We have already established that end consumers are lucky because retailers have made searching and buying goods online so easy for them.
Now it is time to make business-to-business consumers’ experience just as good, if not better than he/she would expect in a business-to-consumer transaction.
You can only compete by understanding your consumers’ buying activities in all channels in real time, and then marketing them the right targeted offer at the right time. This is a lot tougher than you would think. If you get it wrong, and try to engage with them prematurely, you could lose the consumer for good.
A lot of companies’ initial response is to bombard a consumer with a ton of emails. My spam folder is full of these merchants’ emails. They wasted their opportunity by prematurely engaging with me.
Once you are able to see what a consumer is doing at every step – Did he download a white paper? Did he Google related products? Did she participate in an online form about the product? –you can time your engagement to when it looks like he is seriously ready to buy.
To do this, you will need to analyze data from social media, websites, sales and CRM systems and put it all together to form a picture. You can then deliver engagement based on specific signals– at the right time in the right place.
Competition for the end consumer business is heating up, especially with the growing trend toward brand-to-consumer marketing. Manufacturers of goods such as Procter and Gamble and Nike are bypassing intermediaries and selling online directly to consumers. Of course, they have their own challenges such as going from a bulk shipment to warehouse model to an on-demand supply chain.
Any B2B company trying to create the B2C experience for buyers will need to be putting technology into place. They will need IT that can integrate multiple channels, manage business processes and analyze data to predict when the moment is right to pounce. The Internet of Things will come into play here as well, helping logistics managers to see where inventory is and monitoring transport and delivery.
If you treat your B2B customers like B2C consumers the experience will be as good as they expect, or better. They will be able to understand their requirements through research, have a simple purchasing process that matches their needs, and easily order products through the method most conducive to these needs at a particular time.
Their products will turn up on time, in the requested quantity and agreed-upon quality. They will be able to rely on the product supplier to provide them with information to better utilize their products on an as-needed rather than fixed time basis.
This is what is called the digital customer experience (CX) model.