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B2B e-Commerce: Pivoting manufacturers, distributors for digital advantage


Most recent trends analyses show the B2B e-Commerce business segment is growing and expanding significantly. Research and advisory firm Forrester projects B2B e-Commerce global market value to reach US$25.65 trillion by 2028.

In Nigeria, B2B e-Commerce platforms are creating and expanding opportunities for the manufacturing sector and distributive segment through digital channels that increase their efficiency.

Alerzo and others are among the frontline B2B e-Commerce platforms that are empowering manufacturers, distributors and retailers by digitising the value chain and enabling efficient Factory-to-Retail distribution for food and consumer goods companies.

Tech-driven B2B e-Commerce platforms facilitate faster and quicker inventory movement for FMCG companies such as Unilever, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PZ Cussons, Reckitt Benckiser, Dangote, Dufil, and Flour Mills of Nigeria etc, thereby helping to bridge disruptions in the supply chain, occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.

Without the tech companies, it would have been difficult for manufacturers and distributors to keep pace with the rising consumer demands in a large population like Nigeria after the lifting of lockdowns.

Ninety per cent of Nigeria’s retail market transactions happen in the informal channels, with the food and consumer goods retail segment estimated to be over $40 billion. However, the informal retail sector is faced with challenges of limited inventory, lack of access to funds for expansion, unregulated and clustered market, distance to market or supply source and high cost of operation. The B2B e-Commerce platforms like Alerzo are helping to solve them by creating digital products that make things a lot easier for these retailers.

Through Alerzo, retailers can order products via SMS, voice and WhatsApp and deliver them to their stores in less than 4 hours, thus making the value offering they deliver a big win for all.

McKinsey in a survey titled, ‘Creating strong digital B2B channels at industrial companies’ posited that there is increasing realisation in the industrial sector about the impact of digitisation on their businesses.

The study further stated that industrial companies affirmed e-Commerce, data analytics and other technology solutions are capable of transforming every aspect of their businesses.

Now more than ever, B2B e-Commerce platforms are helping manufacturers and top-tier distributors, wholesalers and retailers create a new business model that bolsters comprehensive online shopping experiences.

Experts say most companies using B2B view digital commerce as a perfect income chance, and that entrepreneurs who leverage B2B e-Commerce for their wholesale channel are on the best decision.

McKinsey added that some businesses have even set ambitious goals to reduce costs, increase revenues, or improve cash management through digital solutions, while many are focusing on the digitisation of sales and marketing as more end customers migrate online.

In many ways, Alerzo and other B2B e-Commerce platforms are beneficial to the manufacturing and distribution value in Nigeria. Through data gathering and market intelligence, B2B e-Commerce companies offer valuable data sets for good business insight that can help manufacturers and distributors get feedback on consumer perception, product preferences. The understanding of drawbacks helps them make critical business decisions.

B2B e-Commerce platforms are closing the industry gaps in Nigeria by owning and operating full-stack tech-driven supply chains and logistics to enable informal retailers process their orders faster. Many of them provide warehouse facilities and fulfilment solutions to suppliers and storefront delivery to informal retailers.

Statistics show that organisations that port into digital transformation for their businesses are creating more revenue, high profits, and improved market evaluation.

B2B e-Commerce platforms are also augmenting brand building. Apart from selling products, they strengthen the bond with customers by creating strong brand visibility and retaining a regular customer base.

B2B e-Commerce can perform order fulfilment processes quicker and with ease. This is possible because they offer the latest cloud-based e-Commerce platform for the processing to be done and they also monitor and keep stock records.

According to McKinsey, the number of B2B customers using digital self-service channels to research and evaluate products rose from 20 per cent in 2016 to 30 per cent in 2019 across industries. New or repeat orders made through digital B2B channels rose from 40 percent to 50 percent over the same period, representing trillions of dollars in value.

B2B e-Commerce platforms have a customisation feature that enables manufacturers to customise the storefronts on how their products are displayed concerning the needs of customers. They have interactive functionality, rich content, and intuitive design features that help in improving the user experience for both B2B customers and retail customers.

Another bigger impact of the B2B e-Commerce system is that, apart from helping manufacturers, distributors and retailers become more efficient, B2B e-Commerce platforms also boost the Nigeria digital economy and financial inclusion goals. With Alerzo, informal retailers are able to receive and make cashless payments, track store profitability better and facilitate a portfolio of digital services including airtime purchase, bill payments as well as processing peer-to-peer transfers.

B2B e-Commerce platforms, indeed, bolster a new experience and support system for manufacturers, distributors, retailers and customers alike. With the anticipation that the socio-economic ecosystem may not return to ‘the normal’, more sectors, industries and business segments will take advantage of the benefits that come with digital transformation.

According to statistics, the volume of B2B e-Commerce in the United States recorded US$969 billion in 2017, and increased by 17% to reach US$1 billion in 2018. Forrester studies indicated that B2B e-Commerce market value is expected to rise higher in the coming years, hitting US$25.65 trillion by 2028.

The studies noted that many potential business organisations are going after B2B e-commerce due to the introduction of digital marketing. The reason behind B2B preference is the fact that it creates solutions and open transparency in business transactions.

Fittingly, B2B e-Commerce will remain a major wave behind technological advancement and enabler of digital optimisation among manufacturers, distributors and retailers in Nigeria.



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