Top 4 insights: Digital transformation webinar in the B2B food and beverage industry
In our "Digital & Business Transformation for Growth" webinar focused on the B2B food and beverage industry, speaker Anastasia Roumelioti, Board Member at Kodak Alaris and an eCommerce leader in the FMCG area with previous roles at Danone, P&G and Unilever under her belt, was joined by panelists Nick Purdon, Consumer Products Leader at Deloitte Digital, and Anastasia Drougka (Ana), Staff Product Manager at commercetools. The discussion about how F&B B2Bs can leverage digital transformation to drive growth in their organizations was moderated by Julia Rabkin, Senior B2B Product Expert at commercetools. Here are the top four insights from their exchange.
#1. The importance of digital capabilities in F&B
According to Anastasia, digital capabilities should prioritize the end user — the person accessing a website or using a system — rather than only the business model. By having a single digital infrastructure that supports both B2B (business-to-business) and B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) models, companies can unlock synergies and gain insights into consumer behavior that can drive innovation and improve customer experiences.
When you're thinking about digital capabilities, it's important to think about the person that is using the system rather than just the business model. So whether it is B2B or B2C or B2B2C, the reason why we were able to unlock synergies is by having one digital infrastructure to support the B2B and the B2B2C because, on the other side, there's always a human being accessing a website.
Board Member, Kodak Alaris
Anastasia identifies several unique challenges faced by the food and beverage industry, including the need to respond quickly to crises and ensure product visibility for consumer safety. Also, convenience, consumer experiences and brand loyalty remain a challenge, as well as the fluctuating needs and consumption habits of households. Digital capabilities can help B2Bs address these challenges by collecting and analyzing data on consumer behavior, transactional information and lifetime value.
By leveraging these insights, companies can not only evaluate marketing campaigns, but also drive innovation around new products and services — and even enter new markets. The answer, according to Anastasia, is to build a digital infrastructure that can adapt to changing consumer behaviors and market conditions.
#2. Future-proofing and customer experience are key
As the food and beverage industry continues to face challenges and uncertainties, it is crucial to future-proof businesses and prioritize customer experiences. One example of future-proofing Ana shared comes from Just Eat Takeaway.com. After migrating to commercetools, the company was able to add new business units seamlessly, resulting in a strong performance for an impressive user experience. This approach was so successful that Just Eat Takeaway.com opened new locations to address new demand.
Julia and Ana agreed that a modern tech stack (like commercetools) can help future-proof businesses and prepare them for potential shifts in the market. Both concurred that businesses should be prepared to adapt to changes and invest in tools to help them do so.
Ana also emphasized the need for businesses to prioritize customer experience in the food and beverage industry. She noted that this involves unlocking the value of the customer experience, such as personalization and convenience, and ensuring that it aligns with evolving consumer trends. By focusing on the customer experience, businesses can differentiate themselves and stay ahead of the competition.
I am a strong advocate that any business needs to start from the consumer experience. And the businesses that are very well prepared are the ones who not only understand and design from the consumer experience, but they have the right mechanisms in place to properly assess what's happening in the lives of their consumers.
Board Member, Kodak Alaris
#3. The biggest roadblocks in the F&B sector
Nick highlighted the challenges faced by the food and beverage sector due to rising input costs and pressure on consumers caused by the cost of living crisis. With 40% of global consumers feeling worse off this year than last year, according to a Deloitte Digital survey, the food and beverage industry is experiencing additional pressure. As a result, the industry is struggling to invest in technology to deliver brilliant experiences, as the core business doesn’t generate enough cash to make the necessary investments.
To navigate these challenges, Nick noted that speed to market is essential, as well as the ability to experiment with different experiences that deliver tangible value. This is where composable commerce from commercetools comes in. Composable commerce allows businesses to experiment with different channels, touchpoints and functionalities in a modular and scalable way, enabling them to quickly test and iterate on new ideas and features. This helps businesses to deliver value to their customers faster by bringing new products and services to market quickly and efficiently.
There's a healthy skepticism among the C-suite about where to invest. They want evidence of some kind of an ROI. It's worth plugging commercetools or composable architectures in that respect because speed to market is really important and the ability to experiment with different experiences to demonstrate that they'll really deliver tangible value is really critical.
Director at Deloitte Digital
In addition, composable commerce helps businesses to reduce the risk of investing in new technologies and experiences by enabling them to build and test on a smaller scale, focusing on key features before scaling them up. In this way, businesses can focus on delivering tangible value to their customers without having to invest large amounts of resources into unproven ideas.
#4. Different industries can learn from each other
Everyone on the call agreed that there is a lot the B2B and B2C companies can learn from each other. Anastasia pointed out that both industries can benefit from a use case involving product sampling in a digital way, in which customers provide personal information in exchange for a free sample. The healthcare industry, for example, could benefit from this method by facilitating doctors and healthcare providers to send and see samples through online registration that enables systems to verify transactions between healthcare providers and doctors.
Nick added that relationships matter in both industries, and B2B sales reps are especially adept at building long-term partnerships with their clients. By learning from B2B, B2C companies can incorporate intelligent content strategy, personalization and a headless commerce solution to drive baskets from anywhere, rather than just relying on customers to come back to their website. This can help unlock lifetime value; a key to long-term relationships.
The thing that we all can learn from the B2B industry is that relationships really matter. What sales reps do really well in the B2B industry is building a long-term relationship with their clients in the form of partnerships. And they're invested in their clients' success. So, how could we learn from that in a B2B2C or B2C setup? And how can we do that at scale? I think digital capabilities can help us with intelligent content strategy and personalization. A headless commerce solution can add a sales touchpoint anywhere rather than asking people to just come back to the site.
Director at Deloitte Digital
Julia agreed, noting that B2B-like experiences are becoming increasingly important to B2C customers. She cited a statistic that 83% of buyers prefer to buy remotely, and these buyers are primarily millennials. Businesses must adapt to this trend, plus incorporate B2B features into their B2C experiences to remain competitive. Anastasia concluded the conversation by highlighting the importance of aligning objectives with clients, and Ana emphasized the need to stay current with changing trends in the industry.
To hear everything our experts had to say about digital and business transformation for business growth in the B2B food and beverage industry, watch the entire webinar.