Buying online is the new normal for consumers buying in their personal lives, but it is becoming increasingly normal in the B2B world.
In fact, Forrester has confirmed that B2B eCommerce in the U.S. will hit $1.2 trillion by 2021, causing huge changes in how brands and wholesalers are selling. So, if you’re a brand or wholesaler without an eCommerce solution, you’re likely to get left behind.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why it’s time to put B2B eCommerce on your business radar.
B2B eCommerce means orders can be placed anytime, anywhere
The beauty of online shopping is it’s open 24/7 meaning your B2B buyers are free to shop whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them, even in the middle of the night!
It gives your buyers the freedom to place orders when it’s most convenient for them which is probably out of hours when they don’t have to deal with a shop full of customers. They also don’t have to wait for a sales rep to call.
Your B2B eCommerce solution must be mobile-optimized from the start, with your website working just as well on the smaller screen, to provide a seamless mobile eCommerce experience whichever device your buyer chooses to use.
Your B2B buyer is more likely to be a millennial
In the past 3 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of millennials that are B2B buyers and by 2025 there will be 73 million of them in the US workforce .
This is an important statistic for you, as this new generation of B2B buyers have never known a world without modern-day internet or email. Search engines have always been part of their daily life - millennials are digital natives – and as a result they automatically expect online ease of purchasing.
You need to understand their way of thinking. They expect to do their B2B buying via a 24/7, intuitive, self-service platform and if you don’t have one, it’s easy for them to go elsewhere.
Technology has improved to meet the unique requirements of B2B buyers
One of the reasons brands and wholesalers have been wary of B2B eCommerce until now, is because B2B customers are so different from B2C ones. They have customized pricing, require shipping to multiple addresses, and many people are involved in the buying approval process. They have also always had personal attention and guidance from your sales reps.
They have high expectations. But technology has improved so much that all these requirements can now be efficiently incorporated into your B2B eCommerce solution providing them with an even better customer buying experience than they had before.
Lots of B2B customers means lots of data
As brands or wholesalers, you’re dealing with many customers, managing all their data, keeping track of their purchase history, and more. You have a large amount of SKU’s, serve many different sectors, and may often deliver to different countries.
That is a lot of data to be managing manually and, as we all know, manual entry often leads to mistakes.
But, improvements in technological developments mean all this data can now be automated. It enables you to incorporate this data into your B2B eCommerce platform, presenting your range of products in an attractive, flexible e-catalog with a search facility to help customers find what they want quickly and easily.
A B2B eCommerce site is part of your Omnichannel experience
An omnichannel experience will be something your B2B customer expects from you. If they begin their order on a mobile but finish it on their laptop at home, the information they find on both must be the same. They expect the option to complete their order by self-service, full service or anywhere in between, and you need to provide the platform to enable that.
Another example of why B2B eCommerce must be on your radar is provided in recent research from Forrester. Their report shows that omnichannel customers buy more than offline-only customers, which is obviously good news for your sales.
In addition, a B2B eCommerce site allows you to replace expensive human support functions with automation, substantially reducing the costs involved in supporting offline-only customers.
Integration is a must for your B2B eCommerce site
To ensure your B2B eCommerce site completely meets all your customers’ expectations, it must be integrated with all your existing core platforms such as your back-office, ERP and CRM solutions.
This will provide them, and you, with a completely holistic overview of the whole sales process.
Can you think of a reason why you wouldn’t have B2B eCommerce on your radar?