Supplyframe Research Highlights Digital Customer Engagement Opportunity in Global Electronics
New Supplyframe research indicates that more than 40% of organizations launched a customer experience or ecommerce digital transformation initiative within the last year. Yet more than a third of companies (36%) did not launch any major digital customer engagement initiatives in the same timeframe.
“Customer expectations and buyer behaviors in the electronics supply chain have changed”
The pandemic was a gating factor for more than a third of these businesses, as 39% said that it delayed their customer experience and ecommerce digital transformations. But there’s still opportunity for businesses to advance their customer experience or ecommerce strategies.
“This research illustrates that the global electronics industry is still in an early stage of digital customer engagement maturity,” said Steve Flagg, founder and CEO of Supplyframe. “The good news is that there is plenty of room for growth. Semiconductor and electronics components companies that optimize digital channels and move at the customer’s pace have much to gain.”
The research was based on a March 2021 survey of marketing and sales leaders from 180 global electronics suppliers and distributors, 84% of whom work at companies with more than $100 million in revenue. Conceptial Inc. conducted the survey on behalf of Supplyframe, whose intelligence platform for the global electronics value chain senses and interprets billions of intent, demand, supply, and risk signals to deliver insights at key decision points throughout the design-to-market product lifecycle.
Consumerization of Work Calls for a New Approach to Support Customers’ Buying Journeys
The way that engineering and procurement professionals make buying decisions today is similar to the approach most consumers take. They do their own online research, reaching out to suppliers only after they have completed their comparison shopping and made their selections.
But the vast majority of purchasing decisions are made early in design cycles. Electronics components and semiconductor suppliers that don’t influence design engineers early in their journeys are at significant risk of missing out on new product introduction opportunities.
Yet fewer than a fourth (23%) of the Supplyframe survey respondents said they can identify and engage with newly active design cycles, where the vast majority of purchasing decisions are made. This means that more than three-fourths of suppliers lack this capability. Furthermore, of the active cycles they can engage or track, 44% of the survey respondents said that they have a limited ability to influence their customers’ journey. This highlights the alarming level of risk that suppliers today face in light of the consumerization of work – and the huge opportunity that these companies have to better support their customers’ buying journeys.
Immature Customer Data Management Techniques Are Ripe for Improvement
The research suggests that companies may lack visibility into customer design cycles – and, thus, influence in customer purchasing decisions – due to data management challenges.
Most (56%) survey respondents indicated that they apply relatively immature customer insights management techniques based on hard-to-access data and simple segmentation. More than a third (38%) said that they segment customer data based on historical purchase patterns and demographic data, and 18% said that customer data is often siloed or difficult to integrate.
Meanwhile, fewer than a fifth (18%) said that they use modern marketing technology solutions that incorporate robust marketing automation (10%) or real-time analytics (8%).
Spending Strategies Suggest That Digital Advertising Delivers Measurable Results
The Supplyframe research indicates that most sales and marketing leaders who participated in the survey recognize the power and value of digital marketing advertising.
The vast majority (66%) plan to either maintain or increase their digital advertising budgets.
Close to half (46%) of the survey group said that they plan to maintain their budgets in this realm. A fifth (20%) said they expect to increase their digital advertising budgets. Only 34% of the survey respondents said that they are planning to decrease their budgets by 5 to 20%.
But Consumerization of B2B Commerce in Global Electronics Lags Largely Behind
The global electronics components and semiconductors sector has embraced digital. But the new research indicates that this sector lags in the consumerization of B2B commerce.
A significant 42% of respondents reported having made changes to their sales organization to support remote selling/inside sales. Even more (48%) said they are leveraging multiple digital channels to engage with their target markets. However, just 8% of the survey respondents indicated that they are employing advanced self-service commerce capabilities. This suggests these organizations are ready to advance to the next stage of customer engagement digital maturity.
The global electronics and semiconductor sector also allocates significantly less budget to marketing as a percentage of total revenues than do most business-to-business (B2B) enterprises. Eighty-five percent said that they are spending less than 3% of total revenue on marketing, while 32% said they are spending less than 1% of their total revenue on marketing. By comparison, the average marketing investment to total revenue ratio is 14% for manufacturers more generally.
Marketing and Sales Should Advance to the Next Stage of Customer Engagement Maturity
“Customer expectations and buyer behaviors in the electronics supply chain have changed,” said Flagg. “Semiconductor and electronics component suppliers need to adapt to this change by optimizing their digital channels to engage with – and influence – engineers at the right times, with the right information and online resources. This requires suppliers to become agile and personalized to meet the ever-changing needs of design engineers and procurement professionals.”
Electronics component and semiconductor suppliers can do that by engaging engineers with enhanced technical content such as 2D and 3D models or reference designs; expanding intelligent, self-service opportunities provided to potential buyers; delivering seamless cross-channel experiences; and finding ways to leverage the digital footprints that customers leave on their web properties or with their distribution partners to inform sales initiatives.
Suppliers that act on the intelligence that is available to them can win more business and greater loyalty from their highest-priority customers and engage with new buyers as they embark on new product introduction efforts that represent important opportunities for growth.