David Bristow, Director of B2B E-Commerce integration experts On Demand Solutions, offers his thoughts on the changing trends in the B2B market and addresses four key truths that all B2B companies now need to consider to remain competitive in 2016.
1) At-Home Experience Impacts At-Work Decisions
The experiences and expectations your customers have when shopping at home are being brought to work. The average age of a B2B buyer is now under 35 years old and he or she will demand a very differentiated experience. They will switch seamlessly between online and offline channels, desktop and mobile, and businesses who take an offline first approach will end up missing out. It’s a fact that three-quarters of buyers will research at least half of their work purchases online because they don’t want to talk to a sales rep.
The most successful retail sites work because they personalise to how a buyer shops. A great B2B site should be no different, and the businesses that do this best will be best placed for the future.
2) Businesses Need A Strong Online Presence to Grow
For B2B sellers’ growth is the most significant measure of success because it demonstrates expanding market share. This is hard to do without a strong online presence – without it online marketplaces will continue to spring up to erode market share further.
But just having a website isn’t enough – virtually all B2B research is based on online searching so a B2B site needs to be easy to find in organic search results. Plus it must be easy to use when customers do find your site, and should be geared up to maximise order value with cross-sell and upsell recommendations.
3) Buyers Buy From Companies Who Make It Easy For Them To Do Their Job
It’s always been true that people buy from people they like. With B2B buyers it’s equally true that they buy from companies that make it easy for them to do their job.
Ultimately this means personalisation, including order processing with pre-saved information (no need to enter your details every time), relevant recommendations based on order history and account status, visibility into order status, and billing approvals, personalised home pages based on role, location, contract and buying patterns, and customised catalogues based on entitlements and contracts.
4) Instant Information is Expected as Standard
Real time E-commerce access to the back office system is now a vital component in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. This can be a real problem where ERPs are not integrated with a B2B organsation’s e-commerce system – where creating contracts, new pricing, onboarding and other core-e-commerce activities takes too long. For these organisations the gap in the ability to deliver services and the expectation of the speed of those services is widening as B2B experiences continue to get better and faster
On Demand Solutions’ ODSNet e-commerce solution can help your business to remain competitive in this changing B2B market – for a chat with an e-commerce expert about whether an end-to-end integrated solution is right for your business – email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01483 243479