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The business-to-business (B2B) trading landscape in the manufacturing and distribution industries has gone through drastic changes in recent years, particularly in the wake of the ACOVID-19 pandemic when streamlined digital experiences became the new normal. A study conducted by Forrester Research revealed that the growth of B2B e-commerce is only headed upward, with an approximately 10.7 per cent annual rate from 2022-2027, compared to only 0.5 per cent for offline B2B sales. With drastic transformations taking over industries, manufacturers and distributors have been rethinking their strategies and technology investments in order to stay ahead. Here are the key aspects leaders in the B2B landscape are employing in response to new industry dynamics.Establishing a customer-centric approach According to Adobe’s 2023 B2B Commerce Growth Strategies Survey, business leaders are now placing greater focus on customer experience. Now equipped with lessons and experience gained from 2021 to 2022, 63 per cent of respondents said they now place website customisation high in their priority list, providing better personalisation of content and customising options for each site visitor. This figure is closely followed by 62 per cent who have shifted their focus to investing more in their e-commerce sites and 57 per cent who plan to add more products available on their online channels. New channels for new marketsAn e-commerce site gives a company the capability to enter geographic markets and new industries. This makes rethinking sales channels one of the most crucial strategic imperatives for operating in a post-pandemic industry landscape. Larger companies view e-commerce as a new way to eliminate the middleman, like distributors and retailers, and boost profit margins by capturing the commissions charged by resellers. In the survey, 62 per cent overall and more than two-thirds of larger firms said they are looking into launching a B2B e-commerce portal for distributor clients. Meanwhile, 58 per cent are looking into rolling out new e-commerce websites in new markets and regions. Using data towards personalisation Ed Kennedy, a digital strategist for manufacturers and distributors at Adobe Inc., said companies in general underestimate the value of customer data on their e-commerce sites. “B2B e-commerce websites are a treasure trove of data for marketing, sales and operations that most businesses aren’t fully utilizing,” Kennedy said. Personalisation begins with a deep understanding of the B2B buyer’s journey. Mapping this out helps identify critical touchpoints where personalisation can make the most significant impact. Integrating sales reps into the digital teamThe pandemic inevitably made it harder for sales representatives to reach out to customers, hindering them from introducing new products or offering training on how to use them. Today, many sales reps see e-commerce sites as a threat to their jobs. However, that should not be the case, according to Justin Racine, director of commerce consulting at Perficient. A B2B site is intended to automate routine tasks, such as enabling the customer to reorder products or check the status of delivery, and it should also enable the buyer and the rep to build orders together and then send them to the buyer’s boss for approval, Racine said. This way, a company can free up sales reps from routine tasks so they can focus on finding new customers and generating additional revenue. As the world of B2B e-commerce continues evolving, manufacturing companies are driven towards upgrading their strategies in order to stay ahead. By embracing these initiatives and their own unique innovative solutions, organisations can continue to improve their operations, explore new markets, and enhance customer service. To read more about the 2023 B2B Commerce Growth Strategies Survey, visit business.adobe.com.