15.04.2020

HOW THE CORONA CRISIS AFFECTS THE B2B TRADE

In the Corona crisis, entrepreneurs are faced with a whole range of important issues: from the health of their employees to possible disruptions in the supply chain, from shaken customer confidence to business continuity. Some challenges will be overcome in a few months, but the long-term effects will outweigh the benefits. What long-term effects can B2B companies expect?

E-commerce is more important than ever

Although sales representatives will continue to play a role in the future, B2B companies can no longer avoid optimizing their e-commerce channels and increasingly rely on digital marketing. While some are well prepared and have made the necessary investments, the majority of companies are now getting the cold shoulder. Many have either put off investing or have avoided e-commerce for other reasons. In B2B, it is – apart from simple inertia – mainly legacy systems, complex integration requirements and huge product catalogues that hinder the corresponding innovations.

Customers demand fast and efficient processes

The same applies to purchasing decision-makers as to other people today: we often spend more time with our smartphones than with our laptops, employees or relatives. Companies have to adjust to the fact that B2B customers also want to do business with their suppliers quickly and efficiently by digital means. Since face-to-face meetings are difficult, if not impossible, in the current situation, this will further accelerate the development towards online trading.

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Online-Shops nutzen die Chance und bauen ihre Marktanteile aus. Quelle: iStock/ThomasVogel

Amazon and Co. seize their opportunity

Especially now that many employees are working from home, online giants like Amazon are taking the opportunity to expand their market share in B2B as well. Corporate customers are less strict with their usual procurement guidelines in this exceptional situation. This gives a head start to those suppliers who handle the purchasing for the customer in the fastest, most convenient and reliable way. That is why it is vital for B2B companies to operate effective digital trade channels and thus secure their own market share.

Marketing communication as well as sales must be designed for the B2B2E relationship. (Source: iStock / Olivier Le Moal)

Adapting the corporate strategy

In the current circumstances, adaptability is required. For example, B2B companies should respond to the fact that many of their customers are working from their homes. Marketing communication and sales must be oriented not to the B2B, as is usually the case, but to the B2B2E (business-to-business-to-employee) relationship. In this context, it can also be useful to develop new product lines, business models and customer loyalty strategies in which online channels and e-commerce play a central role.

Innovative digital experiences pay off

Restrictions on travel and exit could continue for some time. As a result, the implementation of digital technologies is moving up the corporate agenda. Some of these technologies may have a greater impact on the B2B market than on the consumer market. These include augmented reality (AR) and visual product search.

Companies should be aware that winners and losers will emerge from today’s crisis. Those who manage to adapt quickly and integrate digital channels into their core business now have a good chance of being among the winners.

Quelle Titelbild: iStock / artisteer