Business strategies are changing. They are becoming more customer-centric, digitally-driven and multi-channel. These changes are in response to the growth in e-commerce, which, whilst expanding the audience reach for many businesses, has also had a direct impact on the viability of brick and mortar stores.
Where most companies have a clear B2B or B2C strategy, a recent industry report sponsored by Nemetos Tanasuk (pre-register for a priority copy released in 2019) shows that this line is beginning to blur, and that online strategies are leading the way.
More resources are being spent building feedback loops, aligning back-end systems with modern e-commerce platforms and building a content portfolio that breaks through the noise in the market. Businesses are driving an ‘inverse show-rooming’ trend – stocking what has proved popular in online searches into physical stores – whilst smaller stores are capitalising on the halo effect of brand association.
And we’re not just seeing this from tech-savvy start-ups. Next, Amazon and Apple are just a few companies branching into new channels in the hope of creating better relationships with their consumers.
The research delivers an industry-first analysis of the key challenges and opportunities of B2C and Direct to Customer (D2C) strategies, providing insights from over 100 business executives. Here’s a sneak peek into some of the themes to arise from the report:
More research is being conducted online, with digital stores becoming an increasing source of shopping inspiration, customers are spending longer browsing online than every before. With consumers placing greater trust in their own research and e-commerce being increasingly more intelligent and personalised, it’s unsurprising that Forrester forecast online retail sales to exceed $500bn by 2020.
Looking beyond the traditional B2B model
Businesses need to comprehend creating a strategy that balances ‘clicks and bricks’. Competing today is no longer about driving footfall in the high-street or depending on channel suppliers. It’s about tapping into your buyer’s journey and providing a pivotal role in the shopper experience. If you sell direct to customer or through channel partners, buyers are still coming to you for research and validation of product quality.
Matt Ballantine advises that D2C must have a clear purpose. Organisations have to understand what they need to do differently and the skills and approaches they need to build in order to enable that to happen.
“It’s about adopting a user centric approach versus a provider centric approach. Businesses need to understand user need, service design and create multi-disciplinary teams to define the consumer proposition. If they are not fundamentally changing the way they operate from B2B2C, then it’s just marketing fluff on the outside.”
Brick and Mortar isn’t dead
Whilst some businesses are retreating to digital spaces, the flagship store lives on. And stronger than ever. Previously pure-online giants such as Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com have made steps to open high-end stores. The difference is, these brands understand that physical store visits need to be worthwhile to the consumer. They trigger the purchase long before a visit is made, then maximise experiential approaches to secure sales and secure repeat business.
Protecting your brand
Nobody is going to love your product as much as you. But you can try and get the consumer to buy into your story, what you stand for. Part of this comes down to ensuring you build strong relationships with your retailers. Whilst most B2B organisations feel they have their hands tied with regard to the in-store experience, you can untie yours by pulling out all the stops to make the retailer’s life as easy as possible. It’s about taking control of your product and brand experience, from innovation labs right through to when it is sat in your customer’s basket.
Younger shoppers are using social channels to conduct their research. And with businesses such as EasyJet making it easy to jump from a social platform onto a highly-personalised e-commerce site, completing a purchase has never been easier. Disrupting traditions and tracking trends proved to be two ways to stay ahead, as well as understanding that not every consumer-friendly platform makes business sense.
These six themes are just the tip of the iceberg.
As well as delving deeper into the above, this exclusive report explores challenges expressed by executives representing multi-channel retailers, pure play operators and bricks and mortar stores from a wide range of sectors.
We will be officially releasing the B2B2C: strategising for sales success report in 2019. To pre-register for a priority copy, please enter your business email here and we’ll add you to the list!