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By Phil Murphy

B2B2C The ambidextrous opportunity in Ecommerce

On 13, Jun 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Strategy | By Phil Murphy

Ambidextrous is defined as the ability to use the left and right hands equally. In an organisational context an ambidextrous model can be used for driving sustainable innovation within a mature business. The B2B market is currently undergoing an identity crisis and some innovators are becoming ambidextrous and protecting their businesses through exploring a B2B2C model.It is a model adopted by Nespresso, Red Bull, Nestle and Intel.

What is B2B2C Ecommerce?

B2B2C stands for ‘business-to-business-to-consumer’. It is an emerging business strategy where a B2B business also markets to consumers directly.

As a B2B business, operating in the FMCG, healthcare or technology sectors you no doubt have recognised just how accessible and lucrative the B2B2C market could be for you. Ecommerce platform maturity and emerging technologies now mean that traditional B2B organisations can reach, add value, sell to and build relationships with what was their customer’s customer. This presents as both an exciting and daunting potential for such businesses. With change, comes caution and apprehension – none more so than in this instance. No B2B wants to damage established relationships with customers or be seen to overtly ‘step on toes’. That said, it has to be recognised that business dynamics are ever changing and as such brands need to be agile in response. More than ever, it is critical for brands to operate flexible thinking and adjust based on what makes sense for their brand. At the end of the day, the market is the market is the market – where the attention is and what is happening in the market should ultimately dictate your approach. Romanticism about the past or simply doing what you have always done, because it has worked until now, will without doubt lead to your brand’s’ downfall.

What is the value of B2BC Ecommerce for B2B businesses?
Valuable Data Mining Opportunities:
Data is king. Complementing your sales model with a B2B2C channel delivers valuable data around buying behaviour and opportunities for personalisation enabling you to know your customers

Retail Shelf Space Challenges:
The fight for share of shelf space is challenging and brands with wide SKU ranges can’t always guarantee listings, B2BC Ecommerce can help fill this void.

Increased Competitiveness:
Doing business is tough, and getting tougher in an ever complex customer controlled retail scene. Competitive forces from online marketplaces and pure play own branded online retailers are emerging. You need to hustle hard for your brand, distributors will promote your brand but they have other products in their portfolio. You need to go to war for your brands, fight hard and hustle. Brands that hustle hard and are agile will win.

Greater Control of the Customer Experience:
Traditionally, business relationships were all built on a one to one basis – between a business and its consumers. Social Media has re-enabled and brought this one to one relationship back to the fore. Through social channels we, as consumers, can talk to and deal directly with a brand. A single poor experience with a product can damage a brand very badly. Having the ability to deal with an issue as it may arise and control the relationship with the consumer means if something does go wrong you can fix it quickly.

Lets f$cking do this you say but…. B2B2C needs careful consideration:
A B2B2C online sales channel can appear as a competitor to your distribution channel. It is important to communicate with your distributors about the collective benefits of this model and why it is needed to compete in the market today. In fact it is simply an additional sales pipeline, your newest sales guy, whereby you can ensure your brand is present online in paid search, google shopping ads, and that your brand’s share of voice online is guaranteed. Having this brand visibility will ensure additional sales in store and in your distributors online channels due to a significantly extended brand recall. It’s a win-win!

Not a replacement but a complement:
B2B2C should act as a complement to your existing B2B model. It will help brands align to an ever complex omni-channel consumer. Consumers don’t care where they buy and will often purchase through an irregular mixed mode buying model.

Implementation of a B2B2C model requires talented marketers, IT professionals and an aligned sales and account management group who can deliver the strategy and partner the distributor channel to communication the collective benefits of this approach. on a full acquisition, retention and upsell strategy, so make sure you have an ‘A’ team in place.

If you are a B2B business, considering a B2B2C function or considering introducing this, I would be very interested to hear from you and your thoughts on the matter.

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