Over the past three years, many B2B organizations set their sights on digital transformation, rolling out new processes, technology and operating models only to realize how far behind they were. Now, they’re playing catch up while simultaneously battling rising buyer expectations, rapid technology innovations, and growing pressure to outperform the competition.
To set their business apart and build stronger relationships with buyers, the most successful B2B businesses are tapping into a key area of opportunity: innovative digital products that provide a user experience tailored to their buyers and employees.
Digital product innovation is crucial to moving your business forward in 2023. Find out why it’s important, the benefits of digital products, and some top examples in the B2B space.
What’s the difference between a digital product and a digital project?
Digital products are tools that help make the buying journey easier for your customers. While both digital products and digital projects are important, there’s a few key differences.
First, a digital project has a short life cycle and most are considered complete when a new update or release becomes available. Products can and should exist for much longer, evolving and optimizing over time to continuously deliver high quality experiences.
Digital products are considered successful if they are deployed on time, within budget, and if it meets the original goals. In contrast, digital product success is primarily evaluated based on how well it did or not meet the intended outcome for the key stakeholders. In some cases, the timeline to measuring success may be longer for digital products compared to digital projects.
Why is digital product innovation important?
It’s no longer enough to simply “do digital.” In this time of continual evolution, B2B businesses have to take action and embrace change to “be digital”. To achieve this goal, real digital transformation, they’re shifting to a digital product innovation mindset.
As more companies shift their brands into the digital space, many B2B business face a crowded competitive landscape. So how do you stand out? Effective digital products deliver value and provide an innovative, relevant user experience. It’s a way to differentiate your brand in order to attract new customers and retain current ones.
This is especially important as buyers elevate their expectations for buying experiences and supplier relationships. Based on our 2022 B2B Buyer Report, we know 72% of B2B buyers have experienced frustration over a supplier’s resistance to changing their operations to better fit buyer needs.
And buyers are willing to switch suppliers and pay more for a better digital experience: 81% of B2B buyers would choose a supplier with excellent eCommerce and customer portal capabilities even if the supplier’s product was moderately higher priced than a competitor’s.
While these statistics can seem unsettling, they actually highlight an area of opportunity. Your business can stand out by rising to the level of these buyer expectations. Taking a customer-centric approach — placing your customer at the center of your business — allows you to understand buyer expectations, solve their pain points and build loyalty.
Benefits of digital product development in B2B
These days, B2B companies face an increasingly complex digital landscape — more complex than that of their B2C counterparts. While B2C companies can easily implement a standard cart experience and personalized suggestions, B2B companies need to cater to various internal and external customers — and each of those relationships has their own nuances. Factors such as pricing structure, user permissions, customer and order history, customer install base and more all impact the B2B digital landscape in a unique way.
Digital products give customers what they want and need. By leaning into digital product innovation, you can make it easier for buyers to make initial and repeat purchases, move through checkout and invoicing, discover new products, understand product information and pricing, and carry out product configuration and quoting. Offering a better customer experience builds customer loyalty and drives repeat purchases, in turn generating more revenue.
Your business itself will also gain benefits. Successful digital products support your strategy and maximize your assets. They also help future-proof your business in the face of changing market conditions. When factors like a recession or high employee turnover impact your business, your digital products serve as reliable, dependable tools that provide ongoing service to your customers. By nature of being digital, they allow for agile optimizations based on customer feedback or new external or internal factors, as well as future scalability.
Digital products can differentiate a brand, disrupt an industry, and drive business growth. That level of innovation positions your organization as an industry leader, as it transforms your business and even the industry as a whole. The many benefits of digital product development have the power to help your business survive and thrive in this ever-evolving market.
Examples of digital product innovation in B2B
Digital product innovation requires a shift in company mindset and culture. With a focus on agile processes and data-driven decisions, B2B organizations can strengthen internal team alignment to create innovative digital products that benefit both their buyers and their business.
For example, a B2B event company could build a full dashboard with features that make ordering, management, checkout, and branding easier and more efficient. The dashboard would include information such as:
- important dates and deadlines
- a comprehensive catalog with up-to-date product information specific to each venue
- helpful content with tips to maximize ROI
- a purchase system that can accurately calculate price based on a variety of factors
- order history for easy access in the future
Over time, the digital product could add updates like live chat assistance, event management features, product filtering, quick links to additional resources, and more. All of these features help to improve the customer experience using digital tools.
With thoughtful planning and execution, your business can make this happen. Start by integrating your digital strategy, internal assets, customer and competitor insights, and other aspects of digital product development to design and launch a successful product. And as the product rolls out, you’ll collect valuable data and feedback to help you implement ongoing improvements.
Staying stagnant is no longer an option for B2B businesses. It’s time to provide more value to your buyers and drive your business growth. It’s time for your business to embrace digital product innovation.
Contact a digital transformation team member, or download our “B2B Guide to Digital Product Development” white paper.