Many U.S. manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers have experienced and managed a crisis or two in their time.
Both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sellers have seen production slowdowns, strikes, recessions, depressions and natural disasters, to name a few.
In ecommerce, many web merchants and other online sellers have lived through the dot-com crash of 2000-2002 and the Great Recession of 2008. B2B digital sellers have also wrestled with tough internal challenges, such as overcoming numerous obstacles and skeptics inside the organization to build and sustain an ecommerce program. And many faced down their long-time distributors, wholesalers and retailers to bypass the middleman and sell online directly to businesses and consumers.
Changes to B2B and B2C ecommerce
But the latest crisis testing the ecommerce mettle of B2C and B2B ecommerce website operators is the coronavirus, the fast-spreading and long-lasting pandemic that’s brought national economies to a standstill, forced all or big parts of entire societies indoors, and threatens to overwhelm local, regional and national health systems, according to data and analysis published in Coronavirus: Ecommerce Crisis Management for Today and Tomorrow, a new and free-to-download report from Digital Commerce 360.
The end result is that the current pandemic is bending but not breaking ecommerce. The effect of the coronavirus on ecommerce is also highly uneven. In business-to-consumer ecommerce, the coronavirus has closed down many stores and malls and shifted even more shopping online, including for groceries, prepared food and other items necessary for daily life.
The coronavirus resulted in a surge in web sales for such merchandise categories as groceries, while at the same time bringing online orders to a trickle in segments that depend on discretionary consumer spending, such as for luxury goods and jewelry.
‘It’s a war out there’
In B2B ecommerce, the coronavirus is changing—perhaps fundamentally—the way the B2B ecommerce market is doing business, according to the in Coronavirus: Ecommerce Crisis Management for Today and Tomorrow report.
From supply chain and inventory management to customer service, fulfillment and delivery, the sudden and ongoing impact of c
“It’s a war out there,” says Vic Hanna, the CEO of BettyMills.com, an online medical supplies superstore that sells primarily to B2B customers in healthcare. But manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and other online sellers aren’t being caught entirely off guard.
In fact, many B2B ecommerce sellers are making solid plans and implementing new technology, marketing and other procedures to immediately manage the short-term effects of the coronavirus.
Widening the gap between winners and losers
There also are hard-won lessons learned from the current pandemic that ecommerce companies of all sizes are using to seek out new online business opportunities and build post-coronavirus technology, business, marketing and operations strategies and programs that will work more effectively and efficiently for the long haul.
But there will be winners and losers. “This crisis is widening the digital divide among those who made earlier investments in ecommerce and those that didn’t,” says Brian Beck, a managing partner of Enceiba, an agency that helps manufacturers and brands sell through Amazon.com and Amazon Business. “Some of those that didn’t won’t survive.”
The in Coronavirus: Ecommerce Crisis Management for Today and Tomorrow report presents data, insight and usable takeaway best practice advice that B2C and B2B companies can use now and going forward to count themselves in the winner’s circle.
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