Redefining the B2B Customer Experience: The Future of Retail and AI

December 01, 2020 by Stefanini
B2B buyers are on the lookout for AI-supported tools that can lead them to the best buying options. See how SAP and AI can support modern retail efforts.

Business-to-business (B2B) providers in retail need to stay aligned with changes in the purchasing process by increasing the customer centricity of their marketing and selling methods. However, the nature of purchasing is changing enough that traditional marketing and selling methods are no longer sustainable. At the same time, B2B buyers are increasingly looking for proficient, AI-enabled tools to help them hone in on the best buying options. In other words, you can forget the traditional, handholding sales process. In fact, Gartner found that B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time with providers’ sales representatives when they’re considering a purchase.

And if they’re considering multiple suppliers? Even less time than that.

So, how should B2B firms prepare for the constantly shifting future? Read on for the answer.

Challenges Faced by B2B Firms

Getting Marginalized

Purchasers are now totally dependent on AI tools and information platforms when choosing the best buying experience. On the other side of the spectrum, suppliers are being challenged to differentiate themselves through these sorts of tools by helping customers reduce decision complexity or even design better or complementary intelligent platforms.

There is an increase in awareness among customers about the connection between their buying choices, and their corporate and personal values and goals. Providers have to provide intelligent customer experiences, which provides greater levels of transparency in the buyer supply chain and allows them to align their buying decisions with their corporate principles.

Complex Buying Experience

Even with all of the information and tools at purchasers’ disposal, they still struggle. More than three-quarters of buyers surveyed by Gartner said that their last B2B purchase was too complex or difficult. To remedy this issue, providers can differentiate themselves from others by helping organizations reduce complexity while integrating a digital assistant into the buying process, which offers opportunities for emotional satisfaction and career achievement.

Redefining the B2B Digital Customer Experience

B2B Companies Adaptation with SAP as the Digital Core

Embrace AI Intermediaries

B2B buyers are embracing AI intermediaries to analyze data about goods and services, compare, evaluate and select suppliers, and complete complex transactions without human intervention. Where buyer decision-making and purchasing are becoming more and more complex, AI intermediaries can decrease the burden of overwhelmed purchasers and potentially further enable their independence from suppliers.

To reduce uncertainty and increase the pace and depth of information transfer, procurement technology enterprises have started creating cognitive procurement advisors (CPAs) and virtual personal assistants (VPAs), which use natural-language processing, along with intelligent ML algorithms, to answer questions or recommend suppliers based on requirements and historic data.

VPAs aim to handle complex operations, like comparing suppliers and carrying out transactions based on the analysis of past operations and results, current requirements, and predicted needs. A procurement CPA can provide summaries, recommendations, and advice on everything from supplier assessments and performance management to risk management and compliance.

Customers Turn Out to be Contributors

With advanced analytics, AI, and new production technologies, customers can now become co-creators of innovation. These capabilities can help increase development speed, allow for smaller, less risky trials, and enable new products to scale better. Companies are creating open platforms where customers can participate in all aspects of the experience, both actively (contributing knowledge, expertise, and effort) and passively (giving providers access to data).

Perhaps the easiest path to creating value from customer contributions is to analyze the data from their operations. For instance, Danish company Mobile Industrial Robots collects data about its autonomous robots that are operating in the industrial warehouses of some of the world’s largest manufacturers, analyzes that data, and uses it to improve not only the robots, but also customer operations.

Rather than developing finished products in isolation and selling them to businesses, B2B companies consider themselves to be platforms for innovation and iteration, enabling customers to contribute in meaningful ways to a joint value proposition.

B2B Companies Adaptation with SAP as the Digital Core

Enable Products with AI

As many traditional customer touch points become automated, there will be less human interaction in creating a brand perception or buyer experience. Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and machine learning can connect to goods and services along with SAP Customer Experience solutions like Sales, Marketing and Service Cloud to improve the customer experience.

Enhance Human-to-Human Touchpoints

AI-based tools can complement human interactions. For instance, machine learning can feed SAP Sales Cloud applications insights about buyer habits into algorithms that predict and recommend order preferences and quantities.

Value Creation from Customer Passive Participation

Customers are often fine with turning over their data when they get something of value. An aerospace firm once said that it collected data from its aircraft engine customers for more than a decade by using SAP Customer Data Solution; it also uses ML/DL complex algorithms to analyze billions of data points per flight to provide an equipment health management service that detects 97 percent of issues automatically. The company reports that this service has reduced flight disruption due to engine malfunctions by 40 percent and saved its customers 100,000 tons of fuel (enough to fly a 747 to the moon and back 13 times).

A Real-World Story

A consumer products enterprise took its sales to a whole new level with SAP Enhanced Customer Experience Solutions. An online B2B shop and applications for warehouse fields’ staff reinforced this enterprise as a leading global company.

Before: Challenges & Opportunities

·       Implement digital transformation successfully

·       Increase business growth through more effective sales

·       Take customer care to a new level

·       Obtain end-to-end insights into customer data

·       Analyze customer data constantly and utilize the findings instantly

Implementation: SAP Sales Cloud with Artificial Intelligence

·       Sales Cloud solution can be flexibly adapted to changing market requirements

·       VPA and CPA integration capabilities with SAP Sales Cloud facilitate future innovations

·       Implementing embedded ML applications with VPA integrations optimize sales-visit planning

After: Value-Driven Results

·       Consolidated product and service information in a single system

·       Launched a new online shop that perfectly matched real customer demands

·        Increased revenue through demand-based cross- and upselling

·        Increased revenue through analyzing customer data and offering exactly the right product or service

·        360-degree transparent view of every customer

Stefanini’s Solutions

Technology is drastically transforming the retail landscape and shifting the focus from selling products to offering personalized experiences. Digital Retail requires an omni-channel approach focused on the customer experience. Our Digital Retail Services allow you to embrace disruption, transforming business models to keep up with our dynamic digital world. Using our intelligent automation, gain insights into supply chain and inventory management. And with our unique integration of AI support into SAP, you’ll be able to delivery personalized experiences to your customers.

What are you waiting for? Connect with us today!

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