Traditionally, B2B purchases included a complex sales process involving several contributors and decision-makers. This frequently convoluted process involved study, assessment, and stakeholder involvement, followed by more research, evaluation, and stakeholder engagement before reaching any final judgments.
While some B2B journeys are still this complex, the system is evolving. During the pandemic, face-to-face meetings and in-person activities were halted, therefore these channels for decision-making were closed. Many of us—even buyers—now have less time than ever before in the frenzied, chaotic world that has arisen over the last few years. This means that the previously time-consuming B2B purchase journey has been simplified.
Buyers must still go through basic processes in the purchasing experience, such as defining a business need, researching solutions, evaluating possibilities, and finally making a decision. The difference today is that purchasers are conducting more online research on their own than in the past, and this research cycle looks to be getting faster and more effective.
This is a drastic change from not even ten years ago.
When you needed a printer for your office, for example, you’d look through the circulars, phone a few places, maybe ask about the best costs, and then place your order. More than likely, you’d have a long-standing relationship with an “office supply guy” who would drop by on a regular basis to see if you needed paper or supplies. Now? You don’t need “a guy,” you just need the web! And what is the web full of? Office copier ratings! You can find the best copier in a matter of minutes, see who has the greatest advertised pricing, then make a phone call when you’re prepared to buy.
McKinsey revealed in an October 2020 study that 70 to 80 percent of B2B decision-makers favored digital or remote contacts over face-to-face meetings. The top three reasons were safety, cost savings on travel, and simplicity of scheduling. From locating new suppliers to ordering goods and services, digital interactions were favored at every point of the purchase cycle.
What Do Buyers Want From B2B Online Purchasing Channels?
- Optimized transactions
Companies now realize that simply having a website is no longer sufficient. To meet buyers’ demands and expectations, and to reduce their reliance on offline purchasing channels, e-commerce platforms must offer more than simple buy-and-sell operations.
As a result, many B2B organizations are entering what can be called the second stage of e-commerce maturity, in which improved online customer experience is the new priority. Not to mention that B2B buyers are also consumers accustomed to smooth B2C purchasing experiences. An enhanced user experience is now required for B2B online purchasing.
- A simpler buyer’s journey
In accordance with the consumerization trend, B2B buyers anticipate a better overall online purchasing journey. Many B2B purchasers have mentioned that their most recent transaction was tough. The intricacy of the buying process itself is a major cause for this, with B2B buying groups often consisting of 6 to 10 decision-makers, each of whom gathers information irrespective of the others.
With so many components, technology is the greatest approach to simplify the B2B buying experience. Sellers make the research period considerably easier for buyers by delivering the relevant information at the right moment.
Customer data platforms, customer relationship management systems, and creative management tools, as well as technology that unifies your marketing, sales, and experience teams, enabling team cooperation across numerous products, campaigns, and markets. These tools aid in the delivery of information and data, allowing vendors to provide customized, relevant information to purchasers at the correct time.
- Online sales platforms as information sources
Buyers want to be able to obtain information such as shipping and return information, payment terms, price, and invoicing online. Naturally, it’s no surprise that individuals nowadays prefer to get their info online. However, consider the impact that an online information portal could have on your organization even before making a purchasing choice.
Your online sales channel can also be used as a framework to host other critical sources of information that purchasers use throughout the information search stage of the purchasing process. Customer feedback, marketing content, and case studies are examples of this.
What Are The Advantages?
- Cost savings
Even in its most basic and fundamental form, e-commerce tackles the cost-savings issue by removing the time and resources required to take and manually add offline sales orders. Cost reductions can be gained even further with ERP-integrated e-commerce due to decreased time and effort necessary to monitor and synchronize online store data.
- Efficiency of transactions
If the main obstacles throughout the B2B purchasing process are data availability and order mistakes, ERP integration is the obvious solution. You can leverage Dynamics to pull real-time ERP data (such as inventory and product data) into your web store to keep your audience fully updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This detailed product data can also help to reduce order mistakes caused by improper products, inventory, or account record keeping.
- Customer satisfaction
When it comes to online purchases, there will always be a margin for error, and it is likely that you will not be able to supply all of the information that every single buyer may require online. This is why, in addition to addressing existing e-commerce difficulties to the best of your ability, it’s critical to work on an effective cross-channel strategy. By doing so, you can not only reduce the number of clients forced offline as a result of technical issues but also create a streamlined experience for those customers who choose to switch between online and offline channels.
Demonstrating that you can satisfy your buyers’ needs at various stages of ecommerce offers you a competitive advantage and increases your chances of getting chosen as a supplier in the first place. Furthermore, launching an e-commerce channel can assist your organization. By providing what your clients require online, you will reduce the pressure on your sales and support employees. This provides them more time to concentrate their efforts on expanding your customer base, target markets, and, ultimately, revenue.
Investing in an e-commerce platform is a win-win situation for both your company and your customers. Fortunately, you can work with experts like Friends of Commerce to ensure your digital transformation gets you there.
Ready to get started? Tell us a little bit about your company, the challenges you are looking to solve, and we’ll be in touch right away, and follow our blog for more tips and trends on digital transformation and B2B commerce.