$1.2 trillion dollars. Five years. That is the approximate amount of money expected to be generated by international e-commerce B2B transactions, as estimated by Forrester Research, while the traditional business-to-business environment struggles to keep up with the blistering e-commerce pace of B2C activity.
According to a white paper report by DHL Express with the UK's Cranfield School of Management, the shift to online shopping is affecting not just B2C transactions but B2B players as well. DHL's crossborder B2C shipment volume increased from 10 to 20% of their business just in the past year, and DHL CEO Ken Allen says “there is the same potential for crossborder B2B ecommerce.”
Cranfield also identified three different levels of B2B companies who are embracing the new e-commerce standard, from novice companies who are just opening their doors to online business, to intermediate companies who have grasped the fundamentals and are ready to keep up with the change, to innovators, who are truly the leaders of the pack when it comes to developing and incorporating technological digitization in B2B transactions.
Supply chain management will be key to effectively competing in the changing marketplace. There are five changes that the paper specified to maximize commerce growth, which included digital infrastructure, customer experience, customer personalization, seamless integration, and synchronized logistics.
Improved customer experience is the driving force behind all of the five areas of recommendation. Companies which can offer an easier online and mobile connection for their customers will focus on several vital aspects.
One essential change is seemingly apparent but surprisingly overlooked. Website performance and ease of use are driving factors in seeking an elevated customer platform, from accessible product catalogs to streamlined logistical processing and backend systems.
Many B2B companies become so caught up in the “logic” of more straightforward, need-driven business-to-business transactions that they forget the service experience that draws in a potential customer, hence the failure to notice the value of commercial websites.
Another crucial platform to address is that of flexibility in all facets of B2B customer relations and service. As an “international express logistics company,” DHL takes special interest in recognizing how companies in their industry are paramount to providing the flexibility that e-commerce deals require.
Instant gratification is a predominant element of the lure of online shopping, and numerous studies have shown how companies with quicker customer support, transaction confirmation, and delivery options can benefit from increased sales as a response to pressurized customer demand. This is no longer just an element of B2C transactions, but just as important to B2B customers who need the flexibility in their e-commerce logistics behind the scenes to fulfill demand. As a result, delivery and logistics companies' ability to guarantee not only a streamlined but transparent delivery process is an element of flexibility that is no longer a perk, but a prerequisite for evolving B2B companies.