In part two of our Real-Time Pricing Engine blog series, we look at why omnichannel price consistency is crucial, why it’s difficult for companies to achieve and how to make it a reality with the right cloud-native toolset.
“Eighty percent of buyers have a formal goal for increasing purchasing through the digital commerce channel, with the average goal being that digital commerce should make up 49% of all transactions, up from an actual value of 25% in 2020.”
B2B customers have come to expect a consumer-like experience from their suppliers – particularly as it pertains to price. Despite the inherent complexity of B2B pricing, customers expect that prices accurately reflect market conditions, their relationship with the supplier, the specifics of each particular order, and prices that are instantaneously available – even for large, complex quotes.
A core tenet of mirroring the consumer experience for B2B buyers is to serve up a consistent price in each channel – online, at the branch counter, on the phone or in-person with their account rep. Just as easily as a customer inside a Dick’s Sporting Goods can pull up dickssportinggoods.com on their phone to cross-check prices, a B2B buyer can now instantaneously price compare online whether they are speaking with a field sales rep, customer service, or ordering online.
Determining what price to publish in various scenarios across multiple B2B channels is of course complicated. It often requires the execution of a complex price build or to discount to the appropriate net price based on a set of well-defined price rules. Layer in the need to update pricing quickly as the market, competitors, or other factors necessitate, and the complexity will quickly overwhelm any pricing team with only manual tools at their disposal.
According to Gartner, B2B companies must “employ AI-driven, real-time and value-based pricing engines, which can consider competition, customer profile, stock availability, etc. to come up with the best price for each buying situation.”
With this in mind, let’s dig into some specifics.
Why Real-Time Price Consistency Across Channels is Easier Said Than Done
The rise of digital commerce has taxed even the most highly equipped pricing teams as they struggle to fight off competitors and build brand loyalty. Price transparency is now commonplace in B2B due to eCommerce ubiquity and thus maintaining competitive and consistent pricing is impossible if it takes weeks or months to update. While digital is the fastest growing channel and commands the most attention, it is only one piece of a larger pie. The more traditional sales channels aren’t going away, and many B2B companies still struggle to respond quickly enough to pricing triggers (anything that requires prices to change) to keep those channels in order.
Once predictable and manageable, pricing triggers now happen much more frequently. If a B2B company’s chief competitor slashes its price or a supplier raises theirs, time is of the essence to enact an appropriate price response. Trouble is, manual tools and legacy processes often take 90 days at minimum to push out a price change in just one channel. It’s not uncommon for the process to take up to four months. Think about receiving that pricing trigger, determining the optimal course of action, manually calculating a price update on a spreadsheet, routing that change for approval over email, and finally, publishing a new price on your eCommerce site. If you’re lucky, your competitor’s price hasn’t changed by the time this process is complete, or you haven’t received a new cost already.
But, again, this is only one piece of the puzzle. Buyers interact with sellers over multiple channels. They may even start an order on a digital site, then complete it over the phone with a sales rep. Per Gartner, only a “seamless omnichannel experience … enables the customer to choose the channel of interaction and receive a consistent experience without having to repeatedly reestablish the context of the deal.”
How do you ensure that sales reps have the most up-to-date price that accounts for recent customer interactions online? When all that effort has been expended to make an eCommerce price change, is there a mechanism for automatically updating every other channel simultaneously? Furthermore, as prices change in various channels, can you ensure that prices remain rational? Meaning, that new or small customers don’t get more favorable pricing than larger, well-established customers? Or, that premium products aren’t sold for lower prices than mid- to low-tier alternatives? The answer for most B2B companies is no – there are too many disparate tools and stakeholders to account for – and the net result when pricing is inconsistent and irrational is a poor customer experience, leading inevitably to lost business.
How to Realize Omnichannel Consistency
With a robust, REST-based API service like Zilliant Real-Time Pricing Engine™, this muddy picture gets a lot clearer. Our latest product innovation performs complex calculations in milliseconds and delivers prices to eCommerce, CPQ, CRM or any other system, in real-time, thereby solving both ends of the dilemma. It easily scales to the high volume of pricing calls that the digital channel requires while ensuring that prices across channels are consistent and rational. Sales reps are relieved of the awkward conversations that occur when the price they quote out of CPQ is higher than the price their customer just saw on the web site.
Real-Time Pricing Engine goes beyond simply connecting and communicating changes between separate channels. It can be relied upon to execute dynamic price calculations (or real-time price builds) in response to calls from any commercial system, incorporate an unlimited number of disparate data sets into the pricing engine, perform complex calculations on demand, and enable real-time price delivery back into commercial systems.
It can even serve as a company’s pricing system of record when combined with Zilliant Price Manager™ and Zilliant Price IQ®, ensuring omnichannel price consistency independent of inflexible or easily taxed legacy systems.