PROS research finds that nearly two-thirds of UK businesses already have a digital transformation underway and believe eCommerce benefits are significant, despite higher than average cultural resistance to digital channels
PROS® (PRO), a provider of AI-powered solutions that optimise selling in the digital economy, today announced the findings of its global survey into digital buying and selling trends. “The Future is Now: Technologies Shaping Commerce in the UK” examines how digitalisation is changing the buying experience and sellers’ perceptions of technologies that are enabling it. The global study, conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of PROS, examines the expectations and digital initiatives of more than 700 B2B decision makers including more than 100 from the UK. The respondents work for B2B businesses that sell to buyers across a variety of industries, including discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, wholesale distributors and services.
“The digital economy has created a changing marketplace that’s put more power into buyers’ hands,” said PROS Chief Marketing Officer Celia Fleischaker. “Customers now have greater expectations of their vendors, including transparency and frictionless buying experiences.
“As part of the digital transformation initiatives that 64 percent of responding UK-based organisations have already started, the highest percentage globally, eCommerce and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving significant changes in how organisations operate,” Fleischaker noted. “Although the majority see these technologies as advantageous, mastering personalised customer experiences and offering real-time dynamic pricing across channels will be key to unlock their revenue-generating potential.”
Adjusting to the Digital Economy
Digital trends are playing out across all regions surveyed, yet in nuanced ways. UK respondents share similar optimism about the impact of eCommerce and AI compared to other regions and had comparable digital transformation initiatives underway or planned.
The survey found that the shift to a digital buying experience is creating three primary pain points in the UK: maintaining consistent customer experiences, providing consistent product catalogues across channels, and a cultural resistance to supporting digital purchase initiatives. Nearly half of UK respondents said they were more likely to encounter cultural resistance to supporting digital purchase channels, 80 percent higher than their peers in Germany and 36 percent higher than respondents in France.
Despite the challenges they may encounter, more than half of UK respondents believe that eCommerce will help them reach more customers, satisfy customer expectations for self-serve buying, and reduce overhead costs.
Charting a New Path Forward with eCommerce
eCommerce is an increasingly important channel for businesses, as it serves customer needs by providing a self-service buying experience, while also enabling organisations to more easily scale. According to the study, there is almost universal agreement among participants that eCommerce provides a competitive advantage, as 72 percent of respondents perceive it as advantageous. Responding UK businesses are aligned with their peers globally that a majority of their sales will come from eCommerce within five years. They are, however, starting from a different point. In fact, 65 percent of responding UK businesses believe more than half of their sales will come from eCommerce within the next five years, more than quadrupling the 14 percent achieved at present by respondents.
Although the opportunities created by eCommerce are significant, responding organisations have concerns that must be addressed as they adjust to the new normal. Maintaining updated pricing, maintaining competitive pricing, and protecting price attainment are the top three concerns that responding UK companies express.
Rethinking Technology Initiatives
Businesses are in the process of transforming to meet the requirements of the new digital economy. With 35 percent of UK surveyed companies planning future digital transformation projects in addition to the majority that have projects in progress, transformation will be underway within the next few years for almost all responding businesses – leaving a mere one percent of respondents without any planned initiatives.
Participating organisations recognised the importance of digital transformation, as nearly seven-in-ten respondents think that each element of digital strategy is either very or extremely important. More than half of these companies believe their organisation is above average or excellent in their use of technology. However, the majority of respondents have not yet implemented all of the technologies they feel are necessary, indicating that those organisations may not be as far along in their transformation journey as they believe.
AI Enhancing Connections with Customers
Companies are also considering new digital options, including AI, as evidenced by more than half – a full 52 percent -- of UK respondents indicating they need to invest more in the technology.
One of the most intriguing use cases for AI lies in marketing and sales, where its value is rapidly accelerating. Respondents consider the ability of AI to predict customer needs as the most important way that it will impact sales, followed by automating orders and optimising pricing for buying scenarios. As a result of its impact, 62 percent of UK respondents believe AI will be a high priority for marketing and sales activities within two years, compared to 30 percent of respondents who view it as a high priority today.
PROS Holdings, Inc. (PRO) provides AI-powered solutions that optimize selling in the digital economy. PROS solutions make it possible for companies to price, configure and sell their products and services in an omnichannel environment with speed, precision and consistency. Our customers, who are leaders in their markets, benefit from decades of data science expertise infused into our industry solutions.
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements about the functionality and benefits of AI-powered solutions to organizations generally as well as the functionality and benefits of PROS software products. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are based upon PROS historical experience with AI-powered solutions and its current expectations of the benefits of AI-powered solutions for organizations that implement and utilize such software. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described herein include the addressability of an organization’s AI-powered solution needs, the risks associated with PROS developing and enhancing products with the functionality necessary to deliver the stated results and the risks associated with the complex implementation and maintenance of AI-powered solutions such as PROS software products. Additional information relating to the uncertainty affecting the PROS business is contained in PROS filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements represent PROS expectations as of the date of this press release. Subsequent events may cause these expectations to change, and PROS disclaims any obligations to update or alter these forward-looking statements in the future whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.