4 Ways Digitization & Automation Help B2B Suppliers Reduce CostsJuly 2, 2020
As per data published by Statista, the global B2B industry reached the $12 trillion mark in 20191. This makes the industry larger than the GDP of several developed economies put together.
As the global supply chain integrates, companies focusing on the B2B market will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go online and digitize their business with a B2B ecommerce platform. But, doing so will require much more than just a website where you have your catalogues listed. You have to truly deliver a comprehensively digital experience. That would mean – you need an integrated platform that connects your backend processes to the frontend procedures.
When you digitize your business processes’ functions, you will also notice that several operational decisions that take up the time of your company’s human capital have rule-based solutions. Using this insight, you can easily automate a large portion of your business processes.
Why should you do all or any of this? B2B ecommerce and digitization is like a double-edged sword – you can grow your revenues and cut down your overheads, with one move.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Sell More and Sell Fast
With the conventional B2B sales process, you are running the same funnel – cold-call, prospect, convert and go on. You have finite sales associates, and they have a finite time in their schedule on any given day. In that proposition, it is nearly impossible to grow your sales without incurring significant CAPEX.
After you launch a B2B ecommerce store, you will see the cost per acquisition, conversion, and incremental sales go down dramatically. This is because now you have the sales associates focusing only on the big-ticket clients who genuinely need help navigating the sales process.
Based on a well-engineered and integrated ecommerce platform, every other prospect can explore your catalogue, get an idea on the potential discount on bulk purchases, and even get a tentative delivery date.
Your sales associates can help you design the right workflow processes to ensure every prospect gets targeted with the right information, as soon as she takes a particular action on your platform. The knowledge that your sales team already possesses can be integrated with your platform’s design, and just like that – you have integrated offline and online assets.
Plus, unlike the finite person-hours between your sales associates, your website can be running 24 x 7 x 365. All of this put together gives you an edge over your competition because now you can sell more, and sell it all quickly.
2. Automate Supply Chain Processes
Sourcing and supplying become a headache the moment you start scaling. There are invoices to be approved and signed, there are payments to be chased, and there are documents in different formats to be shared across the business. Despite being in the trading business, which is meant to be a capital-light business model, many businesses end up spending more capital in executing their supply chain processes.
Right from placing the order with automated landing costs calculated, choosing the right freight partners, and even raising the automated invoices with the right GST calculated on each order – automated supply chain processes can simplify the work you do daily. Not just this, since it shrinks the processing time for each function, you get to do the same level of business with lesser resources.
The best part about automating your supply chain processes is that their effects amplify as you scale them. Going from 10x to 100x becomes inexpensive, even when you are making more on each sale.
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3. Make Fewer Errors with Automation
Many businesses have been running automated business processes for a while. With the right platforms like QES, you can take care of any possible systemic errors you have in the system.
Take, for instance – communication. As a business, you must be sending out hundreds, if not thousands of messages. These messages are both inbound and outbound, meaning some are used for prospecting, and some are simply used to respond to queries. Have to ever tried to calculate what the efficacy of your communication system is?
A wrong price quoted to a prospect can lead to loss of hundreds of thousands in margins. With automated processes, each of these functions will be executed using the rules you have added to the system.
The reality is that most proprietors and business operators do not get a chance to get a granular understanding of such processes and their impact on the bottom line. By automating these processes on your B2B ecommerce platform, you can easily eradicate the possible errors in your business functions.
4. Get Strategic Insights from Analytics
We have all been hearing that data is the fuel for growth. But how do you harness it? You can harness it only if your B2B ecommerce and digitization efforts have been integrated.
Getting an ecommerce platform that gives you surface-level data is good, but not unique. All your competitors are gathering the same data from their platform. What you are looking for is granular data on each business process. You want automated report generation, data visualization, and process-level data that can help you unravel the bottlenecks in your processes and give you insights on future strategy.
Take, for instance – logistics. If you have been running your logistics and have the cost per order available, you can run scenarios and test whether outsourcing your logistics will be more profitable or not. Similarly, you can get instant data and trends that show which product lines are performing better than others. With some deliberate analysis, you can easily understand the cause behind them. For instance – if you can see the visual trend that there is a cyclicality in some product category, you can set your inventories accordingly and avoid having dead stock.
Your B2B ecommerce platform has to do much more than serving as a digital catalogue for your products. It has to be an integrated platform that helps you deliver your goods & services efficiently, systematically, and at scale while giving you insights into future growth avenues.