Digital transformation and tech advancements have radically changed the nature of business and customer relationships. With each disruption, the expectations and habits of consumers seep deeper into the business-to-business (B2B) world. This shift is known as the evolution of B2B to B2C. And, it recently got a pandemic-sized push.

What’s Behind the B2B to B2C Shift?

B2B buyers have another persona – they are shoppers who are accustomed to digital experiences in their day-to-day lives. As a result, B2B buyers increasingly think and act more like B2C consumers. Their expectations for personalization and product information extend upstream, causing new challenges for manufacturers and distributors. Companies that fail to provide comparable experiences are quickly losing competitive ground.

Why is it Accelerating?

Most recently, the fallout from COVID-19 has caused significant disruption for B2B enterprises. Extreme demand for certain products (like cleaning supplies and household goods) collided with quarantined shoppers and supply chain issues. The resulting ‘perfect storm’ has elevated opportunities – and challenges – to adapt and meet B2B and consumer needs.

Take #toiletpapergate, for example. When quarantine mandates hit the U.S., a massive toilet paper shortage quickly ensued, leaving consumers baffled and upset. Yet the answer to the shortage had more to do with logistics than supply because bulk toilet paper is typically sold to businesses and schools. Pivoting from this B2B model to selling directly-to-consumers is easier said than done. Complexities around product data, packaging requirements, pallets, and shipments mount up for manufacturers and distributors regardless of what the product is. Generally, B2B companies lack the data quality and commerce tools they need to quickly pivot when trends or needs arise.

How Can Enterprises Adapt?

We see two primary trends emerging when it comes to the B2B to B2C shift:

#1: B2B companies going direct to the consumer, or DTC.

As channels evolve, B2B companies can foster relationships with the end-customer and sell directly to them – whether it’s through online marketplaces, catalogs, or dropshipping. They can also leverage direct interaction with consumers to boost brand recognition and loyalty.

#2: B2B companies operating with B2C values in mind.

In the B2B space, customer interaction is becoming less about transactions and more about convenient, digital experiences. For example, B2B buyers instinctively desire the same level of product information they get when researching a consumer product online. The importance of omnichannel experiences continues to grow, even in the B2B realm.

High-Quality Data is a Must

To remain competitive, B2B enterprises must start acting more like B2C’s. This requires compelling product content, high-quality data, seamless syndication, and improved collaboration. Companies can achieve these goals with platforms for Product Information Management (PIM) or Multi-Domain Master Data Management (MDM).

A PIM platform helps B2B companies create a central hub of trusted product data and compelling content – including detailed descriptions, photos, videos, and supporting information like reviews, manuals, and upsell/cross-sell recommendations. Leveraging PIM also helps B2B’s provide omnichannel experiences and compete with DTC.

In addition to Product Data, companies can also reap significant benefits from centrally managing enterprise-wide data on Customers, Suppliers, Locations, and more. This can be accomplished with a Multi-Domain MDM platform.

Multi-Domain MDM provides the added benefit of cross-domain intelligence, i.e., connecting the domain dots and managing data in context. You can read more about that phenomenon in our recent article here.

Tech Alone is Not Enough

To make the B2B to B2C shift, companies must master the complexities around content procurement, enrichment, and collaboration. The right PIM or MDM platform is critical to this process. Yet, at Amplifi, we know that technology alone is not enough.

People, Process, and Technology are critical success factors in the B2B to B2C shift. Manufacturers and distributors must consider:

  • Change management and training: Going B2C is a big shift in mindset and affects all aspects of your business – training is essential to a successful transition.
  • Setting up syndication: B2C requires marketplace and channel participation – how are you setting up the attributes, descriptions, and specs for each channel and its requirements?
  • Data quality and governance programs: What type of data quality standards will you establish, what guardrails will you have in place, and how will you equip content managers and data stewards for success?
  • Deficiencies in your tech stack: Going DTC requires a different commerce toolset – do you know where you have gaps? What are the best ways to fill the gaps while still ensuring a quick time to value?

When facing these complexities, many B2B companies feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to begin. At Amplifi, we know it helps to take a business-first mindset. We’ll never get tunnel vision when it comes to your requirements. Instead, we work proactively to understand your challenges, evaluate how those challenges affect your data and connect those dots to deliver a solution that addresses the big picture of your business goals. Ready to Shift?

When it comes to B2B to B2C, the question isn’t whether it will take hold of your business, but rather when and how. Amplifi helps clients assess their current infrastructure, give our recommendations on how to move forward, and implement the people, process, and technology needed to successfully make the shift.

To learn more about being agile in MDM/PIM, listen to our webinar or reach out to our team.

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