The distribution industry is on the cusp of big changes related to demand for customer self-service order entry. In 2022, two-thirds of B2B buyers opted for digital self-service or remote human interactions over traditional phone or email ordering.
McKinsey says, “Customers want an always-on, personalized, omnichannel experience. The world’s best sellers are giving it to them.” What this means for distributors on legacy ordering platforms is simple: Modernize or lose business.
DIY Distribution Ordering: How Did We Get Here?
Even before the pandemic, B2B customer preferences were changing. Today, B2B selling is anything but linear and the word “omnichannel” is as ubiquitous in the industry as the acronym for artificial intelligence. Now, our B2B buyers demand a B2B experience: seamless, personalized and easy.
Distribution is changing, along with technology and customer demands. The real question is whether distributors and legacy order management software (OMS) platforms are keeping pace.
Even before COVID, in 2015, McKinsey had the foresight to predict the revenue potential for companies willing to upgrade their technologies to adapt to these trends:
- Up to 20% increase in customer leads
- 10% growth in first-time buyers
- 20% increase in process efficiencies
Interestingly, we’ve found just by introducing order automation, the process efficiencies and revenue increases are even higher today:
- 15% increase in sales
- 25% increase in customer satisfaction
- 50% reduction in manual order processing
- 40% increase in order speed
But so much of what distributors’ customers want goes beyond backend automation. What they really want is a B2C Amazon-like experience, with easy one-click ordering and a simple, modern user interface – adapted for business needs. Legacy platforms can limit distributors’ abilities to meet the latest demands for an omnichannel customer experience.
A recent McKinsey survey from 2023 looked closely at how B2B customers want to interact with the software you use. They found:
B2B customers spend more during ecommerce interactions. McKinsey says, “The sales growth opportunity may now outweigh related potential costs.” Today, 70% of B2B decision-makers say they’ll spend up to $500,000 on a single ecommerce transaction. The trend is clear; a good online ordering experience is worth the technology upgrade.
Market-leading companies invest in personalization similar to what we see in B2C transactions. They also have increasingly sophisticated analytics on customer behaviors to improve upselling and the uniqueness of touchless online interactions.
Gartner says 80% of B2B customer interactions will occur online by 2025. This statistic demands a hard look at the technologies our customers interact with.
The time is now for distribution companies to modernize their front-end order entry tools. Distributors that fail in these DIY digital transformations risk falling behind.
Fortunately, new technology promises the experience distributors’ customers demand. For distributors on SAP, this innovation can meet our target audiences’ evolving requirements while improving organization efficiency and increasing sales.
Introducing the DataXStream OMS+Portal
With these trends, distributors need to upgrade from legacy OMS platforms and shift how they sell. With the recent data on B2B online DIY preferences, prioritizing the usability of these critical customer interfaces becomes an important requirement for modernizing these technologies. The bad news is that upgrading a critical system such as an ERP, ecommerce, or OMS platform is also critically expensive—in an industry where margins are slim, change is hard.
These are the challenges DataXStream solves with OMS+Portal, a self-service feature that lets your customers take control of their order-related tasks. Designed with the same user-friendly, seamless experience as our award-winning OMS+ platform, OMS+Portal embeds cleanly within legacy SAP platforms. OMS+Portal is all about facilitating the end-user experience for your customers.
OMS+Portal Features and Benefits for Distributors:
- No SAP upgrade needed and no ERP downtime
- White-label customization to extend your branding to customers
- Clear, clean, easy-to-read product data
- Real-time inventory integration
- Automated for faster billing and fulfillment
- Eliminates manual order entry tasks for distributors and customers
- Easy one-click user interfaces
- Fulfills customer demand for DIY
- Amazon-like experience customers enjoy using
- Cloud-based for easy deployment and better security
- Customers can create orders, check order status, upload POs, review credit availability, and much more on an intuitive system that requires little to no training
- Reduces manual order entry mistakes
- Lightens the call and email volume for CSRs
OMS+Portal Features and Benefits for Distributor Customers:
- Real-time product availability online
- The ability to order online 24/7/365
- Self-populating query fields make product searches simple
- Easy reordering experience via a Buy Again button
- Completely configurable to customer needs
- Creates delivery documents automatically
- Easy line of sight on order fulfillment
- Upload a PO and the order populates automatically
- Easy to increase or decrease order quantities on an open order—and all backend systems automatically update
- Automated emails ping customers with a link to the order page where they can see order fulfillment status in real-time
- Icon and cart functionality similar to Amazon
OMS+Portal offers SAP customers a risk-free way to modernize their online customer experience. It is an extension of OMS+ and delivers the same consistent experience.
But how does this new application fulfill the demands of an increasingly consumeristic B2B target audience?
Giving Customers What They Want
We know that customers want more omnichannel options, not less. This is according to the latest McKinsey research of B2B customers around the globe. The consulting firm surveyed nearly 3,500 decision-makers in 12 markets, releasing data showing all B2B customers prefer omnichannel options.
The survey also showed customers are more willing than ever to switch suppliers to improve these purchasing experiences. Businesses that adapted to these trends by selling more across every channel (not just online) were more likely to gain market share.
Thanks to McKinsey, we now know most B2B customers want all five of these in combination:
- The ability to receive a full refund (a performance guarantee)
- Real-time product availability online
- Ability to purchase from any channel
- Real-time/always on customer service
- A consistent experience across channels
OMS+Portal is the answer to fulfilling customer wants and needs in distribution. It offers SAP users an alternative to a costly, time-consuming full upgrade, offering B2B ordering functionality as pleasurable as shopping at Amazon on your day off. Contact our team today to see OMS+Portal in action.