What B2B companies can learn from B2C buyers

I recently took my son, a recent college graduate, shopping for “business casual” job interview attire at our local mall. It was an exhausting experience. The shirts I selected (that were ideal, by the way) were, in my son’s opinion, too blue, too plaid or too tech-bro. Finally, I Googled “job interview shirts for male millennials” and found this brand, and my son approved. We ordered a couple of shirts, a jacket and some pants right from my iPhone. The items were shipped for free and arrived in a few days.

We were, as the saying goes, delighted.

Digital transformation is forcing companies to change their business models and adapt to the new market reality, and customers like me and my discerning son are driving that change.

Whether external customers, or internal employees, people are embracing digital practices in many facets of their lives, from shopping online via their mobile devices to adjusting their home thermostat remotely. They are expecting that businesses will catch up. And they are, according to The IDC research “FutureScape: Worldwide Digital Transformation 2018 Predictions”.

“By the end of 2019, digital transformation (DX) spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide, a 42 percent increase from 2017.”

The customer-centric strategies applied by Amazon and Google and my new favorite brand, Bonobos, are also changing business-to-business relationships.  Here are a few examples of how these companies are changing their business model and putting customer experience at the heart of their strategy.

  1. Automotive pioneer Ford developed FordPass to bring customers innovative mobility services. FordPass encompasses a smartphone app with general mobility services plus additional owner-to-car services. FordPass covers services such as parking, ride sharing, car sharing, and multimodal transportation planning. Pretty progressive for a 113-year-old company.
  2. Monsanto, now branded, for good reason as a Modern Agriculture Company, is transforming itself with an online platform from a supplier of seed and crop-protection products to a productivity partner, providing advice on subjects ranging from product selection to sowing and harvest timing. “We connect combines in the field, so we can collect real-time information on how they are performing on the farm,” says Monsanto CIO Jim Swanson, “We use analytics and data to get better insights into the performance of our products, as well as sustainable agricultural practices.”
  3. JetBlue Airways Corporation identifies itself as a customer service company that happens to fly planes. Their core strategy is to eliminate any transactions that don’t add value to their customers.  Fly-Fi, JetBlue’s inflight Wi-Fi, helps better serve customers and facilitate the crew’s productivity. Using iPad Minis, flight attendants can access the seat map as well as the personal information about every passenger, be it their type of loyalty membership or their birthday. They can also see if a passenger has a connecting flight and suggest alternative options in case of delays. In-flight purchases support Apple Pay. Their Apple Watch app, features mobile boarding pass, real-time flight updates, and enables in-flight purchases with Apple Pay.

But back to the B2B buyer…

According to a study by BCG, more than three-quarters of today’s B2B buyer is less likely to deal with a salesperson until it is time to close the deal. Instead, these buyers rely on digital resources—such as suppliers’ and third-party websites, videos, buyer reviews, blogs, and social media..kind of like that harried mother at the shopping mall. And they increasingly use mobile phones to get that information, particularly through search and social media.

In this new digital landscape, B2B companies need to adjust accordingly. Need help with that? Let Menlo Technologies take care of you.