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ASCM Insights

B2Bs Should Think Like B2Cs to Excel at E-Commerce


E-commerce and omnichannel continue to shape the way business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations identify and establish key priorities. But this buying shift is not limited to the B2C sector; it’s happening in the business-to-business (B2B) industry too — and sellers of industrial products need to take note. According to a recent McKinsey study, about two-thirds of B2B buyers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service for interacting with their sales representatives. Only 20% of buyers want to go back to the days of in-person sales.

On the other side of the relationship, more than 80% of B2B leaders have found that omnichannel is more effective for interacting with new and existing customers compared with traditional sales methods. More than 40% report that it is their most effective route to sales, above in-person sales at 37% and video sales at 31%.

These shifts are expediting the push for e-commerce operations to become a permanent fixture in the business operations of industrial brands. Of course, the process of moving the B2B marketplace online was already happening before the pandemic too. Advanced technology platforms, such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning (ML), were already evolving and dramatically advancing the efficiency of business processes. The advanced underpinnings of marketplaces require an equally advanced technology platform to help industrial product companies establish, increase and advance e-commerce sales.

Using digital tools to reach and serve customers

To be successful in today’s changing digital climate, industrial brands should reposition themselves for success by digitizing operations and selling their products on leading online marketplaces, such as Amazon Business. Because Amazon Business is on track to reach $80 billion in revenue by 2025, joining this B2B marketplace will give companies the chance to transform into e-commerce titans themselves.

But what do businesses need to do to leverage this opportunity? The simple answer is to adopt emerging digital platforms that work diligently and on multiple levels to engineer e-commerce outcomes and help them stand out in a complex market. Buyers are inundated each day with advertisements from various sellers, so it is mission-critical for industrial product companies to use a digital platform that helps them focus on their unique offerings and service excellence in order to gain a competitive advantage in the e-commerce marketplace.

A robust AI and ML platform can enable businesses to navigate complex marketplaces and increase profitability by using dashboard-reported AI data to track, identify and leverage real-time pricing intelligence to determine the best pricing position to attain optimal profit. In addition, companies can leverage Amazon marketing services to optimize resources supplied by the online marketplace giant. One available service is Amazon’s advertising spend, which allows businesses to enhance their marketing strategies by using the e-commerce expert’s search engine.

These solutions also help ensure the business has a steady supply to meet the demand of online B2B consumers. This can be done by using a forecasting tool that works with Amazon’s A9 algorithm, analyzes purchase order history, and tracks and updates inventory. Having a good handle on inventory also can help companies train their customer service team members to best handle orders for out-of-stock items in order to reduce late shipments and chargebacks.

Plus, creating a robust online portfolio can increase brand awareness by ensuring marketing materials such as product images and videos are available for buyers to view. Also, providing real-time data insight and implementing a detailed mapping system cab help businesses navigate the complexities of online marketplaces.

Finally, advanced accounting and auditing automation tools make it possible to maintain complex accounting processes that may have caused disruptions in the past. Automating these processes helps businesses identify discrepancies in shortage claims, duplicate billings and late chargebacks. Additionally, an AI and ML platform provides sophisticated tools that streamline monthly auditing processes to prevent costly chargebacks.

All of these capabilities enhance a company’s e-commerce presence by digitizing marketing and sales efforts across multiple online marketplaces. This, in turn, gives the business time to focus on its products, search engine optimization and content optimization gaps. With all of these efforts running at optimal levels, companies can better compete and align themselves with leading brands. The result is a profitable industrial product company with advanced e-commerce operations. 

About the Author

Rohan Thambrahalli Founder and CEO, UpstartWorks

Rohan Thambrahalli is founder and CEO of UpstartWorks.

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