B2B Custom Protective Case Market

Part
01
of two
Part
01

B2B Custom Protective Case Market

The people behind the buying decisions for custom protective case purchasing in the company couldn't be determined, mainly because the B2B buying journey is a complex one. However, using a B2B buying journey template provided by Gartner, the buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase include problem identification, solution exploration, supplier selection, and consensus creation.

Problem identification

  • The first buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase is problem identification. An organization should know it needs to get something done when faced with challenges.
  • In sorting these challenges, the problem is identified by making an executive presentation of it. During this presentation, salient questions are expected to be asked, while independent online research is carried out.
  • The case study of the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) serves as a good illustration. After the organization realized it had challenges keeping its fragile communication equipment safe during transit, the management knew there was the need to contact a custom protective case company.
  • The Custom Case Group (CCG) was contacted, and it was asked to develop "a specialized Pelican Storm Case outfitted with waterjet-cut ethafoam that snugly fit every piece of equipment and accessory."

Solution Exploration

  • The next buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase is the exploration of solutions.
  • As seen in the IMERT case study, after the organization identified its problem, it believed there should be a solution out there to nip it, and it finally reached out to the CCG.
  • However, solution exploration in the B2B buying journey takes more than reaching out to a singular company. It accounts for processes such as web search, group diagnostic deployment, buying consultant discussions, visits to suppliers websites, sharing of Web content, and requests for proposals (RFP) creation.
  • In the solution exploration of businesses to solve their problems, customers are hardly influenced by sellers in their decision-making.
  • According to the recent research by Gartner on B2B buying journey, out of B2B customers surveyed, 27% research independently online, and 18% offline when they are considering a purchase. About 22% meet with the buying group, while only 17% spend their time "to meet with potential suppliers."
  • In the IMERT case study, the buying process involved the CCG getting contacted with "a request to create custom cases that would protect essential communication equipment during their responses." From the preceding, it appears that IMERT had explored all possible solutions before contacting the CCG to make their request known, suggesting the limited influence CCG, as a supplier, has on the purchasing decision of the client.

Requirements Building

  • The next buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase is the requirements building.
  • This process is that junction that the business asks itself the question, "what exactly do we need the purchase to do?"
  • The process involves RFP response comparison, buying-guide download of suppliers, online virtual video, expert consultation, and live supplier demo.
  • Businesses do not rely exclusively on the sales reps channel for this process. The digital age has made it possible to align in-person and digital channels to support decision-making in buying, making it a parallel process.
  • Therefore, B2B buying in this new age does not follow the "linear fashion of handoff from marketing to sales or digital to in-person."
  • The parallel process for requirements building helps answer the fundamental question of what the business needs the purchase to do. Besides, the notion out there is that suppliers' channels cannot be relied on to speak the truth.
  • As seen in the IMERT case study, it appeared the organization had answered this fundamental question themselves before reaching out to the supplier.

Supplier Selection

  • The next buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase is the supplier selection.
  • This buying process involves identifying the right supplier that can do what the business want. This process tends to result in a debate for the buying group.
  • Through digital channels, businesses can gather information independently across boards to streamline their selection of suppliers.
  • According to Gartner's research, "the amount of time spent with any sales rep accounts for only 5% or 6% when buyers are comparing multiple suppliers."
  • In using the digital channels, what businesses look for is the availability of quality information, supplier's competency, the buying process (often referred to as the ease of buying or 'buyer enablement'), and the results of job completion.
  • For instance, a custom protective case company, such as Pelican, has over 65% of traffic to its website from search engines like Google. Traffic also comes from referral platforms such as Talk Bass, Indeed, 'Blessthisstuff,' and others, suggesting that businesses gather information independently to select the right supplier.

Validation

  • The next buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase is validation.
  • Because "B2B buying journey is hard" and may involve a few decision-makers, validation is needed for the selection of supplier(s).
  • Businesses want to be sure they have made the right decision and may require more information from sales reps to convince them entirely.
  • Just like in the IMERT case study, even though the organization specified what it wanted (custom cases for protection of communication gadgets), the development of a specialized Pelican Storm Case was a collaboration between the buyer and the supplier.

Consensus Creation

  • The final buying process businesses undertake before making a custom protective case purchase is consensus creation to make the purchase.
  • Everyone needs to get on board because the buying journey is not in any linear order.
  • IMERT is made up of a team of "highly sophisticated and influential network of doctors, logistics coordinators, safety specialists, and beyond." It can be assumed that it was after representatives of everyone on this team were on the same page that the CCG was brought into the picture.
  • It is after having everyone on board that purchase is made.

Buying Decisions

  • Many B2B buying journeys are complex, and as a result, they "involve six to 10 decision-makers."
  • The complexity of the B2B buying journey is attested to by B2B customers surveyed by Gartner, which indicated that over 75% consider their purchases as either very difficult or complicated.
  • Where the B2B buying journey for custom protective case purchase involves a non-structured business, the decision-making process is carried out by that person calling the shot.
  • For a nonprofit business like the IMERT, the person(s) behind the buying decisions for custom protective case purchasing is not available. Nevertheless, the assumption is that it may take the entire board of the organization to make such buying a decision.

Research Strategy

We started our findings by looking for a B2B buying journey template for a custom protective case purchase. In the unavailability of such, we relied on the B2B buying journey template of a "global leading research and advisory company" based in the US.

The template encompasses six steps in a B2B buying journey. We described each step and then provided insights through the use of a case study on how IMERT (a custom protective case B2B buyer) engaged the CCG (a custom protective case B2B supplier) on the buying process before making a custom protective case purchase.

We also used the online traffic to the website of another US-based company, Pelican, as an example of how buyers use the digital channel to evaluate suppliers and streamline who or not to engage.

To determine who makes the buying decisions for custom protective case purchasing in the company, we went through sites of companies that patronize these products, such as Microsoft, Fujitsu, and Boeing. Our purpose was to find a description of offices or departments in charge of such acquisitions. Unfortunately, no such description was provided.

Our second attempt was to review corporate client testimonials on the websites of suppliers of these products. Our purpose was to find out the official designation of anyone giving the testimonial on behalf of the company, with the hope that such a person should wield some influence in the buying decision of such a company. Unfortunately, again, there were no such corporate client testimonials on the supplier websites we navigated.

Our last attempt was to analyze manufacturer directory websites of custom case suppliers (such as IQS directory) for customer reviews and find out the designated office of the person giving the review on behalf of corporate clients. Despite the mention of the availability of customer reviews on the website of IQS, none was available.

It is our conclusion, based on Gartner's research, that the non-availability of this information on any of these sources is due to the complexity of the B2B buying journey as it has to do more with a collective effort, instead of a linear approach.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

B2B Custom Protective Case Market: Buyer's Journey

For brands, making a reusable, custom case is linked to higher costs, which are almost always more expensive than one-off plastic. The challenges that brands research the most regarding purchasing reusable packaging include the inability to charge a premium, incorrect popular perceptions of sustainability, and the lack of alignment around sustainability goals through the value chain.

Conducting research before purchasing

  • The main reason why companies are looking into purchasing custom protective cases is the fact that around 25% of consumers today are actively seeking out to purchase brands that are offering a more sustainable footprint.
  • The challenges that brands research the most regarding purchasing reusable packaging are as follows: inability to charge a premium (67% of brands), incorrect popular perceptions of sustainability (57%), lack of alignment around sustainability goals through the value chain (48%), inadequate consumer/customer demand (48%), comparatively high cost of preferable packaging materials (43%), lack of a common understanding of sustainable packaging (43%), inadequate supply of preferable packaging materials (38%), and inadequate recycling/composting infrastructure (33%).
  • For brands, making a custom reusable, cutome case is linked to higher costs,, which are almost always more expensive than one-off plastic. For brands, it will be around 1% on the regular cost, while for manufacturers it will be around 10%.
  • To be able to win approval from necessary business stakeholders regarding purchasing reusable packaging, the buyer needs to do the following: win support / initial review, assemble internal teams and coordinators, gain external support, collate data on packaging use and disposal (Waste Regs), create KPIs, and produce an action plan.

Choosing companies/products

  • A buyer's journey can take up to 18 months, or longer for bigger companies, when it comes to switching from regular product packaging to a reusable case. The main obstacles that will prolong the buyer's journey are the quality of the shelf life, the product itself and its specifications, whether there is food safety that needs to be considered, and how it travels.
  • To manage the transition to a more sustainable packaging future, buyers of smaller companies oftentimes need government support as there is a lack of resources to do so.
  • Whilst choosing a manufacturer, large companies are consulting Loop, a zero-waste platform that helps manufacturers develop refillable or waste-free packaging for a small fee.
  • To implement a reusable case product as part of the packaging, the companies in the running will be judged on the following: management of the production scheme, type of reusable packaging offered, volume of units required along with pricing, transport and logistics considerations, scale of operations, tracking, managing loss, cleaning and refurbishment if needed, and the review progress.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "to meet with potential suppliers."
  • "what exactly do we need the purchase to do?"
  • "linear fashion of handoff from marketing to sales or digital to in-person."
  • "the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6% when buyers are comparing multiple suppliers."
  • "B2B buying journey is hard"
  • "involves six to 10 decision-makers."
Quotes
  • "a specialized Pelican Storm Case outfitted with waterjet-cut ethafoam that snugly fit each and every piece of equipment and accessory."
  • "a request to create custom cases that would protect essential communication equipment during their responses."
  • "highly sophisticated and influential network of doctors, logistics coordinators, safety specialists and beyond"