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Manufacturers Must Adapt to the Rise of B2B eCommerce 

4 tips for a successful digital transformation 

The B2B buying process is under constant scrutiny. Long sales cycles, complex orders involving multiple parts and components, intense competition, and changing buyer demographics are making it essential for manufacturers to adopt a digital-first approach to purchasing. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. Companies that adapt to these new buying best practices are setting their businesses up to thrive, now and in the future, whereas those resistant to change risk being left behind.

Modern manufacturers are adapting to the rise of B2B eCommerce by evolving their sales strategies and embracing digital-first approaches. We’ve compiled 4 tips for how to successfully undergo a digital transformation.

1. Determine Digital Strategy and Investment

By adopting a digital-first mindset, manufacturers can modernize their sales process to meet B2B buyer preferences. It’s a must to keep up with the competition. Research shows that 80% of CEOs are increasing digital technology investments. This includes establishing basic structures for a company-wide digital strategy and building out a roadmap for completion. If you don’t already have a strategy in place, you’re behind, as surveys show that 56% of manufacturers are investing in this type of work.

Once the strategy and roadmap are defined, it’s important to find the right tools to support your company goals. Modern manufacturers are investing in digital commerce tools such as EDI and ordering portals, digital marketing tools, configure, price, and quote (CPQ) solutions, CRM platforms, ERP systems, and 360-degree customer view data platforms to help generate more leads and sales.

But all the fancy tools and digital-first strategies won’t matter if you don’t get your team on board with the change. A systematic change management process must be prioritized early in the planning process to build internal buy-in for a digital-first sales approach.

2. Enhance Customer Experience

Don’t overlook existing customers when developing your digital strategy. Using technology effectively is critical to nurturing and enhancing the customer experience. McKinsey reports that 62% of buyers prefer to reorder products online. Armed with better customer insight, manufacturers can make data-informed decisions on how to cross-sell, upsell, enhance, and delight the customer. Here are three ways technology is being used to understand customer expectations and improve customer experiences:

  • Customer Portals: Having an accurate 360-degree view of the customer ensures that outreach can be tailored based on each customer’s buying preferences. It also lessens the reliance on institutional knowledge that resides in a single customer service rep, which puts the company at risk when there is employee turnover.
  • Value-Added Services: By investing in technology, you can open new business models and revenue streams. For example, selling connected machines and metered pay-as-you-use services.
  • Data-Driven Insights: By eliminating internal data silos, manufacturers can create a consistent customer experience across departments.

3. Understand Technology Implementation and Integration

As your digital toolkit becomes more sophisticated, it’s important that the various technologies work together to create a streamlined and effective sales process. Understanding the integration capabilities from the start will save future headaches of having to figure it out after the fact.

For example:

  • Integrating a B2B eCommerce solution with an ERP provides customers with real-time product information, faster fulfillment, and personalized experiences. This integration creates a single source of truth for inventory, reducing stockouts and overselling, while also streamlining operations and improving customer satisfaction.
  • Integrating B2B eCommerce platforms with other digital commerce technologies, such as CPQ, CRM, and ERP, can streamline sales processes by eliminating manual data entry and reducing errors. This integration also improves insights into customer behavior and preferences, driving marketing effectiveness.
  • Blockchain technology can be adopted for secure and transparent tracking of products throughout the supply chain.

4. Overcome Digital Transformation Challenges

Digital transformation is a major undertaking for any manufacturer and it’s not without its challenges. Plan for these common roadblocks to prevent them from impacting your progress.

  • Initial Investment: Understandably, there is often concern about the upfront investment required for a digital transformation. By creating clear metrics, you can successfully measure ROI throughout the transformation to justify the project and understand its impact on revenue. Your goal metrics may include categories like customer experience (satisfaction scores, retention/churn rates, and acquisition costs), supply chain (on-time delivery performance, logistics costs, and supplier performance), and sales (average deal sizes, lead conversion rates, and sales productivity). Tracking the metrics that matter most to your business will ensure that you maximize your digital investment.
  • Internal Resistance: Overcoming internal resistance to change is a challenge, with management playing a crucial role in leading the transformation. Find your advocates early and help educate internal stakeholders on how this transformation will help achieve company goals. When done right, embracing technology in the sales process can transform corporate culture and increase collaboration between departments.
  • Skill Gap: Implementing new technology will undoubtedly change the way employees perform their daily tasks. Get ahead of this potential skill gap by providing training to teach employees how to manage and maintain the new digital systems.

Manufacturers are making substantial investments in digital strategies to ensure they do not fall behind in the competitive landscape. The willingness to adapt and the strategic implementation of digital technologies are key to their success in the evolving B2B eCommerce space. Now is the time to assess your current capabilities, identify areas for improvement, and develop a roadmap for change to ensure your business remains relevant and thrives in the digital future of B2B sales.

No matter where you’re at on your digital transformation journey, finding an eCommerce partner you can trust is essential to success. Channel Software and our CSX eCommerce platform can help bridge the gap between your business and digital success. By leveraging our proven eCommerce software technology and 20+ years of B2B expertise, you can confidently drive your company’s online growth. Take the first step towards transforming your online presence and driving growth – partner with Channel Software today.

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