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As 2017 arrives, here are some of the strategic issues that could impact on the way B2B ecommerce shapes up through the year…

Manufacturers will continue to add services to their product offerings

In the face of continuing economic volatility and tighter environmental regulation, manufacturing firms will increasingly add services and solutions to their product offerings to drive long-term revenue and margin. These services can support their core business but also help to achieve market differentiation and growth through innovation and diversification – and many new services will be firmly rooted in digital technologies that are ideal for ecommerce applications.

Wholesalers will continue their shift to ecommerce business models

Wholesalers see the big potential for ecommerce in consolidating business processes and rationalising their value chains. By continuing to digitalise their distribution channels they can gain competitive advantage against their peers and are also better placed to meet the challenges posed by suppliers and dealers selling directly to end users. In 2017, wholesalers look set to accelerate their move towards ecommerce business models.

Ecommerce platforms will help to digitalise the field-sales process  

Today’s smart ecommerce platforms not only open up a new and lucrative online sales channel, they are also increasingly valuable tools for supporting field sales teams. Far from being a threat to the traditional role of the sales rep, technology will be seen as a critical enabler that streamlines time-consuming administrative processes and enhances the customer experience, leaving personnel to focus on selling higher ticket items and relationship management.

Ecommerce will become a driver for digital transformation in SMEs

With the right ecommerce platform at the heart of operations, medium-sized businesses will be able to move more flexibly and confidently towards digitalising their approach to customer lifecycle management. Such a platform will enable the integration of ecommerce, CRM, business data and marketing automation to provide an end-to-end solution – from nurturing prospects, to managing transactions, to building sales value and customer relationships.

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