We all know that the online store has transformed the retail space forever. Customers have changed their entire shopping habits whilst businesses have discovered hundreds of potential touch points and channels to engage with their customers. This is all in the mature B2C eCommerce industry whilst in comparison, the B2B space is relatively young. The B2B market is gaining on the B2C market, with the gap increasingly narrowing. Similar to how eCommerce disrupted traditional customer retail, it is increasingly altering the way manufacturers and distributors do business. Here are two key trends to watch out for over the next few years.
Heightened Customer Expectations: A Focus on Fulfilment Times
We now live in a world of instant gratification; customers want the latest information now. Customers buy something online and expect it immediately. Global giants such as Amazon alongside the rise of wholesalers such as Alibaba are setting a standard that local firms have to meet. Manufacturers that cannot turn product around in short order to meet key customer time frames simply miss out on online shelf space.
Firms attempting to meet challenging time frames will need to rely on manufacturing inventory management software to keep track of every moving part. Going back to Amazon, managing inventory is an increasingly complex task as firms become more global and demand rises. Inventory management software is a key tool that can act as a centralised hub for all your systems. Stock levels, tracking goods sent out and seeing what's popular are just some of the countless ways that inventory management software can lessen the load.
The Growing Need for UX and CRM
User Experience, or as it’s most commonly known, UX, is a digital experience that quickly gained traction in B2C markets. Indeed, it is now beginning to do the same for B2B. Whilst admittedly slower due to the more complex buying process that exists in B2B markets, UX is increasingly being used to improve sales. Everything from a personalised landing page to recommended products based off of purchase history can be used to improve UX, which most importantly, helps the bottom line. Businesses are slowly becoming aware of the importance of UX and are increasingly using third-party digital agencies or hiring their own in-house digital teams to help them excel in this area.
Whilst UX is largely concerned with the online experience, customer relationship management remains vital even in the online environment. Delivering on your commitments is essential, particularly in the dispatch and fulfilment space. To help keep track of all your orders and to manage the logistics process from end to end, consider manufacturing inventory management software that fulfils all your needs. This will help ensure stability and accuracy in all things inventory whilst also empowering your customer service team when handling complaints. This remains just as important a part of the customer experience as the UX.
Although eCommerce is a relatively new development in the B2B space, the ability to meet tight customer-imposed deadlines and the standard of a firm’s customer experience are beginning to differentiate high quality manufacturers and distributors from the rest of the pack.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.