Consumer buying behavior is changing drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, businesses around the world are modifying their operations to reflect the changing landscape. In a time when thousands of workers are being laid off, some companies are expanding their labor force dramatically. The linchpin to business continuity in the wake of social distancing, government-mandated shutdowns, and shelter-in-place orders is ecommerce. B2B suppliers can help their business survive the current disruption and become better prepared for the next one through digital commerce.
Massive Surges in Hiring to Meet New Consumer Demands
COVID-19 has forced countless restaurants, retailers, and other nonessential businesses to shut down operations. But people still need medical supplies, household products, and food. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and take-out restaurants are seeing huge upticks in demand. CNN reports that companies like CVS, Walmart, Papa Johns, Instacart, and Amazon are planning to hire hundreds of thousands of workers in the immediate future. New jobs in delivery, fulfillment, and warehouse operations make up the bulk of the planned hiring.
Buyer Behavior Dramatically Changed in Record Time
Neilsen has investigated buying behavior as the COVID-19 pandemic has developed. They identified six thresholds that reveal spending patterns tied directly to the crisis. Early thresholds showed consumers stocking up on pantry items and medical supplies, leading to large supply-chain strains. Many essential daily supplies are out of stock in stores so consumers have turned to online shopping to meet basic product needs.
Neilsen concludes that once this storm has passed, consumers will emerge from their homes and resume daily routines, but their behavior will be altered forever. There will be a new normal. Neilsen expects “permanent shifts in supply chain, the use of ecommerce, and hygiene practices.” These shifts will impact B2B buying as well. Suppliers who are not set up to meet the new behaviors and expectations of their buyers will not survive.
Expected Supply Chain Changes that will Impact B2B Suppliers
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause changes in the supply chain, establishing a new normal. Understanding what those changes will be can help suppliers better prepare themselves for this new normal.
- Quality Expectations: Buyers are going to seek greater assurances regarding safety, quality, and efficacy. Suppliers will need to have documentation and evidence ready to present to buyers that clearly communicate the trustworthiness of their products or materials. Suppliers may have to reconsider which key benefits they highlight to buyers to reflect this new standard paradigm.
- Supply Chain Transparency: Buyers are going to want to know exactly where products and materials originated and will demand complete transparency from origination to the delivery dock.
- Increased Demand for Local Goods: Suppliers may benefit from promoting a product or material’s local origins. Local producers are typically smaller and more focused operations. During COVID-19 local companies have been agile enough to respond to their local market’s concerns and gain an edge in the market as a result.
- Technology and Digital Commerce: Millions of people who have never worked from home or purchased products online have been forced to do so during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. This experience is breaking down perceived barriers to such practices. Suppliers must be ready to provide easy online buying solutions to these converted digital buyers.
TradeLeaves is the B2B ecommerce solution for suppliers looking to reach buyers in their local market and further afield. Be ready to meet the evolving needs of your B2B buyers with TradeLeaves’ suite of B2B services.