How Unilever is facing the challenges of the B2B market
The B2B market in Brazil and worldwide is undergoing an intense and accelerated transformation process, notable for implementing digital solutions that create new sales and relationship channels and increase companies’ reach and capillarity.
Thus, brands have reached more customers and new markets, creating strategies that generate synergies with companies complementing their offerings, which multiplies benefits, products, and services to the end customer.
The challenges in this new era are technological transformation, modernization of business models, and the boldness to create new omnichannel strategies and invest in B2B marketplaces.
Unilever shows how the partnership with VTEX, innovation, and mindset change made it possible to make the most of great opportunities in different regions, through the right technology and the business digitalization between companies.
The collaborative B2B marketplace of Unilever Spain
Unilever is one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, with leading brands in the food, beverage, cleaning, hygiene, and personal care industry, and boasts over 400 brands in over 190 countries, selling products are used by more than 2.5 billion people every day.
The company has been betting on creating new forms of B2B relationships, such as Compre Ahora, a B2B marketplace in Spain implemented in partnership with VTEX. This marketplace offers the differential advantage of grouping, in a single place, several sellers that provide small retailers with the market’s main categories, which are also responsible for the logistics and payment operations.
An important feature of the Compre Ahora marketplace is to include products from other manufacturers on its platform, complementing Unilever’s offerings and creating a great number of possibilities for independent retailers.
“It’s a project we do in collaboration with other industries sharing the same pain points as Unilever, and by joining forces, we’re able to deliver a much better customer experience. It’s a relationship that is not merely transactional, but one of shared gains.”Iara Rodrigues, B2B Ecommerce Manager at Unilever Spain
Challenges in implementing Compre Ahora
One of the project’s challenges was to digitalize an already existing operation in conventional channels, with distributors who already had positive business relations with independent retailers and well-established processes. The transformation powered by the marketplace was expected to change the dynamics of these relations by offering new benefits. Therefore, the engagement of companies in this ecosystem has always been essential.
It is important to note that retailers in Spain operate mostly with lean structures. “Retailers do everything here — they buy, serve the end customer, replenish stocks, among other activities,” explains Iara Rodrigues.
According to the executive, a single, stable, and scalable platform optimizes business gains and expands product assortment, providing Compre Ahora customers with a one-stop-shop solution, based on the VTEX platform, where they can find everything for their business.
“It’s a recent project, which has been in operation for a few months in some regions. We started with the integration setup and are working on a pilot with some stores to bring stability to the operation. The results obtained so far are very positive and show that we are on the right track.”Iara Rodrigues, B2B Ecommerce Manager at Unilever Spain
Another relevant feature of the project was to preserve the customer’s relationship with distributors. In fact, it is the distributor that maintains the fulfillment operations, which prevents the marketplace from cannibalizing other channels.
The differential is that, even so, Compre Ahora preserves the entire history of transactions between distributors and retailers, mapping and understanding customers’ demands and needs and the market as a whole. Currently, the project is more focused on winning new retailers, and Unilever sees that clients are receptive to this new channel. The next expected steps are to scale Compre Ahora nationally by covering new regions of Spain.