Sponsored content is created on behalf of and in collaboration with Phase Zero by DigitalCommerce360. Our editorial staff is not involved in the creation of the sponsored content.

B2B companies have experienced a sea change in what’s required to meet the expectations of B2B buyers. Changing demographics and consumer expectations coupled with technology advancements have forced manufacturers and distributors to adopt a new approach to serving their customers — or risk getting swallowed up by the competition.

Ram ChandraSekar, CEO of PhaseZero, talked to Digital Commerce 360 B2B about the industry-specific technology and digital-forward mindset manufacturers and distributors need to embrace to deliver the customer centric shopping experience today’s B2B buyer’s demand.

How does B2B ecommerce look different compared to a few years ago?
It’s no longer just about B2B businesses being able to sell products online anymore. The focus now should be on the customer experience — how easy a manufacturers or distributor’s ecommerce site is to use to research products and to place and manage complex B2B orders. They don’t want to call a sales representative — they want the convenience of doing everything themselves, with 24/7 access. Customers want instant and real-time tracking and inventory visibility. They want to know if a product is in stock and, if not, when it will become available. They want to know when, where and how their orders will be delivered, and they also want to know how easy it is to make a return and claim a warranty.

Manufacturers and distributors must transition their mindsets from an ecommerce transactional focus to building a digital business around delivering and continuously improving the customer experience. How successfully a company executes this transformation will determine their sustainable competitive advantage.

How can manufacturers and distributors differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market?
It’s important to understand that technology alone is not the differentiator. With Amazon Web Services and others like it, anyone can easily and affordably access the technology. The differentiator is how a company leverages that technology. And it can do that by bringing in its own specific industry knowledge and making it work within its environment.

Commerce solutions need to be built with industry domain expertise. They need to be configurable and specific to the business requirements. These solutions need to be easily upgradable without locking the company into inflexible technology that eventually becomes legacy.

How can B2B companies find the right mix of digital technology and strategies for their unique business?
Manufacturing and distributing companies really have three options when it comes to choosing their technology.

  1. There are the large enterprise software providers that rely on systems integrators and third-party implementors with industry domain expertise to customize, integrate and support.
  2. There is the pure-play software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies that may provide modern composable commerce technologies with no industry focus and rely on third-party implementors for industry domain expertise to customize, integrate and support.
  3. Then there are the industry-specific, vertical-focused SaaS ecommerce solution platform providers, such as PhaseZero, with pre-built integrations to ERP, catalog and other business systems. The solution framework and technology are built specifically for manufacturers and distributors with industry best practices and configurable to business specific needs.

How can they decide what is the best approach for their business?
Manufacturers and distributors need a SaaS ecommerce platform and solution provider that is committed to their business and industry and brings sophisticated technology that’s purpose-built for that industry. They should ask themselves: Do I want a technology toolkit or a platform that is built for my industry and configurable to my unique business?

According to leading strategy leaders, many digital transformations fail during execution when a company chooses a large enterprise company’s technology because it isn’t built for their industry, and those providers don’t bring the strategy that drives the transformation forward.

Can you provide an example of a company that saw success using a platform that was purpose-built for its industry?
Dana, a supplier of fully integrated drivetrain and electrified propulsion systems, wanted to improve its global aftermarket customer experiences. To create the seamless experience, Dana leveraged the PhaseZero CxCommerce cloud platform to integrate multiple catalog, inventory and order systems. They also consolidated multiple regional sites into one single global platform for governance, branding, security, and compliance. This resulted in Dana reducing its risk and vulnerability. It was able to deliver a consistent digital experience to customers around the world. It lowered the company’s total costs.

With their global aftermarket business supported by the PhaseZero CxCommerce solution, Dana has significantly improved the digital customer experiences for its original equipment manufacturers, distributors and employees globally. More than 10,000 registered users access SEO-optimized content with more than 800,000 parts integrated from multiple parts catalogs. Users seamlessly navigate global inventory and order systems, track real-time delivery status and benefit from real-time headless commerce integrations. It’s a win for Dana and a win for its customers and employees.

What must manufacturers and distributors do to implement a more customer-focused platform?
Progress, not perfection, is key to any successful digital transformation. Manufacturers and distributors should:

  • Shift from thinking of their digital transformation as a project with a starting and stopping point to one that revolves around continuous improvement along the transformation journey.
  • Look for solutions built for their industry. The solutions should be configurable to enable their unique business advantages, while also designed to lower their total cost of operations.
  • Partner with SaaS providers like PhaseZero that are committed to their entire transformation journey — not just an ecommerce SaaS provider, but a trusted advisor with a strategy framework and domain expertise to accelerate the successful transition to a digital business.

PhaseZero delivers generative AI solutions built for the manufacturing and distributing industry with configurability specific to a company’s business needs to enable sustainable competitive advantages in weeks. The PhaseZero CxCommerce platform lets companies converge customer experiences — B2B, B2C and business-to-employee ecommerce — in one SaaS platform. It delivers a modern, unified customer experience across different end-user roles, geographies and product lines.

And most importantly, PhaseZero helps manufacturers and distributors learn and adopt industry best practices and mitigate the risks of becoming a digital business quickly.