Reshaping the future of B2B growth

By Caly Zehra Ispahani - Head of B2B Solutions – foodpanda Pakistan

It’s common for business experts to look ahead into the future to foresee changes to a particular industry or a certain profession. Sometimes, however, it’s more beneficial and insightful to take a look back into the past and learn from it. Looking back at the past few years, the supply chain industry has been deeply affected at every level, and sprung back with phenomenal resilience.

Companies with agile supply chain management were able to react quickly to the changes and disruptions in logistics. With this advanced visibility of the global scenario, companies prepared their supply chains for the inevitable shocks they were to face. Not only have today’s businesses learnt to be agile and react quicker, but they have also understood the importance of staying prepared for rainy days.

The future of B2B supply chain business is likely to be further shaped by a number of factors, including advancements in technology, changing consumer and business expectations, focus on sustainable practices into business operations, more emphasis on flexibility and shifting global economic conditions.

According to research by private firms, Pakistan is estimated to have more than a million small-scale grocery shops, or neighbourhood kiryana stores that have limited options when it comes to procuring inventory. There is also a great lack of convenience in carrying out operations during times of disruption, like protests or other social unrest. Experts estimate that more than two-thirds of Pakistani retail stores lack direct business contact with any organised distribution channel.

Pakistan’s B2B landscape has been completely transformed by the emergence of new players like Bazaar, Dastgyr, Retailo, Paymob, Bayopari, Jugnu and foodpanda for business, to name a few. These and other B2B marketplaces have played an important role in mitigating the supply chain and business continuity issues faced by businesses all over the country. The conventional B2B path to purchase usually involves more decision-makers and gateways than B2C, making the agile nature of online purchasing significantly more appealing; Comparing products and pricing has never been easier.

A significant reason for the rapid evolution of the B2B industry is the young, tech-savvy workforce. According to B2B International, millennials will account for 44% of the workforce by 2025. Additionally, a Global Web Index study shows that millennials are increasingly involved in the purchasing decisions of B2B companies. Today’s B2B customers know exactly what they want from their supply partners, and are willing to invest more in creating additional channels and more convenience for a more personalized experience. Emerging digital platforms have shaped their expectations in the online marketplace, and they want simplified consumer-like experiences that make life easier.

Similarly, today’s B2B players are digital natives who grew up in an increasingly tech-dependent reality, fully aware that to keep relevant, embracing new business models and investing in technologies that improve supply chain efficiency, predictability and flexibility to meet the increasing demand for just-in-time delivery, is absolutely critical.

In a short time, customers and businesses have transitioned from primarily face-to-face interactions to trading virtually. Digital interactions have paved the way for platforms to advance technologically and build credibility around their work, while also improving in-person engagement where necessary. Mobile has played a fundamental role in the B2B customer’s heightened expectations, replacing the role of the service agent or middle-man.

Dastgyr, for example, enables shopkeepers to place orders, manage inventories and budgets, directly from their mobile phone. For the food industry, foodpanda has an integrated approach towards supply-chain optimization.

It’s focus on better planning, forecasting, and capacity management allows them to provide unique convenience for its restaurant partners, any time.

With the right mix of in-person and mobile interactions, and e-commerce self-service, today’s B2B customer has learnt to expect more value than ever across the purchasing journey. In order for B2B organisations to dynamically adjust to this change, they must move on from traditional business models to a more hybrid approach to satisfying their customers across industries.

An increasing number of companies are leading this change by taking the necessary steps towards digitalisation.

These companies are designing new ways of operating based on their learning from disruption, and taking a proactive approach to fluctuations in demand and the preferences of their customers.

As global supply chains begin to find their footing once again, now is a fundamental point in time for business leaders to think about what changes they would like to keep permanently and which to scrap. In short, the industry will never be the same; Supply chain strategy has changed forever in today’s digital-first world and only the businesses that are able to adapt and innovate will be well-positioned to succeed in the future.