Adapt or Die? How B2B Teams Need to Use Adaptive Merchandising Today to Thrive

The data and insights to help B2B teams learn how to use Adaptive Merchandising.

22 Oct 2019


The time to adapt to new markets, channels, buyer needs, and industry requirements is now because it’s either adapt or die. It sounds a tad dramatic, but it really is not. B2B marketers, product teams, e-commerce managers, and customer experience managers must start to embrace an Adaptive Merchandising™ mentality. This means knowing how buyers are making purchasing decisions, adapting their needs, and merchandising product content so that they may make the most informed purchase decisions.

It’s all about being flexible and nimble in creating compelling product experiences for customers while keeping the rules of Darwinism in mind. Only the strong (adaptive) survive.

According to the latest inRiver report, How B2B Companies Solve the Challenges of Revenue and Scale with Better Product Information, brands are facing more competition than ever and the growth is not slowing down.

Iconic brands Toys ‘R’ Us and Blockbuster, and industry darlings including Siebel Systems, or RIM are not-so-darling anymore. Not anticipating what changing buyer preferences mean on a broader scale and adapting business processes to meet those changing needs ensures your brand or solution won’t make it to 2020 and beyond.

3 Steps to Use Adaptive Merchandising:

 

1. Use data to identify changing buyer preferences

There is no shortage of actionable data today. Access data across your organization to uncover trends in customer behavior or demand and make sure to measure success or failure. Pay attention to what the data is telling you. Are sales down?  Returns up?  Is product quality or speed of delivery now an issue? Do customers seek functionality that is out-of-scope or not on the roadmap?

Look at the feedback and data available across all channels. Seek insight from customer satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, online chats, or data on returned products. What is the data telling you and how can you address the specific challenges at hand? More importantly, how do you address or solve the greater issues these problems indicate. Being nimble or adaptive in response to hard data can help you address potential issues before they impact revenue or reputation.

2. Build a culture of customer-centricity

It won’t happen overnight, however, if you encourage teams and build a culture focused on meeting and exceed customer needs, you’ll become more adaptive in your practices. For example, empowering teams to put the customer at the center of all you do means not delivering the functionality on your roadmap that no one asked for, but committing to the features customers need and want. Product enhancements or new versions should map directly to feedback, reviews, or complaints received from actual customers or buyers, not concepts developed internally on a whiteboard. It matters.

B2B study competing on global stage data
inRiver B2B Study 2019

 

3. Use the right technology to enable adaptive business processes

The explosion of channels and marketplaces today means competition is global.  According to the inRiver report, more than half (51%) of respondents are operating in 6-10 markets, and 32% are in more than 10. Global marketplaces now mean that anyone with a website and great SEO can be found and sell to your customers. So use technology to help you scale because even if you aren’t selling globally, your competition is.

Most commerce teams struggle to keep up with the vast amounts of product content that needs to be formatted and updated for each channel and marketplace. Because of course, no two are the same. Multiply that by the number of products, configurations, and languages per release or per season and you’ve got too much data to update manually. In fact, the study shows that 45% of global businesses take 6-11 months to create and update product content when entering a new channel or market. Ouch.

Even worse, one-third of respondents (33%) say their product has frequently been pulled from shelves or delayed because of inaccurate or inconsistent product information.

That’s where a PIM solution comes in. Manual data entry won’t scale to meet your needs and mistakes can mean products pulled off that digital shelf or not allowed into ports or stores due to different regulations. Leverage the right technologies to scale to meet business needs. Technology doesn’t solve everything, but it can alleviate the manual processes that won’t scale to meet global commerce needs. Teams in B2B are redefining commerce with an adaptive merchandising mindset and it starts with understand buyer needs.

Want to learn more about how to become better at adaptive merchandising? Download the research report, How B2B Companies Solve the Challenges of Revenue and Scale with Better Product Information now.

 

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Written by

Erika Goldwater, CIPP


Erika Goldwater is the director of global communications for inRiver. An industry veteran, Erika lives and breathes B2B marketing, content, public relations, and data privacy. She's a Boston marketer who hails from Baltimore.