The Voice of Digital Leaders in Manufacturing 2022: Commerce and Digital Adoption

This report provides essential insights into the actual digitalization progress of European manufacturers. For the first time, it includes the views of digital transformation and e-commerce executives themselves, providing B2B manufacturers with an honest and insightful source of benchmarking. A joint initiative of:

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What does digital transformation mean for the manufacturing industry in 2022?

Manufacturers that push their digitalization will invest up to 20% more in digital initiatives in 2022 than in the previous year. Leaders are already working cross-functionally and cross-departmentally to deliver higher customer satisfaction and customer lifetime value. They are embracing self-services, and are integrating partners, wholesalers, and other stakeholders into their digital solutions. But what about manufacturers who are yet to reach this level of digital maturity?

Why you should read this report:

  • It contains the expertise of more than 50 executives from international companies with annual revenues of more than 250 million euros.
  • It highlights challenges, goals and strategies condensed into hashtags and offers complementary insights from personal experiences and recommendations.
  • It serves as inspiration for the further development or realignment of customer-oriented, efficient and long-term digitalization initiatives.

Download the report!

Lisa Hellqvist
Managing Director
”The combination of statistics, open questions, recommended actions and expert insights makes this report a must-read for all manufacturers aiming to successfully digitalize their sales and service processes.”


Watch the latest recording:

The Voice of Digital Leaders in Manufacturing

Hosted: 10 May 2022

Do you want more insights? Happy reading!

What are the key findings of the report?

Global e-commerce has seen an unprecedented boom in the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for change in customer preferences and buying behaviors, as conventional buying options were limited, which led to accelerated digital adoption in the B2B world. And that came with its own set of challenges. Some manufacturers were more advanced and ready to quickly adapt; others painfully noticed the challenges of a weak and more rigid digital commerce infrastructure, ranging from not being found online, a dissatisfying customer experience to a lack of digital maturity and scarce resources.

  • European B2B manufacturers will invest up to 20% more in their digitalization initiatives in 2022 than in the previous year.
  • Up to 71% of the manufacturers surveyed are strongly ambitious and some (24%) are even aspiring to become market leaders through digitalization.
  • 56% have established basic structures for a company-wide digital strategy and roadmap.
  • Within the next 12 months, most of our survey respondents plan to deploy solutions geared towards simplifying the sales process both for the organization and its customers. 36% each want to implement CPQ (configure-price-quote) systems to sell complex products and digital customer portals with convenient self-service functions, while 37% want to invest in data platforms.
“Next year we will hear the roaring sound of silos tumbling down in B2B, thus facilitating true integrated digital services in customer portals. Within Evident we foresee that digital transformation in B2B is even more boosted by growing demands of the customers. The pressure on companies to transform the way they sell and deliver products and services will increase more and more. Customers are going to expect different digital services to be provided in an integrated manner.”

Herbert Pesch, VALTECH (Evident)

Digital transformation is more than just a trend

The report makes clear what manufacturers themselves think about digitalization: “Going digital is not only about connecting with the customer and partners, but also about connecting all departments and their processes, from production to sales.”

But what is the real state of Europe's manufacturers?

  • 47% say their digital initiatives are ambitious.
  • 44% say their digital maturity is currently on par with the competition.
  • 83% of manufacturers will invest more in digitalization in 2022.
  • 98% have digitalization efforts on the agenda.
  • 2% are already leaders in digitalization.
“To boost loyalty and long-term relationships that provide stable and profitable revenue streams, I always start with one main piece of advice: Take care that the executive team, marketing and sales are all on board and that the processes are simple and clear. And most important: the customer should be at the heart of everything, to provide seamless and convenient customer experiences across all direct- and indirect channels, worldwide.”

Gerrit Enthoven, Intershop

How are manufacturers implementing their digital transformation?

Digital reduces transaction costs, expedites service delivery, and improves the sales function. Through digitalization, companies can significantly increase sales performance with the help of productivity enhancement tools, advanced data analytics, and new sales channels. This report reveals what manufacturers are focusing on this year: They plan to deploy digital-first solutions like 360° customer view data platforms and digital customer portals to deliver enhanced value and experiences to their customers.

But what is the real state of Europe's manufacturers?

  • 38% of manufacturers are still running ad hoc initiatives initiated by different departments.
  • 36% of our survey participants are actively trying to connect digital services across departments and optimize the customer experience.
  • 12% of organizations already provide an easy and unified customer experience, integrating several digital self-services into their customer portal.
  • 40% of organizations have proactively allocated a budget to implement their digital strategy.
“Keep in mind what’s most important for your clients. Don’t step into the pitfall of having too many ambitions in a short period of time. We always advise our clients to initially focus on taking manageable steps in areas where you truly make a difference for your clients. And don’t forget to celebrate your success!”

Mascha Tamarinof, VALTECH (Evident)

What role does e-commerce play in the digital transformation?

With the increasing number of B2B customers who primarily want to utilize self-service and digital channels, manufacturers understand that the preference for online interactions is here to stay—and they need to adapt. Most of them have already invested in e-commerce solutions. This year, they can focus on integrated solutions that offer their customers a much better user experience, such as:

  • configure-price-quote (CPQ) systems to sell complex products
  • digital customer portals with convenient self-service functions that simplify business processes and increase efficiency and customer loyalty,
  • 360° customer view data platforms to help transform the online sales process into a data-driven engine, thus enhancing personalization, up-, and cross-selling to increase sales and profits.
“As customers' buying preferences shift toward outcomes over products, service is becoming a critical piece in the revenue model for businesses. The IoT enabled real time data comes with increased expectations of minimized downtime and maintenance interruptions. The customer will seek information online and also expect inventory and parts to be fully available; the information should be streamlined and transparent, which e-commerce is a catalyst for.”

Lisa Hellqvist, Copperberg

Expert recommendations for embarking on the digital transformation journey

For companies starting to mature digitally and getting ready to embark on their transformation journey, industry experts advise global planning and gradual implementation. They also recommend internal lobbying beforehand and then proceeding with small steps. A critical step is to get key decision-makers on board by emphasizing compelling success stories and sharing relevant data on how digital improves business performance.

Read more about the following tips in the report:

  • “Prioritize, start small and focus on your core business!”
  • “Define the strategy first!”
  • “Fix the foundation—don't reinvent the wheel. And if you have something unique, have a focus on that!”
  • “Really understand your customer needs, deploy in phases and spend time in the discovery phase to avoid surprises down the line!”
“Be flexible, be fast. Provide what your customers really need and differentiate your company from the competition. The technology is ready. Are you?”

Jerome Ciszewski, Intershop

We strongly believe that the findings give you a more in-depth description of where the industry is at, and that description is something we hope you can use in order to benchmark your own organization’s maturity level within digital adoption and commerce and sharpen your companies’ digital commerce plans and ambitions.

Watch the video to see how the report's findings were discussed and evaluated in a December 2021 webinar. You can find the full video on our YouTube channel. If you have any questions, the experts are always available for a discussion. Note that Evident is now part of the VALTECH company.

Our report co-authors

Lisa Hellqvist
Managing Director
VALTECH (Evident)
Herbert Pesch
Commercial Director
Gerrit Enthoven
Director Sales EMEA