Tackling Supply Chain Optimization and Customer Experience | Guide for B2B Businesses (Video)

Across the world, the pandemic is impacting lives, businesses, and economies alike. For organizations hoping to minimize its negative repercussions and capitalize on a worldwide shift toward digital channels, e-commerce is more critical than ever. Not only are supply chains suffering from inventory shortages and production delays, but one-third of organizations expect “moderate to severe” operational and logistical challenges to last through years’ end. Many are concerned about the long-term impact on consumer confidence, or how the pandemic will fundamentally change buyer preferences and behavior.

Watch this recorded webinar to understand:

• How to address supply chain optimization and customer experience challenges stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak
• Why (and how) to better prepare your business for unexpected disruptions with a reliable e-commerce solution
• What challenges your business may face after the storm settles

Webinar Transcript:

Melissa: Hi, everybody, and welcome. Thanks for joining us. This is Melissa. I’m a marketing specialist here at Encore. And today, we’ve got Mike Brenneman from Sana Commerce to talk about guide for B2B business. So, hi there, Mike.

Mike: Hi, Melissa. Yeah. Thank you for thanks for hosting us today. Certainly appreciate it and appreciate the partnership with Encore. And hello, and welcome to everybody that’s joining us today. We know this is a difficult and uncertain time for many both in personal lives and for those in business. To help guide organizations through this challenging period, we’re hosting this webinar today to share some tangible tips on how to get ahead of short-term challenges and prepare for long-term effects stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. And you might be thinking, you know, this doesn’t really seem relevant to me, my industry hasn’t been heavily impacted, or I don’t really expect that any setbacks will last a whole lot longer, but let me assure you this pandemic will mean that the demands and needs of your buyers will change frequently and regularly, and it will only get tougher to continue to meet those in an efficient, simple, and timely way.

In short, you need the right tools to understand what you can do now, what you need to put in place for later, and how you can do this. With so many people in organizations going “digital,” it should be clear that the majority of these tips today are going to focus around technology, digitization, and e-commerce. We’ll tell you how you can leverage technology and future-facing strategies to mitigate risks to the best of your ability and prepare your organization to be more adaptable in the future with a strong e-commerce experience as a foundation and as a starting point.

Just a little bit of background on myself. And again, I’m Mike Brenneman, a channel sales manager at Sana Commerce. I have been in the Microsoft channel for over 12 years now. I have sold Microsoft Dynamics ERP. So, I’ve been on the Encore side, if you will, on the partner side. And I’ve also worked for a number of different ISVs, products that integrate into Microsoft Dynamics. But as far as agenda goes for today, we’re first going to take a look at how organizations are fairing right now. What are the challenges? How serious are they? How long will they last? What impact to business can we expect to face? Then we’ll take a look at how we can address the top three challenges, supply chain optimizations, customer experience, and business agility. And then lastly, we’ll dive into how an online sales channel, particularly, Sana’s ERP-integrated e-commerce solution can help address those. So, let’s go ahead and get started. To get started, we’ll first give you a quick overview of the landscape. There are new articles out every day, conflicting information is being circulated, but a few crucial points remain in ring true.

Businesses are largely facing a lot of the same challenges regardless of their industry. Some are struggling more due to heavy manufacturing or production dependence on China, but for the most part, we can fairly clearly define, A, negative impact of COVID-19 so far, B, opportunities presented by the switch to digital, and C, three key challenges that we’re expecting will have a short and long-term impact on business. So, we’ll start there. We’ll sprinkle in some poll questions throughout to understand how you all are doing compared to the average business. But the state of the world at the moment is an uncertain one. Everyone’s waiting to see what happens next or what the next challenge is they need to overcome.

For businesses, a lot of this uncertainty, as well as previous bans on air travel have caused a long list of challenges for organizations trying to continue to fill orders for their customers. But for those who are operating fully offline, COVID-19 doesn’t just threaten business, it’s an existential battle. The moral is you must be online to keep your staying power. But even if you are, you’re still likely facing some pretty big hurdles. As you can see here on the screen, among B2B businesses navigating the outbreak, 58% expect temporary production delays, 58% also expect inventory shortages, and another 25% expect significant downside revenue projections.

These days more people are online. More people are looking for your business to be online. They have expectations of the online experience, but e-commerce, it’s harder to do it right in the midst of the pandemic and there’s pressure to do it quickly. We’ll get into how Sana can help ease that a little bit later. Now, let’s see where those of you attending today are experiencing challenges. So, we’re going to go ahead and we’re going to open up the first poll question to everyone.

Melissa: Okay. I’m just gonna launch that right now. It should appear there on screen. So, it looks like we’re veering towards that lower revenue inflow.

Mike: All right. Interesting.

Melissa: [inaudible 00:05:47] majority.

Mike: Thanks, Melissa. So, continuing to move along, now that we’ve looked at some of the issues stemming the COVID-19 outbreak and gotten a sense of where some of you may fall across those problem areas, we’ll take a look at the flip side. While coronavirus has, of course, taken a toll on many businesses efficiency, processes, and revenue, it’s also presented many new opportunities. Now, a disclaimer, this varies a lot by industry and based on the resources of a business and the preventative measures and processes in place at the time of the outbreak. But on average, however, we’re seeing more buyers online. We’re seeing more purchases online and we’re seeing a higher average order value. More buyers are engaging in cross-channel purchasing behavior like ordering online for in-store pickup. As you take a look at the stats on the screen here, we can see a 20% increase in digital purchasing power, 52% jumping online sales, and a 62% surge and omnichannel shopping behavior.

And make no mistake, these habits that are starting to form, you know, as a result of the pandemic are not just gonna, you know, hide and go away when the pandemic is hopefully finally over. And then as you talk about online sales, there are also some specific verticals really where there’s even a bigger surge than what we’re seeing on the screen here. As an example, peril, home goods, and electronic industries that are particularly thriving right now. But with an e-commerce site or a revisited and improved one, organizations can more easily capture this online revenue and better meet buyer needs. It’s key that we have a clear view of in spite of both challenges and opportunities being present, what our focus areas should be in getting through COVID-19, and succeeding beyond it. Next, we’ll dive into the three key focus areas where we believe you can most significantly mitigate risk and embrace opportunity.

So, we know a lot of what we’ve covered varies across organizations, but there’s room for growth for any business. And these are three areas in which we believe your clients can…you all can make the biggest difference for your business. First one being supply chain management and optimization. Second one being customer experience and relationships. Third one being business agility and preparedness. The data that you see here is based on a poll of 600 supply chain managers conducted by the Institute of Supply Chain Management. Seventy-five percent of companies report disruptions in some capacity due to coronavirus-related transportation restrictions. A third of them are concerned about maintaining customer trust and relationships, and almost a third of them also believe the impact will last for at least the year. Still a large percentage are taking a wait-and-see approach to COVID-19 rather than being proactive in their efforts.

These are the three areas we’ll focus on moving forward. We’ll talk about the importance of proactive approaches and cover what you can do in the short and long-term to get ahead of it all. We can all do something to minimize impact and maximize profits/customer happiness. And in this time of uncertainty, let’s find out where our audience is spending their time, effort, and resources. And so, we’ll go ahead and we will open up our second poll question for the day.

Melissa: Great. Just launched that. It should appear on the screen.

Melissa: So, it looks like we’re kind of half and half here between a supply chain management/optimization and business agility or preparedness for future disruptors.

Mike: Okay. Thanks, Melissa. Now that you have a better view of landscape, we can dive into the more actionable insights. Taking into account the short-term and long-term negative and positive impact of these difficult times, we’ve gathered our best tips and tricks for how to get you through this period and to come out stronger on the other side. We’ll tackle each of the three areas individually so you can plan and visualize on how to help your organization. For most B2B businesses struggling right now, supply chain disruption is the culprit. As we’ve discovered, 3/4 of organizations have already experienced this disruption and more expect this to be the case. What’s even more worrying is that 40% of companies closed and weren’t able to reopen facilities for at least 2 weeks, in some cases, up to 8, due to supply chain disruptions. Common issues were high levels of dependence on China for product imports and manufacturing, not enough supply chain visibility, or not the right technology to actually enable it.

Fortunately, we’ve got some tricks that may help your business recover if this sounds like a familiar challenge. Our advice, in the short-term, think about sourcing locally or minimizing your dependence on overseas manufacturing, utilize the reach online marketplaces give you and your products, be transparent with your customers about what you’re facing, what you’re doing to address it, and how it might impact them. As an example, shipping delays. In the long-term though, you should consider putting technology and initiatives in place to improve supply chain visibility and get ahead of disruptions like these. The more you’re aware of what your status quo looks like, the better you can predict and prepare for issues as they arise.

Just to give you a real-world example of how organizations are doing this. I wanted to share a quote from the Chief Revenue Officer of Xometry, an on-demand online manufacturing services company. Bill Cronin clearly highlights the importance of stable, secure, and flexible infrastructure to underlie your digital strategies. But he also places an emphasis on the need to plan, prepare, and adjust as needed. So, Bill says, “The infrastructure we have is well-suited to manage flexibility for customer demand and manufacturing partner capacity. But we’ve learned we’ll need to better plan production and price products in our market.”

Now that we’ve given some ideas on how you can get started optimizing your supply chain, we’ll get into the two areas where we’ll focus most. Customer experience and business agility. Interestingly enough, looking back on the poll questions, those were the two areas that we saw, you know, as the highest areas of interest in the poll results from today. As we’ve discussed, having an online sales channel is the bare minimum your organization can do right now to meet customers where they are currently engaging. But just launching a web store isn’t enough to guarantee a safety net, particularly, in business to business. What functionality your web store offers, how it performs, what it looks like, and how easy it is to navigate and purchase matter. Here we’ve compiled the top four things you need to check off your list when considering implementing a web store.

We need to check off minimizing order errors, be equipped to handle the complexity of B2B ordering, offer optimized functionality, and show accurate information, always. In the long-term, you should consider going beyond just launching your e-commerce experience, but also supplementing it with the right future-proofing technology, much of which you can integrate with Sana’s out-of-the-box solution. So, for example, PIM products, right? Product Information Management, or EDI or our product export fee to leverage third-party online marketplaces like the new Facebook Marketplace or Amazon or eBay and others.

For another tangible example, here’s a quote from Sana zone Chief Product Officer, Arno Ham. When asked about the particular e-commerce functionality and offering businesses need to be investing or upgrading to right now, he gave one key example, real-time pricing, and inventory. Real-time pricing and inventory is critical for any B2B customer, but especially now as demand surges, inventory depletes quickly and it’s tougher to restock and complex pricing remains an obstacle for many as well.

We’re going to go ahead and on the topic of B2B functionality and online channels, read the room again and launch our third poll question and see what it is that you all have on the top of your mind right now. So, what is your business top priority at this moment? Do you have a web store? Do you have focus on e-commerce functionality? Maybe making other adjustments in the business, or just kind of, you know, batting down the hatches and waiting to see what happens?

Melissa: Great. We’ll just give that a little bit more time for everyone to answer. Okay. It looks like a majority says, “I want to focus on e-commerce functionality.”

Mike: All right. So, the final area of focus is one that maybe seems less apparent, but one that’s important nonetheless. It’s about how your clients can…how you all can put your organization in a position to better handle unexpected disruptors and become more agile in addition to becoming more digital. Our tips here revolve around three scenes, maximum visibility of what your organization is doing now so that you can better identify and predict changes. Second one is centralization of data, right? Minimizing the manual synchronization or the potential errors or inconsistencies across systems and databases. Third one, flexible solutions that can be enhanced, improved, and built upon from a foundational point. This would be your basic web store enhanced with add-ons or custom functionality for an even more sophisticated experience maybe later on. And software as a service solution could also be a good way to help boost efficiency and free up your organization to focus on larger priorities.

So, how can Sana Commerce help? We’ve covered the trends, theme, challenges, and opportunities that resulted from the recent pandemic. We’ve walked through tips on how to address it all. But we haven’t yet told you is how you can support your business to do all of this and how we can help. So, let’s go ahead and jump right in here. Offline, only brick and mortar organizations without strong e-commerce arms that were struggling even before coronavirus are now facing an existential threat to their businesses that make it difficult to recover. Those of you who are already online though, or looking to do so, you know, sooner are going to be better prepared. As we take a look at the slide here. You know, with Sana Commerce and just from a business strategy standpoint, look after your existing customers and their communities.

It is interesting, I had an organization that came to us a couple of months ago, first week of April, kind of right when COVID really started getting big. And they were up in Canada, they were a manufacturer of fuels and oils. And they called me and they said, you know if we can get a web store live in a week or two, we would like to move forward today. And as fast as the sales cycle I’ve ever seen, but the reason behind it is because they were in a unique position to not only continue to manufacture fuels and oils, but they wanted to look after the community and they wanted to start manufacturing disinfectants and hand sanitizers and toilet paper. They had 20 sales reps back office that were so over inundated with orders of these new products that they were manufacturing to help the community that they couldn’t keep up.

And so, we did end up getting them live in two weeks with a live web store. And now, they’re actually coming back you know, to look after their core business around fuels and oils with the second web store. But anyhow, I thought that was a nice story. You know, move your customers online. Ensure your e-commerce platform meets the needs of those customers. You know, maybe roll out new web stores to new regions or new markets. We’ve seen a lot of organizations over the course of the last three months that already had a B2B store, either stand up a B2C store and/or open up the B2B portal, you know, to be more of a hybrid so that the public can also use it and go through maybe a guest checkout process or convert new customers through that experience. And put safety measures in place to protect your employees and customers. And, of course, you know, on your website, on your web store, you know, let customers know about these safety measures and what you’re doing, show them that you care.

See how Sana’s solution aligns with current challenges and priorities. So, for example, you know, if we take a look at the first one, fast time to market, right? The things that companies want right now or fast time to market, they want that agility that we were talking about. They want to reduce their demands on limited internal IT resources. They want something that’s also scalable. So, not only can they get it up quickly now in order to help save their business and keep, you know, a couple of nostrils above water you know, and increase their, you know, that omnichannel presence, but they also want something that they can scale, customize, roll out to additional regions or more stores later on down the road.

And again, I think that the story of that organization I just mentioned a minute ago really highlights a lot of these, the agility, the fast time to market you know, and because Sana is a SaaS solution, it also reduced the demands on unlimited internal IT resources. And a little tip, if you already have a web store already, help your customers navigate it, right? With Sana, we’ve got two different experiences. Salespeople can actually log into the portal and they can represent the customer. And so, they can look at the customer’s order history. They could help them create a quote. They could create an order. They could flip a quote into an order, you know, and help them identify, you know, documents and information back in the ERP system that we exposed to the portal and self-serve.

From a customer’s success standpoint, we provide our customers the ability to impersonate their customers. So, this feature allows sales or customer service reps to actually access the customer’s web store in real-time. Meaning that when I impersonate a customer, I can see what the customer is seeing, we’re on the same screen. So, that way, if there’s an issue, if they’re not seeing their customer-specific pricing because it’s not set back up in the ERP system or something needs to be troubleshooted, they could pick up the phone, they could hit a chatbot, you know, they could email in and support can get on with them and actually look exactly where they are on the site and they can walk through and troubleshoot that issue together. So, interesting little tip there, if your, you know, existing technology lets you do that or maybe something to think about.

So, summary and key takeaways. So far in this webinar, we’ve shown you the top three setbacks, upcoming challenges, and opportunities stemming from COVID. We also offered tips on how to tackle it all. Not all, obviously, we can’t do that in 20 minutes. But we’ve now come to the end of that list, but we’re not done yet. So, next, we’ll do a quick recap of what you’ve learned. We’ll discuss how Sana can help you check all your boxes and then we’ll go ahead and we’ll open up the floor to some questions if there have been any. So, at the end of the day, I think, you know, if you’re looking to launch a web store or you’re looking to launch a web store quickly and you understand the value of the ERP-integrated approach, I think Sana has the answer that you’re looking for.

Sana’s integrated approach to e-commerce can strengthen your client’s business proposition and their online customer experience. It can result in success like they’ve never seen online, especially critical as offline operations continue to shut down. And this can continue if you keep your finger on that pulse and continue to make relevant improvements to your e-commerce experience over time, right? E-commerce is not a one and done. It’s constantly evolving as we talked about in the very first slide, buyers you know, demands in the way that their behavior patterns, right, they’re all evolving. We have to evolve with it. With our solution, we ensure that Sana web stores use product, customer, and pricing information taken directly from one single source of the truth, which is your ERP. And it’s all in real-time. We use your ERP to drive the features, functionality, and product information that appear on your web store, so that the data is always accurate, always in real-time. Your buyers are always satisfied with their experience and the end result with features and attributes, including those listed here.

So, if you all are interested you know, in taking conversations a step further, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself directly. You can also reach out to your account manager or sales manager over at Encore, and they can certainly get us in touch as well. But that being said, we will go ahead and I’ll give a big thank you to Encore and everybody that’s joined us today. And if there are any questions that did pop up along the way, Melissa, as you’ve been monitoring, feel free to go ahead and rattle them off and I’ll answer what I can.

Melissa: Great. Thanks so much, Mike. I’m just taking a look here at the question pane. I don’t see anything is come in, so sounds like we could probably wrap it up.

Mike: All right. Well, perfect. Thank you again so much for hosting us today. We appreciate it. Thanks to everybody who’s joined as well and appreciate everybody’s time and stay safe and healthy.

Melissa: Great. Thanks. Bye, everybody.

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