Q&A: Steve Martinez, vice president, digital solutions at chemical distributor Univar Solutions, shares his insights on trends in B2B ecommerce.

As vice president of digital solutions at chemical distributor Univar Solutions, Steve Martinez takes a lead role in helping Univar’s ongoing improvement of its strong presence in B2B ecommerce. Martinez, who discussed trends in B2B ecommerce at the Aug. 12 online event hosted by Digital Commerce 360, “Fast-Tracking B2B Ecommerce Sales and Expansion,” shares more of his insights here on what it takes to succeed in digital commerce. Univar recently reported a 58% increase in the number of orders placed through UnivarSolutions.com.

Selling chemicals online requires a shift in paradigm and new customer-centric approaches.

Steve Martinez

DC360: What is driving B2B companies like Univar Solutions to expand online?  

Martinez: Customer preferences, expectations, and requirements have changed as a result of COVID-19.  The pandemic changed the way we interact with our customers to be more digital by necessity.  A customer-centric focus has allowed us to identify opportunities to serve our customers more effectively and win new business through online channels.

DC360: What are your biggest internal or and external barriers? 

Martinez: The chemical industry has generally been slow to embrace ecommerce historically and because of the nature of the products that are sold. Selling chemicals online requires a shift in paradigm and new customer-centric approaches. We’ve had to change how we think about serving our customers for the online channel to focus on convenience, speed, and simplicity.

DC360: What are the chief gains you’re realizing? 

Martinez: Creating an effortless experience for our customers increases stickiness and loyalty. We’ve recently publicly reported 58% growth of orders in our UnivarSolutions.com digital channel.


DC360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them?

Martinez: Move quickly to create value for the customer. An effortless experience creates customer loyalty; focus on creating solutions and processes that make it easier for customers to choose your business.

DC360: Regarding COVID-19, what is the biggest adaption your company has made?

Martinez: Acceleration! Our 3-year roadmap became a 12-month roadmap. To accelerate delivery, we focused on reducing our scope and scaling our deployments to enable quick testing and delivery. This approach allowed us to learn from our customers and adapt based on market needs.

DC360: What existing trends will the pandemic accelerate?

Martinez: Rapid deployment, customer-first thinking, and transparency.

DC360: What new ideas will become trends? 

Martinez: The online model promotes information availability. Companies that can provide the right information at the right time and without barriers will win.


DC360: What post-pandemic needs will become opportunities? 

Martinez: Online will not replace the need for human interaction. Now more than ever, customers will favor integrated experiences that understand customer needs through the buying journey and across touchpoints. B2B companies will need to show customers that “we know and understand you, and we are ready to help” in every interface with the customer.

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact editor Paul Demery at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pdemery.

Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new Digital Commerce 360 B2B News content is published.