How Not having Streamlined Communication Can Wreak Havoc on a B2B Business

The B2B (Business-to-Business) world is steadily growing every year. In the past, B2B construction businesses relied heavily on in-person collaboration through trade shows and conferences. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift towards digital collaboration pushed many B2B businesses out of their comfort zones. This gave the B2B world more incentive than ever to pivot to using digital platforms. Furthermore, the pandemic exposed problems that can occur when a business does not have streamlined communication within these digital platforms.

Imagine this scenario: a home supply store wants to buy flooring from a supplier. They will likely want to shop around and be able to instantly gain answers about pricing and inventory levels. While trade shows might have worked as a one-stop-shop in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic brought these to a halt. Now it’s on the home supply store to start researching flooring prices, and these are often kept in a paper price book, requiring another salesman’s time and effort on the other end of the transaction.

The Problem with Relying on Paper

Oftentimes, B2B buyers need answers fast and want to be able to quickly compare pricing between competitors. Forrester analyst Stephen Casey noted that B2B buyers who are put in immediate contact with a live salesperson (which is necessary when prices are kept in a paper/PDF price book) could be put off by that experience. Instead, buyers want to do their own element of shopping around and becoming informed on their own before being put on the spot. Creating digital elements to a company website that include company pricing and other frequently updated information can make B2B buyers feel more in control of the experience. Furthermore, it would save both companies time and resources in the long-run, since the supply company needs to staff someone to flip through the book and look up prices for each inquiry.

Chatbots and Virtual Assistants

Chatbots are becoming increasingly useful for this very purpose. These are bots that can pop up once a buyer has been browsing a site for a certain number of minutes. By proactively offering pricing, these chatbots can give the buyer the answers the home supply store needs in a timely manner without having to communicate with a real person. Better yet, once the chatbot has been programmed to do this, it frees up more time for the workers on the supplier end, allowing them to be more efficient. These bots can also be updated to include the most up-to-date pricing.

Implementing Social Media

Social media can also help streamline communication and boost sales–but only when it is being used efficiently. In a study conducted last year out of Sweden’s University West, researchers examined how social media could be effectively implemented in B2B construction businesses. The primary use of social media should be to distribute product information. Beyond that, its usage seemed to help B2B businesses immensely when there was managerial involvement to promote consistency and follow-through. In the example of the home supply store and the flooring supplier, having a presence on social media to show off available products and encourage engagement could help the flooring supplier make more contacts. The home supply store could easily connect with the flooring supplier and receive pricing information, or the flooring supplier could even post this information proactively on social media.

Streamlined B2B communication is VITAL

Working Towards a Better Future for the B2B Industry

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increased interest in how B2B businesses can better integrate digitally. Last year, a study out of Finland examined B2B construction companies in the eCommerce world. This study worked to identify what factors drove quality when it came to an emerging online presence for B2B businesses, and currently, there is even more research trying to look into what makes a B2B business an online success. As many aspects of the world have been forced to pivot to a digital space, B2B businesses must find ways to adapt as well. By streamlining communication to proactively offer more of the pricing and inventory online, B2B businesses can set themselves up for success in this new sphere.

VendorPriceBook is a web-based and online app that vendors and retailers in the flooring industry use to connect on-the-spot. Try out VendorPriceBook for free at vendorpricebook.com.

How to Increase Customer Satisfaction Through Technology

For any business, supply chain management can mean the difference between failure and flourishing. In the floor remodeling market, this rings especially true. How many projects have been derailed when a dream tile or hardwood is out of stock?

Shiny marketing may attract consumers, but inventory and prices form the bedrock of customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, they want practical and stylish flooring available now at the lowest price point possible. If any of these factors don’t align, your customer falls through the supply chain gap.

Technology Intervention

Increasing supply chain efficiency used to require much more legwork. Today, as they say, “There’s an app for that”. 

Read on to see how mobile technology can help your business close the gaps.

Mobile vs. Manual Accounting

For efficient inventory management, ditch the paper and turn to cloud-supported accounting like QuickBooks Online or Xero. Mobile accounting allows you to update expenses, orders, and invoices in the moment. 

Standing in a bamboo field to source your next supplier? Simply pull out your phone and crunch numbers in the app. The bamboo farmer gets paid, and you jump ahead of bamboo flooring demand.

You can automate inventory by connecting order data to product stock in the cloud. This saves you hours and errors of counting inventory by hand. Buyers will see the difference on the shelves.

Customers need up-to-date pricing and availability so they can get to work on their home project.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Centralized communication apps, like Slack or Discord, are another powerful tool to support customer satisfaction. 

Product updates can reach all employees in a single click. In turn, customers receive correct information about what’s available at what price, with the inventory to back it up. This builds consumer trust in your company.

Consider intercompany channels, the ultimate space for suppliers and retailers to communicate. A request that may have gotten lost in phone-tag or emails can now be found in one spot. It’s all about making communication accessible.

Listen to Your Customers

How often do customer service representatives hear the same complaints? Or the same wishes? 

Perhaps a certain type of laminate sells well, but your customer service center receives a high volume of complaints later. “This laminate catches dust and dirt at the seams.” Soon after, customers are calling on their warranties. 

Imagine if you could solve the problem months ahead in product design.

Through mobile communication, you can. In-app tags and search tools allow customer feedback to be flagged and gathered. These trends can be analyzed to materialize real changes – before the customers and demand wave disappear.

The Virtual Marketplace

At one time, suppliers and retailers relied on trade shows to find each other. Now, you can discover or be discovered by simply scrolling on your phone. 

Apps like VendorPriceBook bring together retailers, suppliers, and brands. Much like a dating app, each business has their own profile with photos and information. Filters allow you to cast a broad or narrow net. And while it might be less romantic than an OkCupid match, sometimes a beautiful vertical alignment is born.

Jump In, Jump Ahead

Floor remodeling customers are a reliable demand stream just waiting for an organized operation to provide the products they desire at competitive prices. Empower your company using mobile technology to tighten the supply chain, wherever you may fall in line.

If you’re not sure where to start, our flooring app contains essential tools to maintain up-to-date inventory and prices. Give it a try for free to see how small tech changes can create big ripples in your business. Our newest features include the ability for retailers to create purchase orders right on the app! VendorPriceBook is truly revolutionizing the way retailers and vendors do business!

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Sources
https://www.gocanvas.com/mobile-forms-apps/46-Retail-Sales-Wholesale-Distribution/show_category

https://www.vendhq.com/retail-apps

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tradebeyond-the-fastest-growing-retail-sourcing-app-innovates-with-major-retailers-300823455.html

https://www.cbxsoftware.com/solutions/tradebeyond/

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/12/16291246/slack-shared-channels-frontiers-announcements

https://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/quickbooks-online-review/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/joycemazero/2019/11/05/excellence-in-supply-chain-management-requires-supply-chain-expertise-in-the-boardroom/amp/

Weatherproof Your Business with VendorPriceBook

Bad weather can hit at any time. Floods, storms, snow, and tornadoes can delay or close  a business for days or weeks at a time. The closure of stores, roads and even entire cities can occur as a result of inclement weather. During Superstorm Sandy, for example, large swaths of the Eastern seaboard were closed from the preparation and recovery from the hurricane’s devastating effects.

The toll bad weather takes on residents and businesses can range from mild to catastrophic, but there are steps that business owners can take to minimize the damage and get them back to work faster.

By utilizing cloud-based technology, business owners have the power to access their work documents from anywhere there is an internet connection. VendorPriceBook is a cloud-based web tool that connects Vendors and Retailers in the flooring industry. By moving business from paper pricebooks and internal software, business operations are no longer tied down to the office desktop computer. You can keep in touch with business contacts via mobile phone, tablet or laptop.

In case of emergency, it pays to have a cell phone as well as a land line. But nowadays, many people find having a cell phone more convenient and useful in their day-to-day interactions than being tied down to a landline at home. Think of cloud-based technology for business as your primary connection to the world. Sites like VendorPriceBook allow you to maintain contact with your customers and suppliers even when the storms outside cut the power or the office desktop is underwater.

In case of property damage, VendorPriceBook provides an invaluable digital back-up copy for all your company pricing and information. And, again, there is no need to download and print these files or navigate complicated software to access them. It’s as easy as logging onto a Facebook account.


VendorPriceBook also allows employees to access these documents at all times via Sub Accounts. Employees and employers can communicate via the Chat feature online, which comes in handy when the phone lines are down or when everyone is scattered across multiple locations.

After the storm passes, using the cloud can also help you get organized and back to work more quickly. As soon as you have internet access, you’re back in business. VendorPriceBook allows you to swiftly and easily manage customer relations, view and upload product pricing and maintain up-to-date customer information.

This year, help weatherproof your business with the benefits of VendorPriceBook and cloud-based technology.