B2B buyers are doing a lot of purchasing online these days — about $1.6 trillion annually according to projections by Digital Commerce 360. Are buyers happy with these transactions?  A survey of digital buyers from 150 companies finds that 97% of online buyers experience some pain point during the eCommerce purchasing process. And 94% of B2B buyers agree their company prefers to work with suppliers that continuously evolve their digital capabilities. Be sure you are paying attention to more than just the online sales figure. What are your actual customer outcomes?

Be Customer-Centric

I have been reading a lot on the topic of online purchasing that supports the findings above. The impersonal nature of online selling and its related pain points represent an opportunity for the independent distributor who knows his customers. As the post-pandemic business model moves toward more digital commerce, the distributor must become even more customer-centric.

Customer Experience

In a recent post, business innovation expert Mark Dancer explains that distributors often say that they are becoming customer experience (CX) companies. He defines CX as how customers interact with brands, products, and services. CX business models gaze inward. They are designed to optimize the processes under which the supplier operates to serve its customers.

Customer Outcomes

Customer outcomes (CO), on the other hand, measure customer satisfaction with the purchasing process. Good customer outcomes ensure that the supply chain prospers only if customers prosper. According to Dancer, the future of distribution is the relentless pursuit of CO, not CX.

Dancer finds most leaders say they’re customer-centric, but if everything they measure is CX, how could that be true? Revenue, growth, and other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measure how customers perform for the company. Organizations that wish to be customer-centric —and maximize growth—must also measure how the company is performing for its customers (CO).

Be Effective

Finally, distributors need to become a flexible resource that enables ever-better business results and innovations in the customer’s business.  To do so, evolve your digital capabilities. As Dancer suggests, these should yield better customer outcomes. The right ERP, CRM, and AI-driven customer analytics can provide customer-centric support.  And Lastly, Partner with your customers to build more effective KPIs for customer outcomes and eliminate their online purchasing pain.

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