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Without a digitized customer platform, you’re dead in the water. It’s no longer a nice to have but rather an essential facilitator of business growth. Here’s why…

Platform businesses are the new stars of the digital revolution. Put differently, platforms are to the digital revolution what factories were to the industrial revolution. Platforms deliver compelling customer experiences, encourage digital innovation and create significant value. It’s for this reason that they’re disruptive and dominant market forces, creating communities of enormous scale.

Digital platforms are now pervasive:

In almost every industry around the world, digital platforms are transforming market competition. The platform revolution in the B2C space that was brought about by eCommerce, FinTech and circular economy business models, is now increasingly prevalent in the B2B space through innovation-based ecosystems and data-enabled business models. As pervasive as platforms are, a 2018 white paper from Accenture and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) suggests that not every business has the opportunity or means to develop and own a platform. Some will find that leveraging existing platforms is simpler and more cost effective as they access new ecosystems or become enablers or providers of new services, products or customer experiences.

Digital platforms skyrocket business performance:

In addition to lowering the cost of operations, the BearingPoint Institute also suggests that digital platforms have the power to completely transform business performance. In terms of stock value, businesses centered around a digital platform, outperformed businesses organized around traditional models by 65%.

Our intuitive assumption often leads us to believe that B2C platforms are financial juggernauts with revenue potential significantly higher than B2B platforms. That assumption is wrong. By the end of this year, Forbes suggests that B2B eCommerce will be twice as large as B2C eCommerce and will be the primary driver of eCommerce growth between 2020 and 2025. And according to London-based payments research and consulting firm iBe TSD Ltd., B2B online marketplaces will account for about 30% of all worldwide online B2B sales by 2024.

Significantly improved customer satisfaction:

Simply put, the more digital the customer journey, the higher the customer satisfaction. In fact, McKinsey & Co. have found that a fully digitized customer experience can increase customer satisfaction by as much as 33%, whilst lowering operating costs between 25 -35%.

B2B Organizations are quickly understanding that B2B customers are everyday consumers too – they don’t have split personalities i.e. one at work and one at home. The implication is that they expect the same ease and convenience of researching, engaging and transacting in the B2B space as if they were making purchases on platforms like Amazon.

Utilizing data held in existing ERP systems, B2B organizations can use data to customize platforms and deliver additional information to the customer, helping them make better buying decisions.

A shift in buyer demographics:

According to a report from Merit, 73% of buyers within the B2B space are from the millennial cohort. Their buying experiences have been heavily informed by purchasing expectations in the B2C space. Millennials are likely to be more than 50% through the buying process before they consider contacting you. That’s if they even contact you at all. They expect B2B customer platforms to include B2C staples such as high levels of customization, targeted promotions, clear pricing, advance search, simplified logins and optimized check-outs. Digital presence is key when appealing to millennials.

Digitization enhances employee productivity:

Increasingly, businesses are moving towards consumption-based hybrid cloud ecosystems. At the same time, CIOs are expected to drive the customer experience – from the point of first contact, to fulfillment to after-sales support. This most often entails digitizing products and services, which in turn brings a step change in productivity by helping employees to focus more of their time on value added work, whilst managing exceptions in intelligent and automated systems.

Final thoughts:

B2B Customers expect a digital experience on par with their B2C interactions. More than ever, it’s important to evaluate whether your customer experience delivers. Can it handle a modern customer’s expectations, or do you perhaps need to find a solution that simplifies the customer journey through a fully digitized customer experience?

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