In meeting buyers’ changing expectations, the biggest challenge B2B companies face is internal: the organizational shift needed to drive change, says Kevin Yapp, senior vice president for digital transformation at global electronics distributor Avnet Inc., who will speak at B2B Next, to be held Sept. 24-26 in Chicago.
Yapp will discuss why becoming a digital-first company requires rethinking every aspect of an organization. In an interview with B2BecNews, he shares how Avnet, a global distributor of electronic components and embedded systems, is building a best-in-class omnichannel buyer experience heavily enabled by digital.
Q: What is motivating B2B companies like Avnet to expand online?
Yapp: Increasingly, our customers expect to be able to self-serve online. As millennials progress their careers and get decision-making authority in bigger organizations, they simply expect to use digital channels, so we need to be there with an experience that delights. That means we must deeply understand pain points in complex B2B transactions and find ways to remove them.
In the electronics category, it’s also about some major market dynamics. With the rapid evolution of the maker movement [individuals or groups who create and market products with unused or discarded digital components and other materials] the next big thing is as likely to come from a maker in their garage as it is from a big corporation, so we need to be there. Digital gives us that reach.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges?
Yapp: In many ways the technology is the easy bit. The biggest challenges are behind the scenes. Processes that have evolved over decades aren’t necessarily right to drive a commerce site; all the weaknesses are immediately exposed direct to customers. And absolutely the biggest challenge is people. Taking a huge traditional business online means major organizational change and a lot of work to energize and engage across all functions.
Q: What are the biggest gains you’re realizing?
Yapp: We’re obviously seeing efficiency and the ability to scale our reach. Interestingly, we also see margin enhancement as customers buy ‘add-on’ products that they wouldn’t through traditional channels. Then of course we are gaining great, data-based customer insights.
Q: What is the biggest thing B2B companies still need to realize about e-commerce?
Yapp: That it’s not about websites. It’s about the proposition behind the site and a deep understanding of complex customer journeys across all sales channels.
Q: What is your most valuable piece of advice for B2B companies looking to launch online sales or increase them?
Yapp: Stand in your customers’ shoes. Use your own sites and get your senior teams to do so, too, to get deep into the functionality that your customers use. It drives buy-in, engagement, and uncovers the reality of how good the experience is.
Q: Have you seen how following this advice—or not following it—can affect B2B e-commerce?
Yapp: Multiple times! Customer research, demos, site analytics, etc., all obviously have their place in building online sales, but stand in your customers’ shoes and I guarantee you’ll still get “aha” moments every time.
- 38 Sessions
- 44 Speakers
- 28 Exhibitors
- 9 Networking Events
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