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Channel Enablement for Manufacturers

Digitizing B2B2C Business Models to Grow Revenue

In today’s hyper-competitive market, manufacturers must adapt to the digital age to remain relevant and drive growth. While traditional distribution channels have long been the backbone of B2B2C business models, the rise of digital commerce is reshaping buyer expectations and behaviors.

A New Generation of Buyers and Changing Expectations

What are business buyers looking for in a purchasing experience? Digital Commerce 360 concluded the following:

"The takeaway for 2024 for B2B sellers of all sizes is that business buyers want an omnichannel — and digitally driven — purchasing experience. Customers prioritize companies that offer digital tools — officially putting the paper catalogs on the back burner. And if companies want to remain competitive and grow, they will need robust self-service options that users can opt into and a system that allows for a smooth and seamless experience."

Millennials and Gen Z now make up 64% of business buyers, and they are shifting purchasing expectations. These buyers are active information seekers, more demanding and technically savvy than previous generations. They are also more likely to use self-serve transaction channels. 

Unfortunately, most sellers don't meet the evolving preferences of their buyers. A Worldwide Business Research report reveals that 56% of B2B buyers believe there is a “gap between the existing experiences offered by B2B sellers and their evolving needs for purchasing”. This gap represents a significant opportunity for manufacturers to digitally enable distribution channels to capture greater market share.

The Revenue Opportunity for Manufacturers

Manufacturers are paying attention to shifting buyer preferences and understand that digitally enabling distribution channels hold massive potential. A recent survey of manufacturers by Digital Commerce 360 shows what upcoming investments are planned:

Digitizing the B2B2C Business Model

Self-Serve Distributor Storefronts

While manufacturers may rely on large distributors that already provide digital buying experiences, many also rely on smaller distributors for a large volume of orders. Small distributors often lack the resources to launch and manage ecommerce storefronts, putting the manufacturer's market share at risk. In a digital world, small distributors need the support of manufacturers to keep up with changing customer demands. 

Znode’s B Store module addresses this challenge by enabling manufacturers to offer distributors the ability to launch and manage stores. B Stores serve the middle B (the distributor or dealer) in B2B2C. The manufacturer acts as a master administrator while providing the platform for distributors to stand up and manage their own ecommerce storefronts.

Through a self-service setup, distribution channel partners can configure a store, adjusting elements like the product catalog, pricing, and store theme. This autonomy empowers distributors and allows manufacturers to scale effectively across numerous channels without replacing traditional distribution networks.

B Stores' flexibility makes them suitable for a variety of applications. Companies can adapt them to power different types of stores, such as dealer stores, reseller stores, project-specific stores, or white-label stores.

The Benefits of B Stores 

Channel enablement and growth are the primary benefits of B Stores, but manufacturers also gain several additional advantages:

  • Account Information: Centralized control of customer and account data.
  • Product Information Control: Ensure accurate and consistent product details across all distributor storefronts.
  • Brand Control: Maintain consistent branding and product information across all channels.
  • Pricing Control: Ensure consistent pricing strategies.
  • Customer and Channel Loyalty: Strengthen relationships with distributors and buyers through enhanced service and support.

Portals Meet the API Economy

Portals have long been a part of the manufacturer’s toolkit. For years, manufacturers have offered portal functionality for channels to access and download product specification and material data safety sheets, check invoices, and maybe place bulk orders. Headless ecommerce and API-first applications have significantly expanded portal capabilities.

Znode’s Commerce Portal offers a “single pane of glass” experience, bringing together sales reps, distribution and dealer channels, and buyers into one platform. The portal enables role-based access, providing tailored data and functionality based on user roles. 

Sale roles can view all accounts and account-specific sales, place orders on behalf of accounts, route orders and manage order status, manage quotes, and view and manage a 360-degree view of the commerce regardless of how an order is placed. 

Distribution channels can manage all of the traditional portal functionality, request quotes, manage jobs and projects, place orders, submit service requests, and more. If required, the buyer can also check order status, choose shipping options, and more, depending upon the business model and relationship between the manufacturer, distribution channel, and the buyer.

The Flexibility of Headless B2B Ecommerce

Znode’s Commerce Portal offers core functionality such as roles, orders, order routing, and the flexibility to integrate with third-party systems. Using a combination of Znode’s Commerce Connector and its API-first architecture, the Commerce Portal displays role-based information from Znode and third-party systems, including:

  • Service and ticketing software
  • CPQ software
  • Shipping software
  • Relevant ERP data, including pricing, order history, invoices, and more

The Commerce Portal is a collaboration tool for manufacturers and distributors to grow together rather than a place to download product sheets and check invoices.

The ROI of the Commerce Portal

The Commerce Portal acts as a center of commerce for manufacturers and their distribution channels, delivering significant ROI through channel adoption and loyalty, as well as labor savings from automated order processing. This enables manufacturers to scale operations without increasing headcount in inside sales and customer service positions.

By embracing digital commerce tools like Znode’s B Stores and Commerce Portals, manufacturers can digitally enable their distribution channels by automating traditionally labor-intensive processes, increasing efficiency, and enhancing collaboration. This strategic move drives sales growth and secures a competitive edge in the digital age.


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