Online B2B sales are exploding, with brands and wholesale distributors investing considerable resources to get on board. With large orders being made online and a need for improved customer satisfaction, the advantages of wholesale eCommerce continue to increase.
However, many businesses are failing to reap the benefits of this valuable digital channel. When it comes to wholesale and B2B eCommerce, there are many misconceptions about what it takes to succeed.
Here we debunk some eCommerce myths and give you the real truth…
1. If you build it – they will come
Forrester forecasts that by 2023, B2B eCommerce will reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US. Given this, brands and wholesalers cannot escape the need to set up an online wholesale shop.
But there’s no guarantee that buyers will immediately use it. Some may be resistant to change preferring a face-to-face experience; others need help getting started and some simply haven’t heard of your new B2B eCommerce solution.
A user-friendly experience is paramount for successful adoption, but there is so much more that must be done:
- Promote through all means – your sales reps, support center, via email or any other channel. This is not a one-time task; it should be done regularly.
- Make the benefits clear for your buyers - it will help them perform their jobs faster and better; now they have the freedom to order anytime, anywhere.
- Simplify on boarding by providing hands-on training sessions with your field reps, on the phone with your support team or using online tutorials.
- Make support a priority, with super simple ways to get help such as online chat directly on your B2B eCommerce portal, or on the phone.
- Offer incentives to drive adoption, with special promotions and offers available just online.
- Monitor cart abandonment – this is when buyers add items to the cart but do not submit the order. It could happen for various reasons, but regardless, you must be proactive about it, or lose sales. Let your reps and support team follow up on abandoned carts to help buyers complete the purchase.
2. B2B sales reps are no longer needed
B2B online selling has brought about major changes - specifically for sales reps. But although 86% of B2B buyers prefer self-service for re-orders, 76% still want to speak with a sales rep when researching and purchasing a new product.
Selling channels are converging into an mixture of face-to-face selling and online self-service highlighting the importance of viewing a complete buyer journey.
As customers move to self-serve buying, sales reps are free to use their extra time in other ways – moving on to a far more consultative and business advisory role. Sales reps play an important role in the onboarding phase. When it comes to promoting your online store, your field reps are your best promotional tool, ‘hand-holding’ customers through the adoption phase and offering help and support where required.
Acting as brand ambassadors, they can focus on new product sales, up-sell and cross-sell, offer business advice, handle complex or large-scale orders, and more. B2B sales reps will always be needed, just in a different role.
3. An e-catalog is all you need to sell online
An attractive e-catalog is an important part of online selling but a wholesale eCommerce app has to do more than just show pictures.
Customer-specific pricing is common in the B2B space and, contrary to popular belief, can be easily managed with the right B2B eCommerce software. Integrations with ERP systems and other back office software will provide much needed data for your buyers and enable buyer-specific experiences with individual catalogs, pricing, order history and more.
Remember buyers are professionals doing their job. Function is just as important as form (maybe even more so…). They need complete order history, access to inventory data, and multiple shipping methods. E-payment integration is needed sometimes, as well as promotions that are relevant just for them. All of these and more are must–have features for your B2B eCommerce platform to facilitate your customers buying journey.
4. B2B buyers don’t need a mobile experience
This one is simply not true. The new millennial B2B buyers have grown up in a mobile digital environment and totally expect a seamless mobile experience, on par with a B2C one.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, 80% of B2B buyers use their mobile for work purchases, with 70% having increased their mobile usage significantly over the past few years, and 60% expecting this usage to continue to increase. The theory that B2B buyers don’t need mobile just doesn’t hold up.
A mobile B2B eCommerce solution gives the ability to place orders anytime, anywhere, even shelf-side. Easy access to the product e-catalog and purchase history makes for quick re-orders, as does using a mobile device to scan barcodes and add items to the cart.
Mobility is a must.
5. Once I’ve set up my online platform, I can forget about it
The flexibility of your online sales platform is not a one-time requirement. It needs to be agile with the ability to constantly adapt without the need for custom development every time a change in sales processes is needed.
B2B eCommerce isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it will become even more competitive in the future. Your business will need to adapt and change with the times, so staying on top of best practices and trends of the B2B sphere will be critical for ongoing viability and success.
About The Author