The past year we have seen a huge shift towards remote selling and digitalization in B2B sales. At the Amsterdam trade fair in January 2020 we asked over 200 participants about the importance of remote selling. Back then, it wasn’t considered a priority at all. A year later, with the pandemic highly impacting the fashion industry, the tables have turned. Now, digitalizing the sales process is an essential way for brands to continue during lockdowns.
Doing business digitally is a new reality to some. We spoke to over a dozen of our clients these past few months to see how they are doing and which challenges they’re facing. By sharing insights based on these conversations combined with our own views, we hope to offer some perspective and provide solutions for challenges you may encounter while doing remote sales.
To some brands, it might feel like a stretch to make the transition to digital during the current covid crisis. There is an overall decline in fashion sales going on. The situation varies heavily per sector, with a noticeable downward trend in formal and business wear, while casual and sportswear sales are rising. The good news is that sales are expected to bounce back.
The current situation may be overwhelming, but it offers opportunities as well. Digitalizing your sales process is not a quick fix, but a long-term investment. Digital is here to stay. As soon as trade shows pick up again, business is expected to accelerate. Making a digital transformation will benefit this process, as it brings time and cost efficiency.
So, how to proceed? The best way to invest in digital right now is to focus on self-service and content. By content we mean product images, model photography, detail shots, but also videos and CMS capabilities in the sales journey. Our clients indicate that the right kind of content results in the best possible sales experience for their customers now that seeing or touching the products is not an option.
In line with market trends and our client’s needs, our tools to show and sell collections digitally have an increased focus on self-service. Sales can be done remotely and even independently by your clients without compromising on the quality of their brand experience. With digital lookbooks for example, storytelling options help to convincingly convey your brand’s story from a distance.
During these challenging times, naturally we’re hearing back that there is an increased need to save costs. Self-service can be beneficial because of the substantial reduction in back-office costs it brings. Your clients can log in to view their orders, download product images and create a line sheet or brochure. Independently, without needing to contact your support team.
Another important part of bridging the gap between physical and digital sales is security. We want to take away any possible safety concerns about self-service, that is why we have integrated trusted payment modules such as Pay.nl and Adyen, and offer the option to sign documents with legally secured signatures thanks to the integration of DocuSign.
Perhaps you’re wondering which steps are next in order to stay ahead. We’ve thought about this a lot and came up with three pillars that we’re investing in for the near future to help you future-proof your business:
Reducing complexity while at the same time offering more functionalities and possibilities to your clients. This may sound contradictory, but can go hand in hand. We are striving to constantly improve our tools and keep them intuitive and easy to use.
Connectivity is key in saving you time and effort. We aim for smooth integration with ERP software such as SAP, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and many more fashion specific ERPs. Our tools also have a strong connection with CRMs, PIMs and external services such as FashionCloud, Pay.nl, Adyen and DocuSign.
3. Data & insights
With user and order insights provided by our software, your sales representatives are equipped to make sales processes and order proposals smarter and analytically derived.
If we look ahead together, beyond this crisis, what will B2B sales look like? From what we are hearing and seeing, we expect real life sales to come back, but in a different way than before. That is why an omni channel approach could be an interesting way to move forward.
The presentation of new collections is likely to become more segmented; with a selection of key clients still coming to the showroom for an exclusive multi-screen experience, while the majority of customers explores collections digitally and (pre and re)orders via self-service.
If you aim for a smooth digital experience for your clients, your main gain is efficiency. Investing in digital means a tremendous efficiency boost and cost reduction for your business. Besides helping you to get through this crisis, digitalization allows you to shape your own future as a brand.