Following a year full of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a wave of digital transformation swept across the business landscape. And for many businesses, this was a forced digital transformation necessary for survival. Faced with unprecedented challenges, many companies had no choice to implement new digital strategies whether or not they perceived themselves as ready. 

There was a recognized shift in how leaders had to view digital transformation as well. These decisions needed to move past the traditional cycle of IT approving a new technology every few years. Moving forward, B2B leaders need to be thoughtful about the types of technology they choose and how it can support overall business goals. 

It looks like the changes that began in 2020 are here to stay. Businesses are continuing to expand their e-commerce initiatives as customers fully understand the value and ease of online ordering. 

Here are 3 ways to embrace forced digital transformation:

1. Digital self-service

There are two sides to digital self-service when it comes to B2B e-commerce. On the more obvious side, is the importance to digitally transform the customer experience. The post-pandemic B2B consumer is what the B2C industry has been practicing for years - easy to use, modern interfaces built with the consumer in mind. It’s no secret that the B2B businesses that are quickly adopting and implementing B2C like user experiences are gaining market share and finding success. 

On the other hand is supplier self-services. The rise of online marketplaces has brought suppliers into their own digital transformation. Supplier self-service is becoming vital to those B2B businesses looking to streamline their supply chain and improve efficiencies. Adding a supplier portal to an e-commerce application that allows suppliers to manage their own product catalogs, order fulfillment and access customer data. Not only does this improve the supplier experience, but it takes the administrative ownership off of the B2B business saving value time and money. 

2. Content management

Historically, B2B user experiences have been somewhat of an afterthought. But, in the new digital transformation era, that will no longer cut it. In 2020, B2B business realized that B2B buyers not only cared about the user experience but were willing to walk away when they didn’t receive one that was up to today’s standards. In 2021, B2B businesses can use content management as an e-commerce differentiator and gain the advantage over competitors. 

Moving forward, B2B businesses should use content as a way to reach new customers and educate and engage with current customers. B2B buyers are more tech savvy than ever, and as remote work became commonplace in 2020, many realized that they could indeed shop around even in the B2B space. So, in 2021, B2B businesses should work toward driving and delivering their product offerings through a clear content program with the features necessary for a customer to make purchasing decisions. This strategy can help reduce cart abandonment and increase cross sell and upsell opportunities. 

3. Omnimarket strategies

In the post pandemic-era, B2B buyers are more empowered than ever. Between these evolving customer demands and a business landscape that is continuously changing, B2B business must be strategic with their go-to-market strategies. Future-looking businesses will use technology to extend and expand their presence into new markets. 

With modern technologies such as headless, API-first e-commerce, a business can easily scale their order taking capabilities to meet new customers where they are. Some businesses might extend e-commerce to direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels in order to take advantage of third party (3P) revenue growth potential. Others may connect to existing marketplaces to capture a new revenue stream. Either way, B2B businesses that have faced forced digital transformation, should be looking to establish an omnimarket strategy to maximize the profitability of the supply chain.

The changes to the e-commerce landscape that began in 2020 are here to stay. Future-looking businesses will realize that technology is the key differentiating factor for the businesses that succeed. 

Check out "The ultimate guide to replatforming for today's B2B ecommerce leader" for tips on how you might rethink your approach.