B2B customers increasingly expect their transactions to become more aligned with the modern consumer experience: intuitive, real-time and customized across multiple channels, or in other words: B2B omnichannel. However, many B2B companies still depend on monolithic legacy systems, which curtail the ability to fulfill this ambition and lock users into more limited experiences.
That’s what a recent McKinsey survey revealed. Its B2B Pulse report, which canvassed 3,500 executives in 12 markets, unveils a clear desire for digital self-service channels to complement traditional methods. And if these aren’t on offer, they are perfectly happy to take their business elsewhere.
Indeed, the report outlines five core ‘must-dos’ that companies must uphold if they do not want customers to actively seek an alternative vendor. These include performance guarantees; online stock availability, B2B omnichannel purchasing; real-time customer service; and consistent experiences across channels.
Moreover, the potential number of channels continues to increase. It was just five in 2016, but increased to ten in 2021. With such a proliferation of routes to market, it can be daunting for businesses to contemplate beginning or continuing this journey. Nevertheless, as the B2B Pulse report shows, companies that sell through more channels are more likely to have gained market share in the last twelve months. In fact, 72 percent of B2B companies that sell via seven or more channels grew their market share, according to the report, making B2B omnichannel a key goal.
How can you implement a B2B omnichannel strategy?
The question remains then: how best can you implement a B2B omnichannel strategy without disrupting your current ecosystem? What technologies best enable this brave new world? The answer is a composable approach to eCommerce, which promises to transform how B2B companies interact with their customers.
Composable commerce represents a shift from an internally focused platform-centric approach to one that is more customer-centric. Microservices, which enable autonomous, business-specific applications, are connected by a web of APIs in a ‘headless’ environment. In practice, this means the core backend applications act independently of the front end and can be assembled in any configuration to meet business needs.
As a result, you enable the composable enterprise, where these components can be innovated and improved constantly in real time. Simply pick the best-of-breed application from any vendor and interconnect them using APIs, swapping them out and updating them as needed. It is an agile, adaptable and feature-rich framework with a pay as you go model that eliminates upfront costs.
How does this enhance your B2B omnichannel capability?
As McKinsey reported, there are now ten alternative retail fulfillment and communication channels, such as email, in-person, phone, website, mobile app, web chat and more. These need to be integrated with unified data and backend CRM and ERP systems. Because the composable approach is headless, it makes it easy to build all the necessary components and connect them without affecting any customer interfaces.
Typical services that are deployed in this environment include core commerce, content and product management, search functionality, reviews and ratings, customer ID management and helpdesk, among others. Find each one best suited to you, and then connect them all together, with a seamless interface with the channels outlined above.
Thus, you can build a robust eCommerce platform with an out-of-the-box ecosystem, which can be continuously improved and updated, and which connects seamlessly to multiple customer touchpoints. This provides a true, always-on B2B omnichannel experience – and a much improved, personalized and convenient experience for customers.
B2B customers prefer B2B omnichannel
The McKinsey report makes it clear that all B2B customers prefer omnichannel, regardless of size, sector or location. It also shows that they are more willing than ever to transfer their loyalty to new suppliers. And it proves that the more channels a business deploys, the more market share it gains. By embracing a composable architecture you can take full advantage of these trends and ensure you have the right channels to communicate with – and sell to – customers old and new.
Find out more about B2B omnichannel and the benefits of composable commerce powered by Emporix here.