Consumers and business buyers alike are placing new pressures on merchants and their supply chains. The rise in omnichannel B2B and B2C eCommerce has, for some companies, created a disconnect in the product content viewed by buyers and a lack in product information management across sales channels means money lost.
According to new data from 1WorldSync, almost half of surveyed merchants and suppliers have lost at least $1 million because of this challenge of omnichannel sales — and more than a tenth have lost at least $3 million.
The company released its new survey of 400 merchants and suppliers across Europe and the U.S., which identified how these companies are struggling to adequately manage the B2B and B2C sales process in an omnichannel world, earlier this month. A key struggle is the consistency of product information across sales channels, the report said, and it can lead to missed sales opportunities, incorrect products purchased, refunds and an overall negative buyer-supplier relationship.
It’s not the first time analysts have pointed to the challenge that omnichannel B2B eCommerce can bring. Earlier this year a report from CloudCraze similarly pointed to an experience gap, finding that most B2B sellers “fail to integrate customer data with commerce technology and experience a gap between what they’re able to offer and what today’s business buyer demands.”
But buyer-facing sellers aren’t the only companies at stake here: Suppliers across the supply chain are similarly losing out on funds because of their inability to handle an omnichannel sales scape, explains Nick Manzo, global omnichannel lead at 1WorldSync.
“The group in the supply chain that’s caught the most off-guard, probably, has been the supply chain,” he recently told PYMNTS. Especially as the sales process grows internationally, as well as across platforms including in storefronts, online, via mobile device and through social media platforms, suppliers are challenged to provide a streamlined, consistent process to their buyers — especially when it comes to product content and providing that information to clients, 1WorldSync found.
“Those challenges are extremely acute for the supplier community,” added Manzo. “They’re still trying to figure out what their organizational infrastructure looks like that will help them support, maintain and manage that content demand on an ongoing basis.”
According to Manzo, the B2B sales and eCommerce world gets especially overlooked when it comes to this problem. Interestingly, he added, companies are aware that this is an issue — and have been investing in fixing it, just not in the right ways, he said.
“Organizations are spending enormous amounts of capital and resources, shoehorning solutions in place and doing work manually themselves,” he explained. “I would say Excel is still the predominant means of information share today in an online connected eCommerce environment. And what they’re figuring out is, after five years of throwing individuals and resources and Excel to solve these problems, it’s not a sustainable, scalable business process.”
The issue is starting to get noticed at the executive level, though. In a way, the challenge of B2B info sharing in an omnichannel sales ecosystem comes down to integrating the right information management systems, cloud-based tools that can manage product information across different sales channels. Nearly all of the B2B suppliers surveyed by 1WorldSync that were considered to be “market leaders” used this type of technology, “which simplifies the online sales process and enhances supply chain efficiency,” the company said. The vast majority, too, depend on a third-party service provider for this service.
But half of the companies surveyed said they don’t use a third-party content provider — and 80 percent of them aren’t able to integrate product management across web, mobile, application and physical stores, they told surveyors. More than half of merchants can’t even support sales via mobile device.
So as corporate and consumer buyers are turning to mobile and other digital sales channels, the companies that can’t support that buying experience are losing out big time. For those that can, inaccurate or incomplete product information across these channels will inevitably mean more big losses.
Manzo emphasized the need not only for a third-party service provider, but for suppliers and merchants to utilize the business community as partners to enhance connectivity between each other.
“The reality is there needs to be a reliance on partners that can help guide organizations through these scenarios, that can be trusted and have a broad breadth of experience as they move forward,” he said. “Because I think the key here is that there are opportunities that industry suppliers, brands, categories, channels can take from other ares that can help them leverage and solve these problems at the domestic, regional, market-specific and global levels.”