4 Steps to Set Up & Grow a B2B eCommerce Channel

4 Steps to Set Up & Grow a B2B eCommerce Channel

We are always nosing around the digitalisation approaches of CPG’s big baddies and looking for growth trends. The latest report from Economic Times on Unilever’s growth focus gives a bang for our buck (Coz we’ve been talking about it for so long!). The Surf Excel and Dove soap maker will invest 1 Billion Euros in 2021 and 2022 in high-growth areas, including business-to-business eCommerce retailing! That’s B2B eCommerce Marketplace for you.

As a fast-growing CPG brand, have you already started building your B2B eCommerce channel? If not, what are you waiting for?

As 2020 showed us so brutally, the route to growth for CPG is B2B eCommerce. So how do you deploy one quickly and effectively? Here’s a blueprint for setting up and growing your B2B eCommerce Marketplace.

Objectives of Your B2B eCommerce Marketplace

Before you embark on the journey, it is critical to define this new sales channel’s objectives into your portfolio. Here’s a sample set of objectives from one of our top customers.

Objective #1 – Visibility: Increase visibility in unorganised channels, including on-trade and traditional trade customers.

Objective #2 – Reach: Acquire new outlets without increasing manpower.

Objective #3 – Customer engagement: Improve customer engagement and relationships.

Objective #4 – Penetration: Increase weighted distribution in key metros.

Objective #5 – Data-driven operations: Optimise sales and supply chain operations through 100% performance visibility.

The objective setting is a precursor to your B2B eCommerce implementation process. It is a four-step digitisation lifecycle that begins with identifying your customers to scaling the retail execution.

STEP #01 – IDENTIFY: Identifying the right regions, channels and customers to drive the biggest bang for your buck.

As critical as it is to act fast to bring about the change in current times, it is equally important to target the right customers to drive maximum ROI. We have helped our customers through our geospatial analytics platform to identify the correct targets. It’s a two-part process.

Customer Identification: Understand customer potential by analysing their outlet data, past orders, promotional impact, complaints and more. Assess the share of wallet that your category enjoys at these outlets and the value of the locality by analysing the gro-spatial data to 200 metres of your customer’s location.

Distribution Planning: Based on your target list of customers, regions, channels etc., add distribution partners to plug any gaps that may exist. Develop a trade promotion plan to drive adoption and increase sales through this channel.

STEP #02 – ONBOARD: Engage these customers and help them to adopt your new tech. It is a function of (Incentives and Services) 

Incentives: Incentivising your customers to adopt this channel.

Service: Provide excellent service by establishing a “Just in time” supply chain.

Once you have defined the target set of customers/regions/cities that you want to transform, the next phase is to onboard them onto the platform. This phase is about getting them to install your tech and start ordering and encouraging your sales teams and distributors to establish new working ways.

Onboarding Focus Area: 

  • Motivate your sales team to drive adoption by demonstrating how the new tech can drive the organisational goals. 
  • Create and execute awareness and promotional campaigns for your distributors and retailers. 
  • Encourage your sales team to engage your target customers through F2F meetings and phone calls. 
  • Drive the adoption through evangelisation teams, online training content and WhatsApp communications. 
  • Ensure 100% fulfilment of orders that come through the B2B eCommerce platform.

Brand Actions: 

  • Make awareness phone calls through the salesman who usually services the distributors and retailers.
  • Send awareness communication through your official WhatsApp channel.
  • Organise webinars for your sales teams and channel partners. Demo the new platform and its benefits.
  • Train channel partners on how to use the new B2B eCommerce platform.
  • Send welcome and order notifications through WhatsApp or other messaging platforms.
  • Enable trade incentives for the first order, focus products and more.

STEP #03 – NURTURE: Nurture the customers by providing continuous offers and insights that can help them grow their businesses by implementing the right pricing, product, placement and promotional strategy.

Loyalty: Build customer loyalty through loyalty programmes, trade schemes and incentives.

Demand Generation: Invest in demand generation activities, including BTL/consumer digital marketing/ad banners etc. Use gamification among retailers to motivate them to generate more orders for your products.

Execution: Continue to focus on maximum fill rates, build processes to communicate with distributors on orders, allow retailers to speak to distributors through the platform, get retailers to provide ratings to distributors for better service. Such approaches will help build the right behaviours in your teams and your partner teams to establish a “Just in time” supply chain.

STEP #04 – SCALE: Scale customer digitisation by building a multi-touch retail execution model across your business – Channels, Regions, Product categories and Customer.

It is critical to learn from the execution in the first region/city and stabilise the processes internally and with distributors. With established change management processes, you can now take the channel wider – more regions, more categories and more channel partners. Some of the actions that you would need to take include:

  • Scaling through channel partners
  • Partner with synergistic brands
  • Logistics partnerships: Bridge the distribution gaps with tech logistic providers.
  • Track, measure, and improve: Build an integrated performance management framework that monitors traditional sales and distribution KPIs with online engagement KPIs. Leverage this to drive improvements across:

Trade promotion RoI: Measure incremental sales, profitability by promotion etc.

Improved retailer engagement: Monitor KPIs such as CTRs, time spent on the platform, % abandoned baskets etc.

Optimise replenishment: Introduce ARS (Auto Replenishment System) for the retailer and distributor through 100% real-time visibility.

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