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Jakarta Post

The time for digitizing Indonesian B2Bs is now

  • Patrick Vaz


Jakarta   /   Thu, February 25, 2021   /   01:37 am
The time for digitizing Indonesian B2Bs is now A stock illustration of digitalization shows two people looking at digital displays and holograms in a futuristic interior. (Shutterstock/Peshkova)

The business to business (B2B) landscape is transforming rapidly. COVID-19 has accelerated the inevitable digital revolution in B2B sales, forcing companies to shift from traditional approaches to digital channel leveraging. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company says “around 90 percent of B2B decision-makers expect the remote and digital model to stick around for the long run”.

With a much younger and tech-savvy workforce joining the revolution, Indonesia is prudently moving in the same direction. The government is targeting the digitalization or digital integration of 30 million out of 64 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by 2023. On top of industry transformation, this initiative also aims to advance recovery of the national economy.

However, any transformation entails challenges. Most B2B businesses remain apprehensive over the lack of digital infrastructure, technical expertise and employees to digitize sales. B2B companies also have a very complex environment, as well as many moving parts and longer deal cycles.

According to YCP Solidiance’s white paper, Transforming B2B Digital Sales in Southeast Asia, “while 60 percent of sales managers believe that digitizing sales will be critical to the success of the business, at least one-third of B2B companies still do not provide online sales channels”. Further, it says: “Among B2B manufacturers, only 37 percent of them have a dedicated marketing team to manage these online sales channels effectively.”

The above data seem to highlight the fact that many B2B players are (still) missing out on the importance and urgency of digitization. It is therefore important to understand the three main benefits of digitization for businesses before jumping into the fray.

  1. Scale your business and increase profitability. Digitization allows B2B companies to scale their business by providing 24-hour online self-service and digital catalogs. Sales representatives can better educate the customer on their product range and grow sales by reaching entirely new markets without companies having to increase their sales force, which results in increased profitability across the board.
  2. Understand your customers better to boost satisfaction. Through digitization, wholesalers can streamline processes and improve customers’ overall experience. B2B buyers nowadays are accustomed to new-era procurement preferences and standards. By improvising operational performance through speedy and simple interactions, brands and businesses can provide better customer experience and reinforce satisfaction.
  3. Data banks support marketing strategies. B2B companies can establish data banks by going digital. The data comes from a variety of sources, from direct surveys to secondary sources such as social media, web browsing and search behaviors, or device preference measurements. Using advanced analytics, businesses can generate customer insights to identify which offers, products and services are hitting the right notes.

In this unprecedented time of the ongoing pandemic, there has never been a more urgent time for B2B companies to go digital than now. It is better being early than missing the momentum. Here are three tips on how to kick-start your transformational journey:

  1. Assess and identify your current state. Always start by asking the right question to get the right answer. Most companies are unsure of how to navigate large-scale transformation and afraid of getting it wrong. It is wise to run an assessment model to identify your needs and the initiatives you should implement. Not every company has the same conditions: Some are already very far down the road to digitization while others are just starting out.
  2. Construct a holistic plan for your transformation. The second step is to construct a holistic plan to determine a clear roadmap to solidifying your market position. Also, set clear end-goals to stake out the key areas that need attention. Design and plan an effective top-line digitization strategy based on your current condition and needs. A tailored approach is necessary to successfully address the relevant digital challenges.
  3. Build your company’s digital foundation. When you’ve developed your plan, the final step of digital transformation is to build your digital foundation by investing in the right infrastructure, tools and channels. Collaborations with strategic partners who are experienced in digitization can be useful to plug any gaps in your company’s skill sets. Another opportunity would be to assemble staff groups in a digital environment to stimulate fresh ideas and encourage dialog with other companies that think differently.

Moving forward, digitization will shape purchasing decisions, whether your company adjusts or not. B2B buyers who cannot find important materials in the information-gathering phase may opt for a different supplier, but you will never be informed about it. Remember to make sure all decision-makers shoulder responsibility in your company’s digital transformation. We need to help B2B companies ace their digital transformation.


The writer is Indonesia country manager at Zilingo, a technology platform powering the global supply chain.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.