Today nearly every aspect of B2B commerce, from the demand for a hybrid environment to complex logistics challenges, impacts small to midsized manufacturers.
Setting a commerce strategy is mission critical, but that strategy must also reflect the most disruptive forces in the industry. Manufacturers must pay attention to these trends to stay ahead of the competition – and transform challenges into opportunity. For the third year in a row, the commerce experts at Insite have done the work for you and identified the biggest disruptors in the manufacturing industry.
We’re pleased to kick off our 2019 Manufacturing Disruptors Blog Series. Over the next four weeks, you’ll learn about these disruptors, understand why they’re important for your B2B commerce strategy, and gain new ways to use them to your own advantage.
1. Major Channel Disruption
Business customers now want the same kind of self-service experience in their professional lives that they have in their personal lives as consumers – and they’re demanding that experience from manufacturers. And yet, B2B commerce is complex and requires some sort of human assistance within the buying cycle. As the need for robust hybrid commerce experiences is becoming more and more apparent, manufacturers must evaluate distribution channels to determine whether they truly deliver a strong return on investment. Manufacturers must carefully consider which channels are performing – and which ones are not.
2. Extreme Logistics Challenges
B2B commerce has to support the complex needs of customers after the order is made. This might include single orders that need to be delivered to many different locations, and/or billed to different work orders, or a myriad of other logistics requirements that result from multi-site, multi-buyer B2B customers. Once again, the expectations in a buyer’s personal life are crossing over to their professional lives and shaping their needs and wants. For example, requirements for two-day delivery, free shipping, automated returns and exchanges are creating the need for sophisticated warehouse management. And it goes beyond just the warehouse. In fact, many experts believe the competition for the customer will be won by the company that provides the most valuable service after the order is completed.
3. Technology with a Commerce Core
As the need for strong hybrid commerce environments increases, so too does the need for strong technology that can vigorously support those systems. Sales and service departments must be enabled with real time, valid data and it’s impossible to do that without data management architectures that are based on commerce, not as an extension of the CRM, ERP or some other backend system. As the industry progresses, it’s becoming more obvious that eCommerce solutions that are not built with commerce as the core of their design are not as successful.
4. The New Collar Workforce
Although a lot has been written about the new millennial manufacturing worker, the workforce is evolving in ways that go far beyond just age. Technology frameworks like IoT, along with AI and smart products like PPE are creating the need for what has been called a “new collar worker.” This worker not only needs to be technology enabled at work, they also have different requirements for engagement and other culture-based characteristics that contribute directly to the bottom line. These workers demand a new experience that includes a voice, a sense of purpose, and a hand in the decision making. Failure to adapt to the needs of this new group could be quite detrimental to your business.
These 4 disruptors make it clear that small to midsized distributors are facing impacts from many fronts, from hiring, to technology, to the very business itself. Stay tuned to learn more about how these disruptors may impact your business in 2019.