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3 Key Topics from B2B Online Chicago 2024

From insights to action

As a proud sponsor of this year’s B2B Online in Chicago, TMG had the opportunity to connect with leaders in the manufacturing and distribution industries as well as share our own e-commerce and customer experience insights as a panel speaker. 

With 92% of manufacturers and distributors recognizing B2B e-commerce as a catalyst for business growth, but 62% expressing the need to upgrade their current commerce infrastructure — it’s clear that a significant discrepancy exists between the potential of digital touchpoints and the ability to fully leverage them.

Taking center stage in many of this year’s discussions was the evolving expectations of B2B customers and the integral part B2C e-commerce and digital experience strategies play in bridging these gaps. To help you harness the strategies you took away from B2B Online and provide the means to effectively execute them, we put together a few key insights that have consistently driven success for our clients. 

We’ll start by breaking down the steps for building a compelling business case and earning executive buy-in for your next project. Next, we’ll discuss how you can work towards a long-term goal, while also achieving short term gains along the way. And lastly, we’ll explore important factors to consider before diving into any B2C tactics, ensuring they align with your business as well as your customers. 

Securing the Green Light

You likely walked away from B2B Online with a number of ideas and strategies you’re eager to adopt for your own business. But, before you can start using generative AI tools or make any major changes to your e-commerce strategy, you need to gain
executive buy-in

Strategically evaluate how your idea can provide value not just to your department or team, but the entire business as a whole. Executives will be more likely to support your idea (and fund it)  if you can demonstrate how it can improve metrics like efficiency, speed to market, customer sentiment, or sales. For those in the manufacturing or distribution industries, supply chain efficiency, order accuracy, and customer retention rates are other relevant metrics worth looking into. Afterwards, build a compelling business case for your idea, linking your initiative to clear, measurable outcomes that will move the needle for your company. Need a hand developing your business case? TMG strategists can assist with the process, taking your project from concept to reality. 

Balancing Long-Term Goals with Short-Term Gains

Implementing your new digital initiative won’t happen overnight. To achieve the best results, it realistically should be an ongoing journey with frequent stops to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. 

At TMG, we use the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to identify and work toward a long-term plan while also achieving short-term gains for our clients. This strategic approach allows businesses to remain nimble within the dynamic and fast-paced world of B2B. 

The agile methodology’s emphasis on continuous delivery and improvement offers a competitive edge by enabling adaptability and scalability to meet changing market demands and customer expectations. Our approach empowers teams to conduct continuous discovery, embrace test-and-learn patterns, and develop Minimum Viable Products, or MVPs. 

An MVP is the simplest version of a product or new major feature that’s used to validate customer needs and inform future development. MVPs are especially valuable when adopting B2C strategies; by coupling them with direct user research, your product can evolve to meet actual user needs and behaviors. This approach not only speeds up time to market, but can also significantly reduce risks by testing assumptions early in the design and development cycle. 

Adjusting B2C Strategies for B2B Success

As we continue to see a push for B2B companies to leverage B2C strategies, it’s critical to recognize that success looks different from B2C to B2B. Implementing B2C tactics requires careful consideration into the complexities of the B2B buying process. For example, B2C often focuses on quick conversions and removing friction, and while those are great tenets to bring into the B2B realm, the reality is that fulfillment and payment work at a very different scale. 

As the CEO of TMG, Pat Bonuso explains, ‘We specialize in B2B because it’s inherently more complex than B2C, presenting the kind of challenges we excel at solving. In B2B, you’re dealing with businesses as buyers, not just individuals. Their purchasing decisions are influenced by factors beyond trends or status. Understanding the nuances between different sales platforms, like marketplaces versus dealer portals, is crucial because a business may need to engage with both.”

Before jumping on the B2C bandwagon, you need to adjust B2C strategies to the unique demands of the B2B buyer. The experience is the foundation for this. Creating a series of digital experiences that mimic and follow known patterns from the B2C world can help bring in buyers whose expectations shifted within the last decade. Beyond the pure digital experience, this also means improving your business operations to provide shorter delivery times and adapting your commerce platform to offer more delivery options.

Another popular topic of discussion at B2B Online was the power of personalization. Again, successful personalization in B2B occurs in different moments compared to B2C. One personalization method that is seeing a lot of success is personalized site search results. In fact, in a recent survey, 58% of B2B sellers listed this as one of the personalization tactics that is working the best. This approach to personalization enables buyers to discover the right products faster, leading to a more seamless buying process and increases in customer satisfaction. Despite this success, nearly half of manufacturers and distributors do not have a personalization strategy in the works. This split represents a significant missed opportunity, but by investing in personalization that aligns with your buyers’ needs – and developing an information architecture that ensures clean, consistent data – you can avoid losing ground to competitors.  

Utilizing direct user research and analytics can help strengthen your understanding of your customers, equipping you with the data-backed decisions you need to successfully adjust any B2C strategy to better fit their needs.

Taking Your Strategies Forward

This year’s B2B Online highlights the continuing shift of B2B companies turning to B2C strategies to elevate their e-commerce and digital experience efforts. As businesses continue to navigate this change, start building the case for your digital initiative with a focus on securing executive buy-in. Consider adopting an Agile methodology for delivery to ensure your project is achieving immediate results, while working towards long-term success. And last, but certainly not least, take the time and research to adapt B2C tactics to the B2B buyer. 

Don’t let your insights from B2B Online sit idle. Whether you’re planning your next digital initiative or looking to refine your existing strategies, our team is here to guide your journey, ensuring it’s both strategic and impactful. Schedule a meeting with one of our certified SAFe® experts today.

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Cameron Beltran
Cameron Beltran
May 16, 20246 minute read
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