Trend Alert: Transforming from a B2B to a B2B2C Business

Evan Klein

You know what used to be a big pain? Buying a mattress.

Less than a decade a go, if you were in the market for a new mattress, there was only one way to make the purchase. Buyers would go to a mattress curator or department store, lay on a few mattresses, make a selection and work with the sales rep to coordinate shipping and delivery.

Simply put: buying a mattress used to be time-consuming, expensive and a bit of a shot-in-the-dark.

Well, that process has certainly been made-over. Today if you want a new mattress, one-click will have it on your doorstep tomorrow morning. You can try it out for 100+ days and decide if you like it. And if you don’t like it, the mattress will be picked up from your house and your card will be refunded.

Businesses like Tuft & Needle, Casper and Endy identified the flaws in the mattress buying process, and made it easier. How? By removing the middle-person and going direct to the consumer. For the first time ever, the mattress industry is being propelled by B2C businesses.

As these upstarts begin to win market share, where does this leave legacy mattress businesses like Sealy, Simmons Bedding Company and Serta?

Going Direct to Consumer Causing Disruption

B2C strategies are dethroning B2B sales across many industries – not just in the mattress world (think: home products, car parts, beverage alcohol, etc.). Using ecommerce as leverage, the direct to consumer channel eliminates supply chain and and goes right to the buyer. For upstarts, the B2C approach makes for less logistics, less costs and less disruptions. For the consumer, buying is simplified – and more cost effective.

For legacy B2B organizations, staying relevant and competitive is a challenge.

What’s the next move here: Do traditional businesses continue investing in their B2B channel? Or do they go direct to consumer and compete against upstarts?

Staying Competitive with a B2B2C Strategy

Herein lays a trend I am seeing more and more with our clients: transforming from a B2B business to a B2B2C business.

When an organization comes from B2B roots, eliminating this channel is not an option. Years of time, money and attention have been put towards partners, technology, people and processes. This source of revenue fuels the business.

So, while retaining B2B operations, we’re seeing these companies open up a new channel – a B2C channel. Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C is allowing organizations to digitally transform, keep pace with innovation and ultimately capitalize on more revenue opportunities.

But identifying and opening a new revenue channel is one thing. Doing it well is another.

New Channel, New Customer Experience

We’re all consumers, and those great buying experiences stand out and have virality. For example, I know that dozens of my friends have bought a Tuft and Needle or Endy mattress. But having a direct relationship with buyers calls for heightened attention and nurturing. A poor customer experience will spoil any chance at building loyalty, and in the world of online reviews, negative feedback could completely stain a business’s reputation.

Transforming into a B2B2C company means serving a new customer. Everything, from business development to conversion and loyalty, is sprinkled with new customer pain-points and challenges.

Research is required to deliver a seamless, customer-centric experience. Persona creation, scenario design, customer journey roadmaps – all are needed to drive customer engagement effectively in both B2B and B2C markets. From there, new and different technology may be required to best service buyers directly.

A business cannot survive without support from its customers – so don’t leave expanding into a new market to guesswork. A digital advisory can help you roll out a B2B2C strategy quickly and seamlessly.

*Evan Klein is the CEO of Zaelab, a global digital advisory. Zaelab accelerates client growth through the continuous innovation of digital platforms and customer experiences. Zaelab removes the complexity and friction of digital platform implementation and operations, and proactively provides clients with leading tools and insights required to deliver exceptional experiences. *

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