Consumer Goods and the Great B2B Digital Acceleration
What 500 consumer goods leaders have to say about digital transformation in the B2B route to market.
Digital investments streamline account management
Retail and field execution goes virtual
Flexibility, transparency, and responsiveness of the retail distribution network was critical in getting valuable merchandise to stores in the face of erratic demand. Field representatives still made in-person store visits, but they did so at a greatly reduced pace as CG companies worked to keep frontline workers safe. At the same time, retailers minimized unnecessary in-person contact to protect shoppers so field reps had limited time in-store for merchandising.
To maintain engagement from afar, CG companies introduced remote store visits. Field reps checked shelf-compliance and conducted merchandising activities remotely, while retailers were able to interact directly with reps to get what they needed to support shoppers.
Now, CG companies are embracing remote work for the long term and pivoting away from traditional field operations. Forty-four percent of CG leaders are looking to adopt more remote-based retail and field execution technologies in the next 3–5 years.
This includes real-time shelf-monitoring (40%), the Internet of Things (IoT) for merchandising audits (39%), and object and facial detection (37%) to support tasks like shelf audits and planogram compliance.
Investments in B2B digital commerce heat up
It should be no surprise that as B2B commerce becomes a more important engagement channel, B2B marketing is also bubbling up as a spending priority. Targeting buyers with direct marketing and increased trade spend, including promotions, was also a priority along with new product introductions.
In the great B2B digital acceleration of 2020, CG leaders have invested in critical areas in order to stay agile and relevant through the black swan event of the pandemic. Results from the survey indicate that digitization of the supply chain, field execution, and customer service was a key indicator of success in 2020 — and will continue to be a priority for leaders in the near future. As CG leaders start to think about where to invest next, one thing holds true: The relationship between the brand and channel partners must be at the center of everything.