In B2C retail, an omnichannel paradigm is the new gold standard, paving the way for similar progress for B2B. There are several major benefits to a more coordinated digital strategy, not the least of which is the ability to align channels towards the creation of a cohesive customer facing brand experience. On the back end, the ability to collect customer data and incorporate it into a single view has major potential for brands who can tailor their programs around progressively more segmented insights based on this information.
Key points include:
- Organization of ecommerce and digital marketing strategies
- Growing digital sales
- Need to integrate point solutions into omnichannel
As digital commerce grows, the perceptions and expectations of the average consumer are changing with them. In B2C retail, an omnichannel paradigm is the new gold standard, paving the way for similar progress for B2B. There are several major benefits to a more coordinated digital strategy, not the least of which is the ability to align channels towards the creation of a cohesive customer facing brand experience. On the back end, the ability to collect customer data and incorporate it into a single view has major potential for brands who can tailor their programs around progressively more segmented insights based on this information.
However, progress towards a fully integrated digital strategy can be difficult for B2B brands. On top of the logistical challenges posed by integration of siloed point solutions, they are facing the need to overcome internal resistance and create executive buy-in for new or revamped programs.
Despite these issues, the trend towards more fully developed ecommerce capabilities is clear,and the large majority of B2B companies are predicting significant gains in the sales they will make through digital channels year-over-year. The rising importance of ecommerce has lead to the creation of management roles with ownership over elements of a brand’s digital performance, encompassing the back and front end capabilities of their ecommerce platforms, content and social strategies, brand management, and customer experience.
While many B2B companies are still just beginning to develop their ecommerce operations, the majority are also projecting bullish growth year-over-year. The growth of omnichannel strategies within the B2B community has been steady, but the majority are still working toward the creation of a truly omnichannel sales and marketing strategy. Still, the larger part of these businesses are projecting that their digital sales will grow by a significant amount within the year, indicating that progress may be exponential.
The buy-in for investing in digital and ecommerce projects is largely present, and where executives may be resistant, they are being persuaded to come around by a need to keep pace with a changing market and customer expectations. The writing is on the wall as more and more business is done through digital channels. For an example of how to progress towards an omnichannel paradigm, B2B businesses need only to look to their peers in B2C retail. B2B buyers may evaluate products using different criteria from their B2C counterparts, but they are coming to expect the same levels of customer experience and convenience that they get from big name retailers. Momentum towards a responsive, consumer friendly digital presence will only grow in importance as more B2B players seek to develop their ecommerce capabilities.
Omnichannel customer experiences and unified back end data present major opportunity for B2B, but the majority of respondents have yet to achieve this level of integration. Within B2B companies, ecommerce point solutions are fairly common, yet there can be a significant challenge when it comes to integrating the data that they provide. Integrating information from point solutions to contribute to a central “golden data record” is a long-term goal of many B2B companies.
Continue to justify the need for digital transformation, building on internal buy in. A class of executives in charge of digital and ecommerce initiatives are helming B2B’s strategic transition towards omnichannel, serving as the main proponents of transformation within their organizations. Currently, the majority either have full buy in or are taking steps towards creating it, yet B2B companies are spread out on the path to full integration. Maintaining a case for further ecommerce investment based on positive results is critical in order to keep ahead of the curve.
Prioritize scalability in your ecommerce and marketing strategy. With B2B brands predicting significant year-over-year growth in their digital sales, one of the keys to success will be the ability to rapidly scale programs to keep pace with customer expectations and increased traffic. Access to data that can help inform business strategy will be a key component of accurately forecasting and meeting demand, making it critical that access is worked into your relationships.
Move towards a single “golden data record” that pulls from all of your channels. The most commonly used point solutions within B2B companies are those supporting their ecommerce operations. As ecommerce sales become a larger part of total annual revenues, B2B companies should be making sure that these solutions provide data that can be integrated into a centralized database.
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