Consider being a mom-and-pop shop in America in the early 1980s. At the other end of town, a massive mall has unexpectedly opened up. Forty-plus years later, we’ve all seen how the majority of these stories ended. With the emergence of Walmart, Costco, and Target, the tradition of local, family-owned businesses began to dwindle swiftly. Why are we discussing this now? Because the e-commerce platform is to our generation what malls were in the 1980s.
As your average B2B buyer becomes more technologically sophisticated, the need to transition your company to a more effective, efficient, and scalable e-commerce offering cannot be overstated. Homegrown methods that have worked for some organizations are adequate up to a point, but because the name of the game these days is scaling, oftentimes these homegrown systems simply lack the capabilities to maintain consistent expansion cost-effectively.
Those companies still sitting on the sidelines of digital commerce because they believe their market is more traditional and that their buyers aren’t interested in executing some part of their engagement online, are placing themselves behind competitors and losing out on cost-savings and revenue growth. This is truly impacting their bottom line.
Landscape and Trends in B2B Commerce
Scaling up is more than just a math problem. It also entails using new technologies and solutions that will allow your digital commerce company to maintain its ground and hold its own in a sea of competition, ongoing innovation, and technological disruption. These current changes in the B2B commerce scene will help you understand why now is the time to adapt.
Raised Expectations for More Personalized Online Experiences
This is a trend driven by both B2B buyers and the evolving technology that underpins digital commerce. Because businesses frequently have repeat consumers, having predictive algorithms allows a company to build unique purchase patterns for each buyer. This adds another element of satisfaction to the customer’s experience and encourages them to make repeat and periodic purchases.
The Path of Least Resistance
While there are other advantages to investing in B2B e-commerce, these three stand out owing to their relevance for a wide range of B2B setups rather than specific firms.
- Reduce costs across all channels
Significant cost savings can be realized by replacing manual operations that require staff’s time and also introduce the possibility of producing errors. This is true for all channels, including phone, email, 3rd party marketplaces, DTC, and even face-to-face interactions. Having the correct technology foundation that can enable efficiencies across your channels is paramount to managing costs, effort, and risks.
Today’s modern eCommerce platforms can assist firms in replacing manual operations without investing heavily in customization and maintenance. This is especially true for platforms that are designed to serve B2B sellers right out of the box, allowing firms to get up and running quickly. More orders can be captured through the digital channel, resulting in less reliance on homegrown or legacy systems, which are not only costly to maintain, but have the added burden of security and privacy risks.
- Create easy-to-use purchasing experiences to improve customer satisfaction
Because the majority of B2B buyers are corporate representatives who are frequently repeat clients, the time required to conduct these transactions should ideally be low. The emphasis should be on providing efficient experiences for busy buyers, allowing them to find what they need online without having to call a sales or service representative.
E-commerce platforms, with the capacity to give customized navigation and precise product information, aid in the creation of a smooth path for B2B buyers. They can also help to reduce the time it takes to identify the proper product by using straightforward catalog browsing and simplifying repeat orders with reorder buttons and saved order lists.
Assisting consumers in discovering products and answering queries on their own time will result in a degree of customer satisfaction that will set your company apart from the competitors. The laggards that don’t embrace the efficiencies of technology and force clients to be reliant on middlemen and sales pitches will see their slice of the market shrink.
- Make your customer adoption strategy even better
Another significant advantage of e-commerce systems is the ability to track and optimize customer uptake. With the ability to see how buyers use and engage with the site, insights may be used to tailor the site to their specific needs.
Buying behavior data is very important. The good news is analytics may be tracked down to the individual level, and route analytics can be used to visualize their user journeys through the site. Furthermore, buying trends can be examined throughout different times of day to acquire a better understanding of their purchasing habits.
High customer adoption rates contribute to a higher margin and a higher return on investment (ROI) on marketing initiatives.
How Do You Ensure the Success of Your E-Commerce Business?
Businesses who are considering Investing in B2B e-commerce, whether for the first time or to improve the performance of their channel, should be aware of these helpful hints.
- Implement a cross platform strategy
Because individuals are more tech-savvy these days, there is a high probability that potential prospects and clients will be engaging with your company on more devices than just their desktop. They may look for things they need on their phones or other portable devices, and then complete the order later from their workstation. This is why a company should implement a cross-channel e-commerce strategy to ensure that its content and catalog are available to potential customers across numerous devices and that experience is consistent.
- Be up front on costs & offer flexibility
Being upfront and transparent about the overall cost at all stages of the purchasing process is important. Typically in B2B, different clients are assigned different “price books” (discounts) based on purchase volume. With B2B, people could be buying things that are difficult to ship (think heavy industrial parts) or take time to assemble ahead of time (shipping time). So giving the client the flexibility to select the shipping method that saves them the most can be very important.
Why Are E-Commerce Platforms So Important Right Now?
In today’s B2B environment, your company’s customer-facing platforms must effectively hold the attention of potential buyers while meeting their expectations for world-class customer care and customized purchasing experiences. Custom configuring and quoting is also a very valuable B2B eComm component. Investing in an e-commerce platform that can manage all of these criteria is critical for businesses looking to scale and become future-ready. Fortunately, you can work with experts like Friends of Commerce to ensure your digital transformation makes an impact on your business.
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.