While the majority of consumer and media attention is focused on B2C markets, it’s actually the B2B counterpart that’s been driving more revenue globally in recent years. And when it comes to the B2B world there is an interesting shift occurring. High-quality products and top-notch customer service are taking a back seat when it comes to earning and keeping customers. Other factors are rising to the forefront as companies seek to provide a more gratifying customer experience, and they’re changing supply chain and procurement management.
If relying upon your great product offerings and customer service department isn’t enough to retain customers, what must organizations do to remain competitive? Here are 5 tips to succeeding in the new B2B procurement environment:
1. Focus On the Needs of Your Customers’ Customers
Look beyond your direct customers to the end user and determine where improvements can be made to your current procurement management processes. Disruptions along the way impact the remaining links in the B2B supply chain, so you must predict and avoid them – even if you’re higher up on the distribution ladder. There are many opportunities to improve service along the supply chain, so satisfying each player increases the likelihood that the end user will be happy.
2. Get Your Supply Chain Ready for B2B E-Commerce
It’s predicted that B2B e-commerce will surpass $12 trillion in revenue worldwide by 2020, which represents a four-fold increase from the $5.5 trillion reported in 2012. Your procurement processes must be ready for the challenge, as logistics will be heavily impacted. An efficient supply chain that’s ready for e-commerce must align with the same goals as the B2C world, namely:
- Improving product quality and selection;
- Ensuring product availability; and,
- Managing inventory levels.
3. Implement the Maturity Model of Procurement Management
Organizations that focus on procurement as a core business function, rather than a secondary operation, will be more competitive in the future B2B marketplace. They’ll also be better positioned to adapt to future changes in the global environment when they move through the various levels of the maturity model, from ad hoc to managed to optimized.
4. Obtain Feedback from Your Customers
The best way to please your customers in the new B2B landscape? Talk to them about the specific topics that impact their operations and unique business objectives. Find out what you can do to improve service and get feedback before you implement new technology or changes in your procurement processes. Even slight adjustments in your supply chain management approach can lead to considerable benefits to your customers.
5. Develop Mobile-Friendly Websites
Customer loyalty is determined by different factors today compared to a few years back, and something as basic as a mobile-friendly website can make or break your relationships. According to a recent study, 72% of B2B buyers said they would work with a distributor featuring a user-friendly website; at the same time, it’s estimated that 51% of people going online will buy from distributors that maintain a mobile website. Your organization must deliver what your customers want.
The future of B2B procurement is here, and organizations must respond by doing more to create an enjoyable experience for customers. Great products and service are the foundation, but they should be supplemented by other customer-centric offerings that set your organization apart from your competitors. More efficient procurement management and attention to detail in the supply chain are necessary to keep customers coming back year after year.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.