Omnichannel in industrial B2B is the ‘new normal’, study finds
The common belief is that industrial companies lag behind their B2C counterparts in digital capabilities, while their customers still have the same expectations. But the latest findings from Epicor’s annual outlook survey firmly correct that misconception and demonstrate that businesses of all sizes are competing in new ways, and the good news is that it’s working.
A change of strategy
The seismic shifts of the past two years have disrupted industries, and companies of all sizes are adopting innovative supply chains, entering previously inaccessible markets, and competing in new ways.
This wave of change ushers in newfound confidence and a priority for business growth. 56% of all survey respondents prioritize growth – and the outlook is most optimistic for distributors, 63%, and retailers, 59%.
The pandemic has had a strong influence on the recent evolution of large companies, and SMEs have also risen to the challenge; three-quarters (78%) of respondents (exclusively in manufacturing, distribution, building materials, automotive and retail) shared that they had changed their business models from basis over the past year to be more competitive. 44% said they added new strategies:
- Direct-to-customer sales and deliveries (47%)
- E-commerce via online ordering (40%)
- Solutions Configure-Price-Quote (39%)
But the story of disruption isn’t just about what they’ve added, but also about streamlining and streamlining business initiatives, with 34% citing evaluating their approach and abandoning certain strategies. As a result of all this change, 85% bragged that they experienced growth by diversifying their offerings.
The rise of “distro-manufacturing”
Given the choice of in-person, remote, and e-commerce channels, shoppers are showing they want them all. More than half (56%) of distributors in the survey said they have started offering direct-to-customer sales, signifying the emergence of a new breed of hybrid business called “distributors”.
Naturally, digital transformation was cited as key to diversifying services. 86% say they have changed their technologies to accommodate their expanded capabilities. Specifically, 85% have chosen to diversify their supply chain and 84% have diversified into e-commerce. As a result, the majority (54%) are confident their business is on the right track and almost all respondents (95%) believe that the right technology will accelerate growth.
This means that technology solution providers must be prepared to adapt to these growing needs and provide businesses with solutions tailored to meet them – a claim that is supported by the report’s findings: while 95% cited a appropriate technology to accelerate growth, 92% want to partner with vendors who have “specialized industry knowledge”.
The survey data underscores that companies have no intention of standing still. Midsize companies looking to be competitive are constantly evaluating their business strategies, adjusting them to expand their offerings, and relying on highly flexible cloud-based technologies to drive agility and performance. While it can be tempting to act quickly for fear of being left behind, careful planning, the right integration partner, and a solid implementation strategy will win out.
PSB conducted an online survey of 1,350 IT decision makers in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, all operating exclusively in manufacturing, distribution, building materials, automotive and retail. The interviews were conducted in English from April 1 to 22, 2022. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.76 points, and larger for the subgroups.
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