order history and deliveries to inform their customers when they need it.
4. Values and brand loyalty are still king. While many things can change, your reliability and commitment to be a strategic partner to your customers will always build loyalty. Especially in the B2B world where repeat ordering drives a substantial portion of a business’ revenue. Don’t drop the ball, always strive to add value to your customer’s by rethinking strategies and staying relevant to them.
5. The importance of agility. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is or what industry you service, it’s important to keep agility top-of-mind. According to a recent Gartner study, 69% of boards of directors (BoDs) accelerated their digital business initiatives in the wake of COVID-19 disruption [in order to achieve better agility], and almost half anticipate changing their organizations’ business model as a result of the pandemic.
So while many things have stayed the same, nowadays it’s simply more important to maintain these key elements in an increasingly digitally-driven world to not just stay ahead but to keep up. And how do you keep up with these key elements while adapting to what has changed?
Investing in a solid e-Commerce plan that’s beyond basic web presence.
Most organisations who do so quickly realise it more than simply an online revenue channel but a means to boost broader change to support larger goals (assuming you choose a platform that can scale and evolve with your business.)
In 2020, Sana conducted research of 100 customers worldwide to reveal 44% of B2B businesses believe e-commerce is a key driver of digital transformation because it drives customer experience and streamlined integration across their tech stack (including ERP systems). Additionally, roughly 75% felt e-commerce helped them meet business goals, including supporting innovation and broader digitisation plans.