B2B digital operations are emerging as the supporting framework for major B2C channels in the midst of an exponential growth of online customers. According to a study conducted by KPMG and Internet and Mobile Association of India, the Indian e-Commerce industry was pegged around $13 billion in 2013 and is projected to reach $70 billion and contribute 4% to the GDP by 2020.
This upward trend is an important catalyst for the procurement departments who are in constant search for cost-effective sourcing solutions. Moreover, the FDI clause which makes it mandatory for FDI players to procure 30% of the purchases from the MSME sector is helping the resurgence of the B2B sector. However, complex sales channels, diverse product lines, unfavourable government regulations and the sheer volume of purchases still pose important challenges for B2B online platforms.
Competing Analytically: Big Data
It is now essential for businesses to gather all kinds of customer data and analyze the patterns and buying behaviour of customers to take better decisions in every single transaction. Big Data analytics enables businesses to identify the drawbacks in their supply chain through real-time information on suppliers, deliveries and inventories. Analytics helps B2B players to offer personalized services and also allows customer-specific pricing to open up new sales opportunities.
Customer Experience: Following in the footsteps of B2C platforms
B2B customers are now demanding rich, robust, interactive and personalized experiences. B2B players have been slow to adopt intuitive website designs which are user-friendly and enable a seamless shopping experience through multiple channels but changing market dynamics are pushing B2B marketers to embrace digital platforms and technologies to provide their customers a B2C-like shopping experience.
A research study conducted by Forrester says that 46% of B2B e-commerce retailers expect more than half of their customers to shift to buying goods online within three years. Firms are increasingly integrating social media into their supply chains. For instance, DHL Supply Chain adopted the real-time MyWays scheme which allows members of the project to earn and exchange their credits for cash.
Supply Chain Management
E-commerce is affecting not only the purchasing process but also the entire supply chain. Every e-commerce platform is built to function differently where customization according to customer expectations is paramount. However, adapting to these dynamic expectations cannot be simply implemented through predictive analytics. UPS experienced the failure first hand when it was overwhelmed with late eCommerce deliveries and had to inform thousands of customers about the delay in dispatching their Christmas gifts.
Scalable and flexible supply chain platforms help integrating the order management systems with real-time inventory information. Limited transparency has emerged as a major challenge for manufacturers who seek to improve collaboration and performance of their supply chains, in fact, 40% of manufacturers admit having limited visibility across their supply chain.
– An article by Power2SME