Ricardo Davila, B2B expert and digital-international executive is speaking at InternetRetailing Expo (IRX 2018). Ahead of the event, he spoke to InternetRetailing on challenges and benefits retailers’ can face during in transforming a B2B company into a digital-first business.
IR: At IRX 2018 you will be evaluating how B2B companies can change their mindset to think digitally without harming the existing business in your presentation: How can a B2B company successfully transform itself into a digital business?
RD: "Typically there are six steps that a B2B company must have in its digital business development. Firstly, it needs a general strategy, which must include data management, a plan for the kind of tools it will need and, naturally, a pricing strategy. Secondly, there needs to be internal synergy between departments, as well as externally with customers and vendors partners. The third step is to get the right people with the right skills, with manufacturing and distribution balanced profiles. Naturally, you also then need to follow up and measure against KPIs you have in place already in your business. You also need consistency and you need to look at how to move from local to global going forwards."
IR: Can you tell me about one challenge that is particularly important in this area?And one major benefit?
RD: "The real challenge is having the right people. There are three main pillars: digital experience as an IT manufacturer, customer-driven and retail as procurement and partners focus. To find someone who balances these three main pillars without the cost of an executive to fill a digital job. To build an ecommerce platform doesn’t only mean new opportunities and volume of sales, it also means a protection of the current customers and marketplace. Some of the retailers’ are developing service capabilities in parallel to moving their boxes as an operation to compensate the lack of digital capabilities. Is that a long-term protection? We don’t know the answer yet, as online retailers’ are also developing new service capabilities."
IR: What would one piece of advice you give to retailers looking to build a digital-first strategy that allows them to move quickly into B2B commerce?
RD: "Cross-collaboration internally and externally with customers (and users) and vendors is the best practice for those looking to build a digital-first strategy. Any obstacle in terms of B2B sales and operation can be better worked out if there is an alliance as a backbone. The manufacturers are always looking closer to the end users (customers) and the retailers are always looking closer to the vendors (manufacturers). Why not put all these actors together to work on a co-digital programme (externally = customer end user+manufacturer+retailer)?
"In terms of internal alignment, digital programs are being led by CDOs who are normally also in charge of the IT programs in any company. Synchronising all the actions from these teams with the other areas of the company, such as supply-chain, marketing, sales and HR, is a key success factor. The CDO programs are new in the internal processes of any company, companies who are for decades working without their intervention."
IR: What are you most looking forward to at IRX (beyond your own presentation)?
RD: Digital and B2B are a constant learning process as everyone is thinking out of the box. I am looking forward to seeing all other presentations and also to network with people from different parts of the digital business: software, IT providers, manufacturers and retailers.