Achieving B2B Sales Process Cost Savings of 10.3% Through B2B Digital Merchandising
Optimizing B2B ecommerce through streamlined and more automated commercial sales processes has become a key source of increased operating process efficiency for manufacturers and retailers. Even so, the B2B sales process between wholesale buyers and suppliers often remains laden with paper-based processes that are highly inefficient and expensive. Next-generation B2B ecommerce and digital merchandising solutions, like Elastic Suite from Emerald, are addressing these inefficiencies and generating measurable cost savings in manufacturers’ budgets for B2B sales, marketing and customer service. These cost savings are achieved by:
- Eliminating printed sales and marketing materials
- Creating more accurate orders and reorders
- Enhancing human resource optimization
- Improving speed to market
- Streamlining inventory management
- Providing integrated online payment functionality
- Reducing product sample portfolios
Collectively, these process efficiency benefits generated by Elastic can reduce the combined sales, marketing and customer service budgets of manufacturers by an average of 10.3%. The cost savings resulting from each of these process improvements is summarized below. These cost savings are represented as the average sales, marketing and customer service budget reductions experienced by manufacturers using the Elastic platform. The potential to fully realize this level of efficiency-driven cost savings requires 100% implementation of the Elastic platform and completely deploying the technology across all aspects of the B2B sales process as well as the marketing and customer service functions. It also requires exercising strong fiscal leadership to implement the associated staff reductions and process improvements.
Print Free B2B Sales
Brands that are using Elastic are realizing measurable cost savings through elimination of printed product catalogs and sales workbooks. Printing B2B sales materials is a significant line item in the sales and marketing budgets of leading manufacturers that is now being eliminated entirely. Both brands and retailers also benefit from the efficiency-driven costs savings of a much more strategic, streamlined and paperless procurement process through feature-rich, interactive digital sales materials. Across the verticals currently on the Elastic platform, manufacturers are seeing an average savings equal to 3.1% from B2B print elimination.
In addition to these measurable cost savings, the Elastic platform helps strengthen brands through highly visible and more sustainable “green” business practices. For example, data from the Environmental Paper Network shows that eliminating the printing of 5,000 150-page catalogs, or 750,000 pages total, reduces CO2 emissions by 33.8 tons while preserving 15 tons of wood equal to 90 trees. As more and more consumers are becoming aware of the importance of following sustainable lifestyle choices, their preference, affinity and loyalty to brands and retailers that follow similar business practices is also increasing.
Benefits of B2B Print Elimination
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Increased Consumer Preference
More Efficient and Accurate Sales Orders
The B2B process of purchasing and reordering products is time consuming and becomes increasingly expensive as the error rate in wholesale ordering rises. A fully integrated digital merchandising solution reduces costs in three key areas when compared to paper-based purchasing:
- Significantly streamlines the initial purchase
- Helps automate the reorder process
- Virtually eliminates order, reorder and shipping errors
Based on data from Elastic clients and from third party sources, replacing paper-based product ordering and reordering with a digital solution creates an average budget cost savings of 2.4%. Manufacturers experience an additional 1.2% savings from eliminating the extra shipping costs associated with reconciling order and reorder errors, for an overall combined cost savings of 3.6%.
Human Resource Optimization
Another source of cost savings is from human resource optimization, primarily due to the reduction of customer service support that is needed with paper-based ordering and sales processes. Similar to order and reorder streamlining, the cost to maintain customer service call centers and associated staffing costs can be reduced when implementing B2B merchandising technology. The result is fewer call center personnel needed to support initials sales, product reorders and reconciling order errors. Manufacturers on the Elastic platform are seeing a significant reduction in headcount of customer service representatives (CSRs) needed at call centers that translates to an average cost reduction of 1.1%.
Improved Speed to Market
Improved efficiency resulting from sales process streamlining and transitioning to digital sales materials translates into significant sale process time reductions. Two key elements with a measurable impact is reducing product time to market and lengthening the B2B sales season by not printing product catalogs.
Elastic clients have reduced time to market by an average of one full month during each six-month sales season representing a 17% improvement in product speed to market. This enhancement gives both manufacturers and their retailers considerably more time to strategically manage product lines and expand the sales season with time and resources more directly applied to the B2B sales process. This equates to an estimated 0.9% in efficiency-related cost savings when averaged across the Elastic client base.
More Transparent Inventories
A key feature of B2B digital merchandising technology is the ability to access real-time product inventory data. This provides greater transparency and more visibility into inventory status across brands and product categories. Cost savings come from:
- Less time required to compare sales performance of product lines
- More strategic management of production, warehousing and fulfillment
- Shorter more efficient sales cycles
Based on experience with clients, Elastic estimates an average cost savings of 0.7% resulting from greater inventory transparency.
Fully integrated electronic payment capability when using a digital merchandising solution eliminates all paper processes relating to B2B payment. This has a significant impact, especially when replacing non electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions. Manufacturers can enhance the relationships with retail partners by providing the increased flexibility and efficiency of buyer-initiated payment through the use of user-friendly retailer/dealer applications.
Integrated payment allows for greater transaction automation under preset terms, conditions and controls while reducing costs associated with human related errors or employee fraud that are possible with paper-based processes. There is also increased visibility and more efficient management of payables and receivables, thus reducing back office time and resources needed for payment reconciliation. These process efficiency improvements net Elastic clients an average sales process cost savings of 0.6%.
Fewer Product Samples
The Elastic B2B merchandising platform empowers sales reps with digital sales materials for use in the field reducing reliance on product samples during sales meetings or product demos. These smaller sample product portfolios contribute to cost savings by helping cut rep outfitting costs. For sales reps who manage large brands with multiple product lines they may also be able to operate more efficiently in the field with smaller vehicles while transporting smaller sample product portfolios. The total potential cost savings impact of fewer product samples, smaller vehicles and fuel savings is an estimated 0.3%.
Cost Savings and Sales Lift
When considering the impact of eliminating printed B2B sales materials, more accurate orders, enhancing resource optimization, streamlining inventory management, integrating B2B payments and reducing product sample portfolios, the total potential cost savings is 10.3%. I addition to these efficiency-driven cost savings, the Elastic platform also provides a significant incremental lift in B2B sales revenue of 21.2%. These sales lift benefits are detailed in a separate whitepaper, and along with these seven cost savings factors are included in an Elastic ROI calculator that can accurately assess the platform’s total overall positive financial impact.
To read the sales lift whitepaper, perform an ROI calculation for your company, find more information on the benefits of B2B digital merchandising or request a demo of the Elastic platform, please visit www.elasticsuite.com.