COVID Impact on a B2B2C Industry and How to Tackle It to Come Out Successful

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The pandemic has shifted the way many industries worked. Primarily the convention that required a high degree of human interaction. 

With the onset of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, there is an accelerated use of technology which has enabled the digitalization of companies of all sizes. 

The B2B2C model is a new age one wherein the business caters to the end client through another business; as well as interacts with the customer under its own brand name.  What differentiates it from a distribution or channel sales model is access to the final client’s data. 

There can be many variations of the B2B2C model. The most familiar being Manufacturer > Distributor > Client. And while it is habitual to associate the word “distributor” to an individual or trading company, a “distributor” in today’s age can also be an e-commerce giant. 

This model is frequently seen in the technology industry, particularly in E-commerce and SaaS business’. Common examples include Microsoft, Open Table, and Amazon. 

In other industries, companies like MRF,  Volvo, and Goodyear have also evolved to become B2B2C companies. Where they directly engage with their audience that enables them to build a better product. 

The onset of COVID has impacted the industry behavior and response, in addition, the recovery of industries has been slower than expected. We, as a company has also faced a lot of challenges. 

Below I list the three challenges that I am experiencing. And the steps we are taking as a company to harness it to our advantage. 

Challenges

1. Slow Sales Cycle

With the sale of goods being restricted to essential only items and interstate transportation being on hold, the company cash flow has taken a hit. The logistics nightmare is a problem for every member of the chain. 

Although the online and digital marketplace is booming and clients can order the product, one cannot assure when the delivery would take place. Consumer behavior has also shifted. Primarily physical exchanges are now heavily dependent on the virtual interface and digital influence of businesses. 

All companies with a strong online presence are in the lead right now as virtual shopping is likely to grow in the coming months. 

2. Restricted Agility

A B2B2C model has many moving components. And thus, when one needs to upgrade parts of their business, it involves inducting all the partners as well.  Now, this can differ majorly from a retail business to a SaaS business. 

While the former has to up-skill their in-house members as well as other stakeholders, a SaaS business’ requires cash flow and time to innovate, test, and roll out products before it’s too late. 

Limitations on both fronts, restrict the pace with which one can upskill or invent, thus affecting the agility of the firm as a whole. 

3. Financial Health 

For a B2B2C business to thrive, it needs to have all its partners to be able to stay in business. But with a quarter without revenue, even the biggest of the business’ have not been able to survive this year. And likewise, smaller companies have taken the hit. With an essential component missing it is not possible to continue conducting business as usual. 

The above are the top challenges that came to my mind, that we as a company face in the B2B2C space. 

Below are the steps we as a company are taking to tackle the current situation and empower our partners and serve our customers:

Solutions

1. Upskill Your Stakeholders

We have organized digital tools training sessions for all our employees and partners. By introducing them to platforms such as Zoom, Google meet, and GoToMeeting virtual communication has become streamlined and organized. 

By using Microsoft excel and Google calendar we have been able to ensure synchronization of timelines and maximum efficiency. 

2. Invest in Outreach

We understand that we cannot hasten the sales cycle, but we can build a healthy pipeline of demand, in the hope of having qualified customers ready to purchase post lockdown. This helps keep the momentum amongst our partners and employees. 

And hence we have been investing in advertising our brand more than usual. We believe that people are spending more time on the internet, and its a good time to reach out to them.

3. Stay Connected With Your Audience

Beyond advertising, we are also investing in creating organic engagement by having a relevant conversation. Using social media channels to create a dialogue with our target audience. And understand what lies in store for them post COVID.

4. Digitize In-Person Experiences

To enable our partners to reach out to clients seamlessly, we are working on digitizing the showroom experience using Virtual Reality. Most people are afraid to step out of the house and into public spaces. We are working on reaching them in the comfort of their homes and simplify the shopping experience as much as we can. 

5. Offer Incentives To Small Business’

To aid our partners to stay viable we have also revised our contracts and eased our financial terms and conditions. This has made it easier for smaller businesses to work with us as well as better manage their cash flows. 

In the long run, I believe COVID is going to leave a positive impact. It has forced traditional businesses’ to look within and modern business’ to have less cash burn. The work from home option being the prime example of it.

Krishika Shah is the founder and director of Evolve Interiors and Exteriors Solutions LLP, a design studio that manufactures innovative surface decor solutions for modern contemporary spaces.

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