B2B must become more like B2C, says DHL report

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Business to business customers are increasingly expecting an agile, scalable B2C-like experience, according to a new report by DHL Express and Cranfield University.

DHL expands Airfreight Plus network to Russia and CIS regionCross-border B2B transactions are expected to reach US $1.2 trillion within the next five years, but B2B transactions differ from B2C in fundamental ways that necessitate a different approach, says the study entitled: The next industrial revolution – how e-commerce is transforming B2B.

“Adapting certain website features and functionalities, such as product catalogues and live customer support, and better integrating front- and backend systems and end-to-end logistics processes are crucial for B2B companies seeking to provide this customer experience.”

“In the course of our research, we identified three archetypes of companies that are involved in e-commerce, from ‘novice’ to ‘intermediate’ to true ‘innovators’,” said Professor Michael Bourlakis, chair in logistics & supply chain management at Cranfield University.

“Novices, for example, have just begun to dip their toes in the water when it comes to e-commerce and have basic functionality on their websites. Innovators, on the other hand, have sophisticated offerings and employ advanced technologies – such as machine learning and virtual reality – to better anticipate customer requirements and offer personalized experiences. With this framework, businesses can see how they compare to other companies that are developing an e-commerce offering and gain insights into improving their own e-commerce efforts.”

The study identifies five categories of features that are essential to B2B e-commerce platforms: digital infrastructure, customer experience, customer personalisation, seamless integration and synchronisation of logistics.

“We have seen B2C e-commerce grow at a faster pace than most other industry sectors in recent years, with premium cross-border shipments growing from 10 per cent to more than 20 per cent of the volumes of DHL Express,” said Ken Allen, chief executive of DHL Express. “As this study shows, there is the same potential for cross-border B2B e-commerce to grow at a dynamic pace, and the DHL Express network will be an enabler of that for businesses around the world.”

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