The alumni operation of Vlerick Business School, organized last week a presentation on how to be successful in a B2B environment by using an e-commerce strategy. An exciting evening with 3 keynote speakers, who wanted to give inspiration on the following questions:
- How do I structure my company and its processes for a B2B e-commerce strategy?
- Which subprocesses do I outsource or do I do myself?
- How do I distinguish myself from my competitors and how do I communicate more effectively to the needs of today’s customers?
The importance of a good strategy
The first keynote speaker was Bart De Waele, CEO of Wijs. From their expertise as digital agencies, he gave more insights into how online business works. Everything starts with understanding your customer well and making your product or service a unique story. This will distinguish you from your competitor.
Soon we came to the importance of strategy. After all, the right strategy ensures that you match your product or service in your own way to your “unique” customer and in that way you can meet his or her needs as much as possible. Does this sound too consumer oriented?
Being consumer oriented today is certainly becoming more and more relevant to be successful in a B2B environment. After all, you don’t only distinguish yourself with a product or service. The experience, or rather: the way in which you add value in the eyes of your customer, is crucial to being and remaining successful. The better you, as a BtoB player, understand what the end customer wants from your product or service, the better you can attune your story to your BtoB customer, who can therefore serve the end customer better.
To outsource or not?
The second keynote speaker were we. Before we gave an answer to the question “Do I outsource or not?“, we first had to take a step back in our way of thinking. After all, you can only answer this question if you have thought about it first:
- To what extent are my processes digitized?
- Is my logistics service a core activity or not?
The answer to the first question, after all, determines whether the logistics service can outsource. Outsourcing logistics without sacrificing your own unique operation is only possible if this unique operation has been digitized. This way, you can retain your identity even if you outsource.
After all, the second question determines whether outsourcing your logistics is opportune. We are evolving more and more towards a world where companies need to be flexible in order to be able to keep up with changes in the market without losing their added value in the eyes of their customers. If logistics is not a core value, then outsourcing is often the next step in achieving greater customer satisfaction.
If you have a clear view on both questions, you can look for a partner. When choosing the right e-fulfilment partner, always take this into account:
- The costs: try to align this as flexibly as possible with the order volume.
- The extent to which your partner understands your strategy. The better he understands, the greater the chance that he will also add customer satisfaction.
- The ability of your partner to change with you if your processes or market change.
- The degree to which they are transparent and communicate clearly. This is often underestimated, but clear communication also means a well-informed customer.
Digitization as a “Winning Strategy”
Finally, it was the turn of Nick Boucart, who, from his role as Technology Advisor and Software Engineer at Sirris, came to give insight into how to tackle digitization and how this will ensure that in the future you will have a crucial advantage over companies that are lagging behind.
A story that fitted in seamlessly with the previous two speakers and it soon became clear that:
- Not digitizing is a huge loss, because then you can add much less value for your customer.
- Digitizing in itself is quite a bit of preparatory work and goes beyond pure marketing or logistics.
- Setting up the right digital approach is often much more difficult to imagine than it actually is.
In short, not digitizing is no longer a choice, surround yourself with people who can give you a clear picture of the way to digitization. You will notice that it is often much simpler than you initially had in mind. Especially because the benefits it brings are much greater than the costs.
Did the evening provide a unanimous answer to the first three questions? Probably not! We do hope that it did provide enough food for thought. With a lot of energy we went back to Genk! Did we get you thinking?