Digital Disruption in B2B Commerce Markets

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Digital transformation promises manufacturers and distributors an unprecedented opportunity to drive business value and improve competitive standing in their markets. It is achieved by leveraging digital technologies to profoundly change the customer experience, increase operational efficiencies and productivity, and improve employee collaboration. Remaining relevant and making your business more competitive through digital transformation is challenging for most organizations. Not only does it create disruption in your market with new and competitive business value for your customers, it also creates a digital disruption within the organization as the transformation unfolds and takes shape.

Business Leaders Who Once Slept Well, Maybe Not So Much Now

For decades a lot of manufacturing plants and distribution centers were well-oiled machines, benefiting from the incremental industrial and operational improvements that came with years of refinement. But then something started to happen on the commerce end of the business.

Almost overnight in some markets, one or two competitors started applying digital technology to their sales channels, usually in the form of a website or customer portal. The early websites tried to simulate popular consumer shopping websites of the day, but retrofitting a complex B2B business model on the chassis of a simpler B2C business model created software that was clunky to use and didn’t have the power to process the density of business variables typical of B2B transactions.

In the meantime the B2B buyer persona was changing. Doing business face-to-face with a hand shake over a business lunch or golf game was being replaced with the desire to research and self-serve online. Similar to how we’ve seen digital technology disrupt the consumer markets (think greeting cards, encyclopedia publishing, book stores and taxi service), digital technology was about to disrupt B2B markets. B2B buyers began to ask why the online experience they enjoyed in the online consumer markets wasn’t available in the B2B markets. And the disruption began — along with sleep loss for some.

Digital Disruption Drives up Customer Expectations

(I’ll Have What They’re Having) 

As sellers who adopt modern digital commerce in various B2B markets catch the attention of buyers and competitors, buyer expectations climb (I’ll have what they’re having), while other sellers urgently try to keep up. Depending on where your B2B organization is in the digital race, B2B markets are being disrupted by digital commerce for better or worse.

Currently almost all B2B buyers go to the Internet first to research products (over 90%) and make most of their purchasing decision (over 60%) before ever coming into contact with the seller. Furthermore, more than half of online research is coming from mobile devices. Sellers who aren’t online at all, or who are but aren’t providing the right customer experience, are on the wrong end of the disruption.

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

What it all means is that today’s manufacturers and distributors not only need a strong presence on the ubiquitous Internet, they need to give their tech savvy customers the online experience they’re expecting, at anytime, from any type of device, that is robust enough to process your unique set of business requirements. You’re either disrupting your market by offering all that, or you’re being disrupted by competitors who already have it and now you have to rush to keep up. Adopting state-of-the-art B2B eCommerce technologies is your best and most exciting opportunity to meet customer needs, increase transactions, advance operational efficiencies and lower costs.