By Mike Luthman, Managing Consultant, Product Solutions, Infoverity, Inc.
One of the most prominent shifts occurring in the world of commerce today is the expansion of B2C capabilities within traditional B2B companies Whether through a full B2C rollout, or through advancement into more consumer-focused online purchasing experiences, companies are rapidly expanding into new sales channels. This paradigm shift is being driven by a few primary factors for companies in the B2B space.
B2B businesses are exploring and investing in a new method of B2C commerce themselves, through strategies such as new product offerings, expansion of past offerings, or opening of business-facing catalogs directly to the customer. This shift in mindset, in conjunction with the rise of eCommerce, has allowed for B2B companies to compete in market segments previously thought to be impossible. This new ‘dual-threat’ capability of modern B2B companies allows for opportunities to realize both greater revenue and a larger customer base.
Today’s customers, regardless of industry or space, expect that purchasing experiences will happen in an “Amazon-like” way. These online selling innovations have trickled down into other industries, creating a more homogeneous buying experience for consumers, focused on comfort and ease of use. As a result of this consumer-focused experience, B2B downstream partners like distributors and retailers should operate with the customer at the forefront.
While this transition may have begun prior to COVID-19, there is now much greater urgency to achieve results, as businesses are now in a new arena of competition. Traditional partners (i.e. distributors & retailers) may become new competitors and may even cannibalize sales in channels where they typically do not compete. One industry experiencing this shift is fashion retail. Manufactures today are choosing to sell their items direct from their own website, taking sales from downstream channels like brick and mortar retailers. Due to the mass of circumstance, it’s unlikely that consumer purchasing methods and habits will ever fully return to what they were pre-COVID-19. This is the new reality.
The key question upon which industries hinge is, “What is the customer buying experience we need to create?”
There are a plethora of new and common customer requirements for businesses to focus on in order to create the ideal buying experience:
- Modern UI, catered to primary usage on smartphones
- Capturing, protecting, and utilizing customer data effectively and efficiently
- Experience personalization through data analytics and cookies
- Smooth intuitive buying experience, with no ambiguity
- Complete product information to fully inform buying decisions
- Data and assets to provide post-sale support, like install guides or warranty documentation
- Multiple product delivery options with safety in those options for both customers and supply chain workers. Customers are conscious for both their own safety and that of the staff and partners of whom they’re buying from
Due to the nature of newness, many obstacles must be overcome for a business to successfully integrate the new methods and processes required as part of the transition from B2B to B2C.
- Most B2B businesses have never had any need to store, maintain or analyze data about the end customer.
- The need to manage, protect, and enrich this data across a higher volume of customers requires an overhaul of data governance and systems solutions.
- With the paradigm shift in customer behavior, along with mountains of customer data, comes the expectation of modern commerce amenities to institute some form of “loyalty” program.
- While a program does not necessarily ensure loyalty, it has quickly become a key asset to every business. Without a program in place, not only will customers seek out competitors, but revenue gains from returning customers will diminish.
- The modernization and evolution of the warehouse becomes more essential than ever.
- Businesses who used to ship in crates or pallets now need to supply much smaller orders in higher order volume. This change forces businesses to maintain new SKUs, dimensions, inventory, and pricing in a greater number of Units of Measure (UOM). The warehouse must expand and adapt to handle those new types of orders, often with new warehouse lines built for smaller packaging.
- Businesses must adopt new distribution models (Buy Online Pick-Up In-Store, Buy Online Ship To Store, Buy Online Pickup Curbside, Buy Online Pick Up in Locker, Buy Online Ship From Store)
- The need to provide customer purchasing options is crucial and has become even more paramount due to the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses now must implement new logistical processes and associated data management strategies to provide a wide range of pickup options.
- Shipping options must expand to new sets of carriers – many needing to offer LTL capabilities.
- Finally, a business must rethink customer return strategies and offerings
- A multitude of new requirements has arisen from the COVID-19 health crisis across the world. Businesses must now consider the cleaning & disinfectant of returns, and subsequent disposal of items that do not meet health standards upon return.
The primary driver behind the shift to modern processes, customer experiences and systems solutions is data. As we look at the business climate today, there is an even higher premium on creating, acquiring, enriching, and syndicating the most complete and accurate product information available to enable the shift from B2B to B2C. Data cleanup and management can often be a daunting task but is crucial to better the long-term success of any business. As areas like predictive analytics and machine learning grow alongside the ever increasing exabytes of data collected, the way that businesses become informed and make decisions around these areas will only become more important.
Infoverity offers industry-leading experience, solutions and accelerators in all areas of data management, across all domains of master data and inclusive of data onboarding/creation, enrichment, governance, syndication, analytics and performing health checks to determine if your existing systems are ready and capable to drive the new customer experience. All these areas are themselves important in the transition to B2C. Infoverity provides strategic roadmap planning all along your data journey.
The ability to collect, enrich and syndicate higher quality data to your new customers while serving them with a fresh experience is the new normal in eCommerce. With consumers expecting an intuitive, customer-focused buying experience, companies must pivot to focus on user buying experience first and foremost. By utilizing well-structured data processes, assets, governance and syndication to eCommerce platforms, companies can offer customers a welcoming purchasing experience, even if it was never an option before.
Infoverity benefits our clients through our ability to effectively and efficiently power the pivot to B2C strategies. Through driving enhanced conversion from shopping to buying, fewer returns and optimized operations, a seamless transition to the “new normal” is more realistic than ever.
In our experience, a Product Information Management (PIM) and/or a Multi-Domain Master Data Management (MDM) solution is at the very epicenter of success as any business transforms from the traditional B2B commerce model to B2C.
Whether you have no solution, a reliance on spreadsheets, or even a mature PIM solution, actions must be taken to align to your evolving business models and processes.
In 12 weeks or less, Infoverity’s PIM QuickStart enables critical data modernization for the expansion of B2C capabilities within traditional B2B companies. PIM QuickStart implementations modernize your product data management processes at a rapid pace and demonstrate the benefits of consolidated product content. Click here to learn more. You can also download a PDF info sheet on the PIM QuickStart.
For information on how Infoverity’s MDM solutions, accelerators, and health checks can improve your customer experience and increase sales, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 2011, Infoverity is a leading systems integrator and global professional services firm that provides MDM and PIM Strategy and Implementation, Data Governance and Analytics, Content Management, Data Integration, Enterprise Hosting, Managed Services and Customer Experience Solutions that help large enterprises in the retail, consumer goods, manufacturing, distribution, financial and healthcare sectors to simplify and maximize the value of their information. Infoverity’s global headquarters is in Dublin, Ohio, the EMEA headquarters and Global Development Center is in Valencia, Spain and additional offices are in France, Germany and Russia.
Infoverity partners with leading PIM/MDM vendors: Akeneo, Dell Boomi, EnterWorks, Informatica, Riversand and Stibo.