In 2019, the volume of the global e-commerce market in the B2B segment exceeded the B2C figure by six times. Many large manufacturers borrow strategies from online retailers to optimize supply chains and increase their attractiveness for customers. AB InBev Efes has become the first company in its industry to launch a B2B platform empowering partners to order products online at any time. Inga Panych, the Director of Technology and Sales Processes at AB InBev Efes, told us about the revolutionary ViBEERray service.
LDaily: Could you please tell us about the role of your B2B platform for manufacturing companies?
I. Panych: A thoroughly developed B2B platform allows us to increase the company’s sales. There are many B2B platforms globally, including Amazon Business, eWorldTrade, Joor, Alibaba. Ukraine also has ready-made platforms for working with manufacturers and shipping goods to retailers. However, their level of service and value for money are far from ideal. Businesses see the point in creating their own B2B-platforms that will fit the specifics of a particular production. At AB InBev Efes, we believe that this trend is the future.
Based on our experience, we can state that similar B2B platforms in China and Brazil have allowed our company to increase sales in connected outlets by an average of 3%. Besides, we have expanded the assortment since the times when we had been taking orders only in the traditional way — through sales representatives at sales outlets.
LDaily: What is the effectiveness of B2B platforms? How do they differ from the traditional service model?
I. Panych: Our B2B-platform allows outlets to order goods at any time and in any volume.
The traditional service model commonly looks like as follows: during a working visit to a sales outlet, a sales representative learns what volumes of specific goods it needs. However, there are three weaknesses in this model. Firstly, communication with clients is built through a sales representative. Should they suddenly fall ill or resign, we may lose clients. Secondly, if a sales representative does not visit an outlet on a certain day, they won’t order a new batch of products, so we may lose revenue. Thirdly, a sales representative spends more than 45% of the visit time on processing the order. This technical function distracts them from increasing sales that is the main purpose of such visits.
With this in mind, AB InBev Efes has already taken the first steps towards switching to remote sales and completely changing our contact strategy in 2019. We have launched telemarketing — sales by phone — which accounts for 12% of all our orders.
LDaily: How does the ViBEERray B2B platform work? What are its benefits for customers?
I. Panych: B2B-platforms are integrated with the distributors’ accounting systems connected to an extensive network of warehouses across the country. In our case, the customer’s order used to come to the distributor from the sales representative’s tablet. Now it comes directly from the outlet.
We update data on the ViBEERray platform at least once a day, so customers see up-to-date information on the number of available goods and order history. It also shows the nearest delivery dates. Customers can choose the most suitable ones considering available goods in the warehouse, the timing of promos, etc. So, the speed of both ordering and delivering goods increases.
LDaily: What are the prospects for the development of B2B-platforms for businesses, distributors, and customers in the Ukrainian market?
I. Panych: The development of our own B2B-platforms will allow us to digitize our sales and build a digital ecosystem with an opportunity to support every client. Once we connect the entire range of distributors, it will become a full-fledged B2B-marketplace, where outlets will be able to place orders in a large number of categories.
LDaily: What can you advise to attract customers to the new platform?
I. Panych: To stimulate customers’ interest in the new service, it is crucial to organize the service and support. The best option is the “single window” and 24/7 service. The contact person for the customer should be your or distributor’s representative.
It is also important to regularly train employees to be able to solve 99% of customer issues — from questions on how to access the B2B platform to ones about the benefits of the service.
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