As vice president of ecommerce and digital strategy at Hanes Supply Inc., a distributor of construction and industrial supplies including chain hoists for lifting heavy materials, Billy Hanes plays a central role in choosing and managing the digital technology that his company uses to provide an attractive and effective online customer experience. On Nov. 4, he will address how B2B companies can choose the critical digital technology they need to be successful in ecommerce.
We caught up with Billy to get his views on trends in B2B ecommerce.
We are seeing gains in the number of customer inquiries online.
DC360: What is driving B2B companies like Hanes Supply to expand online?
Hanes: Customer demand and the rising “Point and Click” generation, which increasingly wants to do business online.
DC360: What are your biggest internal and external barriers?
Hanes: Internal: The ability of legacy associates to learn and adapt new technology and the B2B features of a new website.
External: Increased competition in the online space. National players have a huge capital advantage of scale to grow effectively.
DC360: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?
Hanes: We are seeing gains in the number of customer inquiries, which has increased.
DC360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them?
Hanes: Focus on ease of use for the end user. Make data streamlined via application programming interfaces (APIs) and EDI connections.
DC360: Regarding COVID-19, what is the biggest adaption your company has made?
Hanes: The ability of our associates to use digital means to interact with customers, vendors and co-workers through Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
DC360: What existing trends will the pandemic accelerate?
Hanes: Point and click.
DC360: What new ideas will become trends?
Hanes: Increasing inside sales force importance and capabilities.
DC360: What post-pandemic needs will become opportunities?
Hanes: B2B functionality on our own website to give customers all access to content and tools for purchasing.
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