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B2B firms reaping supply chain benefits from social media

5th Apr 2012
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B2B firms that are using social media to suport supply chain are creating better customer experiences and reaping benefits - but few are embracing it as yet.

Media agency Kemp Goldberg Partners and IDG Research Services surveyed 150 B2B customers and found more than half of respondents were either completely unaware of how their primary supply chain providers use social media or thought suppliers and vendors were not using social media to interact with customers.

Additionally, one third of those surveyed said they would perceive their supply chain suppliers and vendors more positively if they were to use social media to engage with them, said the report, whilst 40% use social  media to keep informed of industry news and trends, and vendor-related information including pricing, product descriptions and engaging with experts. The results show there is an opportunity for vendors to help their customers make better buying decisions through social media, said the agency.

David Goldberg, principal at Kemp Goldberg Partners, said: “The flow of information up and down any supply chain between customers and vendors is critical to sales, fulfillment, service and relationship building. We wanted to understand, from the customer's point of view, how social media is being applied by their suppliers and vendors to enhance these activities

“Although social CRM adoption has been low and slow, we found that those suppliers and vendors who currently use social media have experienced real value, such as more customer satisfaction, loyalty and references, as well as better customer service and higher purchase levels or frequency.”

The report outlined privacy and confidentiality as biggest concerns regarding the use of social media to interact with supply chain vendors but also showed that by using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, vendors can better strengthen customer relationships. Six out of 10 respondents cited mainstream social networking sites as an extremely or very valuable means of interacting with supply chain vendors Facebook use most (57%), followed by LinkedIn (30%) and Twitter (15%).

Janet King, GM/VP at IDG Research Services, said: “The research shows that while the use of social media channels to interact with customers is still developing, vendors who leverage these channels can have a fairly significant impact on customer perceptions.

“Opportunity exists to engage with customers not only on mainstream services like Facebook and Twitter but through private communities, vendor wikis and blogs. Engaging with customers through these channels helps vendors to not only inform the buying decision but join the conversation.”

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