B2B and B2C are dead – the future of retail is P2C

Traditional models like business-to-business, business-to-consumer and direct-to-consumer are no longer relevant. Rather than optimising their route to customers across multiple systems, organisations must now rethink their entire strategy around a new, singular model: product-to-consumer
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The rise of ecommerce over the past two decades has been as formidable as it has been rapid, with global online sales set to hit $4.2tn this year, according to Adobe. Digital commerce now powers much of the retail world, enabling consumers to tap into global supply and receive items in their homes in days or even hours. The user experience, in theory, is totally seamless.

Yet while the vast majority of retail businesses have expanded online, many are struggling to live up to that user experience and maximise the potential of their ecommerce platforms. The growth of digital commerce has not only brought with it higher customer expectations, but also ever-growing complexities and overheads to ensure the many moving parts of the ecommerce ecosystem, including systems, feeds, channels and marketplaces, can work together effectively.

As digital businesses have acquired tools, solutions, and data to help deal with these challenges and serve different digital channels, new problems have emerged through the many silos which have formed. Despite their intentions for a seamless customer experience, in the daily grapple to manage the vast array of tasks and complex omnichannel processes between providers and consumers, organisations are seeing their consumer relationships become divided and diverted.

As a result, companies are “losing the connection” with their consumers, notes Dion Hinchcliffe, vice-president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, in a recent report by the company. “One primary issue is that these organisations are not taking a system-level view or looking at the problem holistically,” he adds. “What we mostly find is a series of tactical responses, one operational silo or issue at a time. The reasons are clear: it’s easier to seek to address pain points or shifts one at a time, trying to piece together business responses by using traditional IT solutions, legacy information feeds, and automation that is more task-focused than outcome-focused.”

With a P2C platform, companies can eliminate 50 different categories of applications inside their organisation and gain control over the experience they deliver to customers

Amid these issues, it is becoming increasingly clear that the traditional B2B, B2C and even D2C models of the past are not working in the digital age. In a recent Forrester report, 62% of companies said they are planning to update or entirely replace their commerce platform system, showing many current solutions aren’t solving today’s commerce problems. This calls for a new product category altogether – a new high-level abstraction for how a digital commerce ecosystem functions – called product-to-consumer (P2C), according to Constellation Research.

A P2C platform enables companies to streamline the path their products or services take to reach consumers. This path is known as the product information value chain, and P2C helps companies manage the flow of digital information within it. 

For instance, product data – such as the price of a jacket – typically starts with a supplier and is routed through various channels – like Google Shopping or Pinterest – before it reaches the consumer. Within the product information value chain, the jacket’s product data needs to be adjusted to meet the requirements and specifications for each channel. Instead of manually managing the flow of product data across hundreds of channels, a P2C platform allows companies to manage the entire lifecycle of product data in one platform.

“Technology is supposed to make our lives easier but when companies adapted their tech stack for the evolving ecommerce landscape, they ended up with a Frankenstein model of solutions, creating a tech stack that isn’t scalable on a global level,” says Vincent Peters, CEO of Productsup. “How and where you reach your customers changes every day, and it’s become a lost cause for marketers to keep up manually. With a P2C platform, companies can eliminate 50 different categories of applications inside their organisation and gain control over the experience they deliver to customers.”

Looking at P2C management as a whole, it offers several key strategic functions: expanded consumer reach through real-time syndication to thousands of marketing and selling channels; cross-platform operations across a wide range of providers; and finally, a holistic product data ecosystem through large-scale integrations of various sources. Through these functions, a P2C platform has enormous potential to transform business efficiency, accelerate go-to-market strategy, and build customer loyalty.

The Productsup P2C platform is the only global, strategic, scalable platform managing all P2C information value chains across any platform, channel and technology, and processes over two trillion products a month. The platform automates manually intensive labour through advanced AI and ML capabilities, offers personalisation to adapt to the individual needs of each commerce business, eliminates the need for IT support through an easy-to-learn interface, and improves visibility of the product information value chain with a 360-degree view management system. Productsup’s market-leading position in the new P2C category helps free brands, retailers, service providers and marketplaces from their digital commerce anarchy.

“P2C is an opportunity to erase the patchwork of solutions created over the last few decades since the birth of ecommerce, and it all starts with following consumers’ experiences” adds Peters. “Shoppers don’t care what channels you’re in; they care about what channels you’re not in. If you don’t have a consistent presence at every customer touchpoint, you’ve already failed to meet the bare minimum expectations. P2C management empowers companies to anticipate those experiences and react in real-time.”

For more information, download Constellation Research’s P2C Management Market Overview: productsup.com/guides/constellation-p2c-product-to-consumer-overview

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