Why B2B Communities in Retail Matter

In our hyperconnected, digital world, consumers rely on their peer networks for everything. From advice on which restaurant to choose to deciding on their next shoe purchase on Zappos, people trust their friends—according to Nielsen, 83 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. And it’s not just friends and family—the same study found that 66 percent of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online. Combined with the popularity of social media, it’s clear that communities are extremely powerful when an individual is considering a purchase.


Why aren’t we taking a page from consumers and mimicking the community approach in the B2B retail world? A B2B community based model means connecting designers, retailers and suppliers through the discovery, design, development and delivery of products. It fosters a less linear development process than what currently is in place on most retail backends; instead, a community approach more closely mimics how consumers actually buy products, allowing for collaboration with the entire retail ecosystem from the start of development, leading to joint idea generation and co-creation.


Creating a strong retail community that connects designers, retailers and suppliers can drive a number of benefits that allow brands to thrive in the New Retail Economy, including:


  • More creative inspiration. By collaborating with your retail colleagues – in a virtual, online community early on in the development process — you’ll find more ideas for your next innovative product. Additionally, a B2B retail community engages an often underleveraged group in the product development process: suppliers. You can incorporate their input right from the start on what materials strike the right balance between cost and quality, while meeting specific market demands. This means less back and forth on what designs can and can’t be made into a reality later on in the process, as you already account for what materials are realistic for your ideas.
  • More supplier options. Not only does having a community let you tap suppliers for co-creation at the start of product development, but you also end up with broader access to a vetted supplier network. This means that if you’re looking for new products, or worst case, an existing supplier falls through, you have options you can trust, ready for you to work with.
  • Faster time to market. Through co-creation you not only get more innovative ideas but also make the development process more seamless. Incorporating suppliers early on means they can weigh in on what you’re developing and how it might actually become a reality. This means fewer issues and delays in the development process (as often happens in an old-school, linear process). Additionally, the entire development process is sped up if you power your community through a digital platform—more virtual showrooms and shopping, less of a need for time-consuming trips overseas to see product. And there is less need for costly samples.

The current linear and slow-moving retail product development model is soon to go the way of the dinosaurs; the next big thing in retail is community. This new model enables retailers to make faster, more intelligent decisions that drive innovation, speed to market and profitability.

Want to develop your own B2B community for your retail ecosystem? Learn how Bamboo Rose can help connect all the different parties you work with.