3 Signs That Your B2B Business Model Is Becoming Obsolete

What worked to grow a manufacturing and distribution business 50 years ago is no longer enough. 

When I meet with business executives, I hear a common refrain:  “My business is doing okay right now, but I see the writing on the wall.”  The ground underneath you is shifting. You aren’t certain what you need to do. You aren’t sure which questions to ask or what you need to invest in, but you know if you don’t do something, you are in trouble. 

Here are three signs that it’s time to modernize your business model.

Dealers are going out of business

Retail is changing dramatically. In 2017 there were 7,000 store closures announced, up 200% from the year before. More people are purchasing products online than ever before. While people are still buying goods in physical stores, there is a noticeable shift. 

According to The Atlantic, “Between 2010 and last year, Amazon’s sales in North America quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Sears’ revenue last year was about $22 billion, so you could say Amazon has grown by three Sears in six years.”

If you built your business on the model of in-person stores (distributors and dealers in a physical location), you’ve probably already noticed those businesses are going out of business and closing. Finding other brick-and-mortar places to sell your products isn’t a great long-term option.

Traditional channels aren’t working as well

Your business is shifting to the web – whether you like it or not. 

You may start hearing that customers are leaving you to work with competitors that offer online ordering or online tools. You may have noticed that your dealers are using the internet more effectively than you are. Or maybe your website is a growing source of leads for you, but you know it is not as effective as it could be. 

I recently spoke to a distributor who sees the majority of their leads coming via their websites, but the sites have a poor user experience that is not mobile responsive. Despite that, it seems to be working for them for now, but for how long?  And what is the danger to their business if they lose their organic rankings as sites with improved mobile experiences are prioritized in results?

Here are just a few stats from the ‘Think with Google’ report on The Changing Face of B2B Marketing:

  • 89% of B2B buyers use the internet during their research process.
  • Nearly half of B2B buyers are between 18-34
  • 42% of B2B buyers use mobile devices in their purchasing process. 

Amazon has entered your space

You can’t ignore Amazon anymore. You’ve noticed the products you make are being sold on Amazon by others. You see more and more of your distributors selling on Amazon. In fact, in some cases, you are fulfilling the orders they sell on Amazon.

Amazon has entered the B2B space, and companies are scrambling to figure out what to do. B2B is harder for Amazon to tackle as the purchases are more complex, but they are investing a lot there and it would be a mistake to think they won’t figure it out. They already have a strong offering in Amazon Business.

For many manufacturers, they lack control over how their products are being marketed on Amazon. Product descriptions aren’t as strong as they should be, and the imagery isn’t compelling.

In addition to questions around how to sell on Amazon, the Amazon experience has changed your buyers’ expectations for working with you on the whole. Your buyers expect your site to be comparable to Amazon in functionality and ease-of-use.

Lead the Way

You don’t want to be in a position of just reacting to your distributors or to Amazon, but to be able to lead and grow. You haven’t developed your own expertise with regards to digital marketing and eCommerce – nor do you have the time to learn it all.

Internet technologies and best practices are constantly changing, and you aren’t certain what to invest in. What is going to take your business down the path toward a long-term ROI?

If you don’t adapt, the outcome is pretty clear. It’s time to stop avoiding the problem.

Brilliance is in the business of helping manufacturers and distributors navigate and dominate the online space, opening new sales channels, and generating growth.

Schedule a call with us today.

Lori McDonald

President & CEO


Lori McDonald 

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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