Understanding the Impact of Coronavirus in the B2B Industry: Insights from eMarketer’s “The Biggest Business Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic”

by: Luke Kreitner April 9, 2020

From global companies down to the smallest branches of industry, business sectors of the world are bracing themselves as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Staying informed is the first step toward successfully adapting to the effects of the coronavirus in the B2B industry. In a recent article, eMarketer teamed up with Business Insider Intelligence to provide a breakdown of the pandemic's effects within each major business market. Today, we’ll be looking at how the insights from “The Biggest Business Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic” apply to the B2B industry.

Coronavirus in the B2B Industry: The Breakdown

Below are several key changes that were highlighted in “The Biggest Business Impacts of Coronavirus.” By understanding these changes, we hope to arm you with the knowledge you need to begin redefining your value proposition and adapting to a drastically different market landscape.

1. Disruption in the Supply Chain

To quote eMarketer, “the clearest and most immediate business impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been a major disruption to supply chains.” From partial to complete shutdowns of major manufacturers, the effect of the coronavirus in the B2B industry looms large as businesses across the channel face production delays and unfulfilled shipments. In order to minimize disruption, now is the time to be open with your channel partners about your challenges and remain sensitive to issues they are facing.

Your B2B partners need your support. It’s important to begin investing in a strategy to build loyalty with members of your supply chain and improve collaboration. It will take all of us working together in order to create solutions.

2. Canceled Conferences and Missed Meetings

One of the largest impacts of the coronavirus in the B2B industry is the forced cancellations of trade shows and in-person meetings. eMarketer highlights a 2020 survey from Demand Gen Report stating, “53% of US B2B marketers consider in-person events and trade shows an effective channel for driving conversion,” indicating a “significant impact on sales rates and lead generation.”

This has major implications for the manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors who rely on tradeshows and in-person meetings as a major part of their sales and marketing strategy. Right now, it’s important to begin investing in digital channels to improve engagement, communication, marketing, and training for supply chain members to try and make up for the lack of in-person opportunities.

3. Coronavirus in the B2B Industry: The Shift to Digitalization

What once made up the B2B channel in the physical world has now completely shifted to digital channels. As a result, “marketers will have to get creative to find opportunities to deliver personal experiences to clients and customers from a distance.”

eMarketer notes a “boost [in] digital media consumption” and an uptick in eCommerce, as people spend more time at home and communicate in person less. With the digital world acting as the only form of connection, it’s important for B2B companies to explore ways to provide engaging, omnichannel customer experiences across digital platforms.

4. Shifting Attention from Sales Growth to Customer Retention

When it comes to the impact of coronavirus in the B2B industry, “Global media ad spending is likely to take a hit.” With unstable markets causing a general decrease in global spending, it’s important to shift your sales and marketing strategy away from acquiring new business. Instead, focus your attention on building retention with the partners who have driven the majority of your business thus far. Providing support to your partners during a time of need will continue to drive brand loyalty well beyond the life of the pandemic.

Overcoming the Effects of Coronavirus in the B2B Industry

The impact of coronavirus in the B2B industry has been substantial, but this isn’t insurmountable. You may be asking yourself, “How can I adapt to the urgent need for digitalized channels for communication, engagement, and customer retention?” An important first step might be investing in an online loyalty program. No, it won’t make all of your problems go away overnight, but it will give you a digital platform to engage customers, communicate with partners, and drive business in the areas that remain viable. Rewards are a way to show support for your partners, solidify your B2B relationships, and create opportunities to collaborate on solutions.

As always, Incentive Solutions is here for you. We are offering free consultations for all channel members in need. Together, we can overcome this.

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About Luke Kreitner

Luke Kreitner is the VP of Sales at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B businesses accelerate growth, increase sales, motivate channel partners and retain B2B customers.