As consumers today, we can access all kinds of information immediately and purchase nearly anything on demand. Gone are the days where we flip through catalogs, buy products by phone or wait weeks for something to be delivered. Today, it’s faster, more interactive and easier: We order pizza through an app on our smartphones and have it delivered in minutes, slice, dice and analyze our personal spending with tools like Mint.com and get all the inspiration we need to redecorate, cook a nice dinner or makeover our wardrobes by scrolling through Pinterest.
The way we shop in our personal lives has advanced tremendously — it’s more instantaneous and social than ever before. So why hasn’t this translated into our work lives in retail? Why can’t we collaborate and share within our own communities? After all, when was the last time you heard someone talk about using PowerPoint as passionately as they do about Pinterest?
The consumerization of the business-to-business (B2B) experience and technology has been slow going, but we’re starting to see big changes, especially in retail. As consumer behavior and expectations change, retailers are realizing they need to meet consumers where they are; the key to doing this is getting more innovative products to market, faster, which means finding better ways to manage the design, development and delivery phases of product lifecycle management (PLM).
Virtual shopping options are reducing the need for buyers to have face-to-face conversations with suppliers and make burdensome overseas trips. Designers and brands are using digital storyboards and social tools to share ideas and collaborate on product design, while merchants are ditching shared drives, spreadsheets and email for more modern tools that allow them to collaborate earlier in the product development process.
We’re starting to buy at work like we buy at home which not only saves time and money but also brings a bit of passion back into the creative process, and isn’t that the reason we all got started in this industry to begin with?
Businesses are made of people and it’s time we bridged the growing gap between the personal experience we have as consumers and that of B2B. We need to be more market-driven, visual and human. Staying on-trend and connected to consumers means staying in touch with your instincts as a consumer and tapping your retail community to be inspired by others. Let’s take a page from the B2C world and ditch the spreadsheets in favor of a better, more collaborative B2B experience. It’s those retailers that can successfully cross the chasm between these experiences that will stand out, while other risk being left behind.
To learn more about how to bridge the gap between the B2B and B2C experiences, read The New Retail Economy: How Retailers Can Succeed.