With US B2B e-commerce sales showing no sign of slowing down – projected by Forrester to top $1.8 trillion by 2023, and still only accounting for approximately 17% of overall B2B sales – wholesale businesses are increasingly implementing B2B e-commerce software as the cornerstone of their multi-channel sales strategy.
In fact, spending on wholesale e-Commerce platforms continues to outpace the spending on B2C software by a factor of 2, with manufacturing and wholesale being the two industries that are generating most of the market growth. And it’s clear why. Most manufacturers and wholesalers still rely on homegrown systems and paperwork that support outdated processes, have limited accessibility, and are not delivering the seamless purchasing experience B2B buyers expect.
Rapidly changing distribution channel dynamics and increasing retail market fragmentation, are redefining wholesalers’ business models. Manufacturers and wholesalers must go beyond competing on price & availability and deliver differentiated multi-channel customer experiences.
Here are the top six business factors affecting the rapid adoption of wholesale e-commerce platforms.
1. Sell anytime while driving cost savings
In these challenging days where the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting our personal and professional lives, wholesale eCommerce is the most effective alternative to in-person sales. It lets your customers buy 24×7, all-year-round, regardless of external conditions – all they have to do is access your web or mobile storefront and place their order.
With a B2B wholesale eCommerce platform, wholesalers can reduce mounting order processing costs due to manual order entry, sales order errors, back orders resulting from insufficient inventory, and inefficiencies in handling customer inquiries. SAP, the ERP giant, estimates that the cost of entering and servicing orders, which can run as high as $150 per order, can drop to as low as $25 per order using B2B eCommerce software.
2. Gain strategic sales focus
Despite the push towards automation, building B2B relationships still relies heavily on your field sales reps, especially in the food & beverage, beauty, healthcare and other FMCG verticals. A wholesale eCommerce platform that serves all your B2B wholesale customers allows your reps to focus more strategically on developing and nurturing relationships with high-profile, high-value clients. Omni-channel commerce platforms that also support in-person sales automation provide reps cross-channel visibility into a customer’s buying patterns and preferences, top-selling items, slow-moving products, and outstanding debts – to increase sales rep effectiveness.
3. Extend your reach to new retail customers
The drive to expand your B2B customer base parallels your drive for growth. Using an online self-service B2B sales platform, which showcases your product catalog to prospective clients, and which offers an intuitive B2C-like experience for signup up, e-catalog browsing and customer specific payment options, will expand your reach to new customers in your existing and new markets (domestic and abroad).
4. Support and expand existing B2B relationships
The benefits that wholesale eCommerce platforms provide are not just a boon to sourcing new business. Wholesale commerce is integral to also supporting and expanding existing business partnerships. Tailoring upsell and cross-sell promotions to customers, and providing them with pricing discounts to buy online (vs. through their reps) are two examples of how to increase business with your existing clients. Furthermore, the accessibility of self-service ordering in between sales rep visits increases customer loyalty as well as total sales volumes.
5. Drive adoption of your platform
Transitioning existing B2B customers to a new self-service online platform can present challenges, but the benefits of an e-commerce platform often sell themselves. The best practices for increasing B2B eCommerce adoption include: compensating sales reps for online sales, aligning sales and marketing team goals, leveraging sales reps as change agents, communicating benefits to business customers and offering them convenient support, and leveraging trade promotions to guide business customers through their buying journey.
6. Improve customer experience & satisfaction
Lastly, wholesale eCommerce platforms can make a significant positive impact on customer satisfaction, driving improved loyalty to your business. Real-time visibility into product inventories, pricing, and shipping status, faster order delivery, less calls to customer service centers, anytime-anywhere accessibility for self-service ordering – will all lead to a better customer experience, ultimately elevating your B2B sales.
Best-in-class wholesale distributors and manufacturers are already implementing wholesale e-commerce software to drive sales growth and deliver a differentiated buying experience for their customers. Wholesalers and manufacturers that are not yet planning on jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon are putting the longevity of their business at risk.
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