The worst thing B2B retailers can do right now? Make this costly mistake
The increase in e-commerce is putting pressure on legacy retailers: Here are four keys to a successful transformation:
As e-commerce booms and becomes a larger part of the of the retail landscape, a completely new hierarchy has established itself within legacy B2B retailers:
At the top level are the players who have successfully transformed their business to compete within the new omnichannel reality. A reality where physical stores, online stores, inventory management, marketing and customer service must work together to support each other and make the company stronger than it has ever been before.
The next step is filled with companies that are in the process of making their transformation. They are making the necessary investments and strategic reshuffles. They are on the right track, but the pieces haven’t quite fallen into place.
The bottom rung belongs to companies which, broadly speaking, are walking the same path they have always followed. They may have set up a webshop, but their underlying infrastructure remains largely unchanged, so their transformation has not really started.
The most successful retail companies are transforming their business into omnichannel. Read how in our latest e-book: Transformation in B2B retail: 5 challenges and how to solve them.
The four elements of a successful transformation for B2B retailers
For all legacy B2B retailers, the transition to the new omnichannel reality is, quite simply, a requirement.
How successful that transformation is made will determine the balance of power in the retail trade of the future.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the four keys to a successful transformation from brick-and-mortar to omnichannel:
1. Access to the right skills
According to Henrik Bo Christoffersen, Principal Architect at AlfaPeople, there are four main elements to a successful transformation for B2B retailers: skills, strategy, data and system.
“The very first thing companies have to do is look at the skills they have available. Building a webshop is one thing, but your organization must also have the skills to run the webshop on a daily basis. This includes everything from inventory management to marketing, customer service and more. Companies must map out which competencies they will need. And then decide which skills they should have in-house, and which should be acquired from an external partner,” explains Henrik Bo Christoffersen.
2. Implement an overall strategy for omnichannel efforts
Competencies lead quite naturally to the next point in a successful transformation: strategy.
Sometimes a business reduces the omnichannel concept into something as basic as whether or not to have a webshop.
This is the wrong way to go, says Henrik Bo Christoffersen. In order to be successful with a new webshop, B2B retailers must plan for all the steps taken by the modern consumer on their buying journey, including marketing, inventory management and much more.
It is a strategic exercise.
“The webshop itself is only a technical enabler to be able to sell online. You need marketing to get customers onto the website. You need a well-thought-out structure in the webshop to achieve customer satisfaction and additional sales. You must have a plan for how to connect your physical stores and your warehouse to your webshop. In other words, there is a need for a comprehensive strategy that covers all aspects of the company’s omnichannel presence,” says Henrik Bo Christoffersen.
3. Make data functional and searchable
The third step in your transformation is data.
First of all, a webshop involves a wealth of diverse data. Not only data about individual products, but also data relating to brands, categories, pricing, sizes, product types, etc. This data must be indexed, made usable and searchable.
You must create a simple and searchable structure on your webshop that makes it easy for customers to find what they are looking for. They must also be able to see whether a product is in stock and when it can be delivered.
You need to collect and manage data about your customers in order to suggest the right products based on previous purchases. Algorithms should personalize your webshop so that the products customers see have a meaningful relationship to previous purchases.
All of these mechanisms are based on data.
“Brick and mortar retailers have, of course, also worked with data, but omnichannel has increased the amount of data dramatically. And the need to use that data correctly has also grown,” says Henrik Bo Christoffersen.
4. Integrate systems on one unified 365 platform
Running an omnichannel business is complex.
In order to gather and synchronize the various processes, Henrik Bo Christoffersen points to the fourth element in the successful transformation: the system.
“The right system for omnichannel is characterized by flexibility and versatility. The more tasks you can solve in the same IT system and the more data you can synchronize across the channels, the better your company will perform,” explains Henrik Bo Christoffersen from AlfaPeople.
The importance of having the right system in place has been highlighted in several reports on legacy retailers and omnichannel.
Read our latest e-book, which gives you answers on how to solve the 5 biggest challenges in B2B retail: Transformation in B2B retail: 5 challenges and how to solve them.
If you are interested in reading more about digital transformation in B2B retail, visit our blog.