The widespread global adoption of B2B e-commerce continues and will outpace B2C for the foreseeable future. In many cases most transactions are still being handled by traditional selling methods such as Telesales Reps or Account Managers. However smart B2B businesses are implementing digital strategies that enable them to improve efficiency, reduce manual admin and scale their business for profitable growth.
As millennials move into decision and buying making positions, they expect and demand the same intuitive experience they are used to in the B2C arena, which in turn is demanding a B2B multi-channel focus engaging with customers to provide a first-class experience.
Why should businesses be looking at B2B e-commerce?
Well firstly your customers are likely to want to be able to self-serve for re-orders, order tracking and on-line payments. They want to be able to see real-time inventory helping to improve order management and fulfilment. Secondly your competitors are already doing it, so you may need to play catch up. So that’s your customers and competitors covered, but what about what your business needs?:
- Open your doors to new markets and customers without the typical bricks and mortar costs
- Create a first-class experience for your customers so that buying from you becomes easy
- Centralise your products and sales management to reduce manual admin
- Enable customer self-service/self-management
- Facilitate real-time buyer/supplier relationships
- Maximise your investment in your ERP solution and unlock the potential of information flowing automatically to and from your website
- Improve scalability
- Improve operational efficiencies
- Turn your telesales staff into proactive Account Managers
What are the benefits of B2B e-commerce?
If you’re an experienced online user in your personal life, you’re probably already aware of the huge benefits an e-commerce site can offer. But when it comes to business, it’s a whole new ballgame and the benefits to businesses are considerable:
- Unlimited growth potential – open the door to new opportunities to boost top line revenue
- Conduct your business 24/7 eliminating the barrier of office hours and locations
- Easily manage currencies, language and payments across countries to reduce administration
- Deliver real time and accurate information from your ERP solution
- Exploit additional sales channels such as Amazon and eBay
- Make it easier for your customers to do business with you through connected devices, good product information and support content such as videos
- Optimise new customer acquisition with digital marketing techniques and SEO integration
- Analyse data to uncover and identify more opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell
- Increase customer loyalty by providing intuitive options for self-serve re-ordering, tracking, on-line payments etc.
According to research….
So if you’re still putting off adopting digital commerce for your business, take a look at some of these statistics from Forrester Research, they speak for themselves:
- Experts predict B2B e-commerce will reach $1 trillion by 2019 in the US alone
- 60-75% of people prefer to research purchases before engaging a salesperson
- Millennials primarily use mobile devices & social media to research products
- 73% of Millennials are involved in product/service decision making at businesses and are now the largest generation in the workforce
Historically B2B organisations have been slow to adopt digital commerce as many of the offerings have been designed with B2C in mind. B2B businesses need to take a customer-centric approach to reflect the experiences that buyers now have from sites like Amazon and eBay extending it beyond just an order-entry portal.
The B2B e-commerce model presents complications for personalisation, complex business rules and workflows which need to be translated to a seamless multi-channel experience. For this to happen businesses need to invest in digital transformation – are you ready?