Chapter 5: Deepen business relationships.

Strong B2B relationships will help retailers weather uncertainty.

With economic headwinds creating uncertainty for customers, retailers must focus on nurturing new and existing relationships with partners. Delivering excellent service experiences is essential — after all, 84% of business buyers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services — but that can’t happen without flawless execution upstream. That’s why more and more retailers are breaking down their walled gardens and leaning into the burgeoning ecosystem economy.

Provide transparency and drive agility.

Right now, 70% of retailers and 58% of suppliers cite limited data transparency as the biggest barrier to collaboration. Set yourself apart by actively sharing information with partners on your supply chain. When you adopt a single source of truth, you can minimize out-of-stocks and build more accurate demand forecasts. You can also deliver customer demographics and store-level sales information, giving suppliers valuable insights.

Modern order management capabilities enable you to connect back-end systems with order data. You can visually manage workflows and maximize the supply chain with inventory APIs that give a real-time view of your inventory. Orders are processed quickly with automated fulfillment, payment capture, and invoice creation. That’s the kind of transparency that drives smarter decision-making, customer loyalty, and revenue.

Deliver a consumer-grade buying experience.

B2B companies turned to virtual channels to communicate in 2020 and haven’t looked back. Today, modern operations increasingly mean collaborating with partners over secure digital channels with teams from sales, service, marketing, commerce, and finance. It also means serving B2B customers on a wide range of devices and channels, similar to what they experience in their personal lives.
“We partner with everyone from mom-and-pop stores to regional chains and national retailers. What’s cool about our commerce platform is that we can focus on self-service ordering while also utilizing different features and functionality to target those diverse B2B buyers.”
– Kathleen Hachmeyer, Director of Technological Innovation, FILA

Promote sustainability across your value chain.

Not only do 93% of global consumers expect the brands they buy to support social and environmental issues, buyers are under pressure to do business with organizations that have committed to sustainability principles. Today, that means more than greenwashed marketing messages. Instead, sustainability must be an initiative owned by the enterprise and data-driven, with visibility and accountability across the entire ecosystem.

Sustainability is more than brand differentiation; it’s about brand survival. Show buyers your business has considered the environmental and social impacts of your operations and supply chain. Avoid greenwashing: Instead, stay transparent about data. Use carbon accounting to calculate the progress you’ve made on your change journey for internal and external stakeholders.

Take the next step on your 2022 holiday planning journey.

The only thing that’s changing faster than consumer preferences is the economy. As retailers look to efficiency and automation to drive profitability and prepare for spikes in demand, they need to be ready for anything.

The challenge? Creating a winning holiday strategy takes more than introducing curbside pickup or posting on Instagram. This year, success means a robust first-party data strategy, a seamless customer experience across physical and digital channels, and associates who are empowered to serve customers efficiently. In short, retailers must prioritize flexibility and convenience like never before. And that means putting the customer at the center of every decision they make.


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