September 3, 2021
We all know how important it is to create intuitive and consistent omnichannel experiences for the savvy end users of today, but one area that seems continually overlooked is B2B e-commerce. As a result, wholesalers and distributors miss opportunities to connect to clients and customers, build brand loyalty and successfully upsell.
Forrester finds that more than 30% of B2B buyers already make initial purchases through a digital channel, but many are looking for higher quality interactions that span online and offline worlds. In order to remain competitive today, B2B providers must invest in their e-commerce platform and create a compelling, consistent experience for customers across all devices.
E-commerce platforms provide a number of benefits, such as streamlining sales processes, removing manual data entry and double-handling of information, reducing order errors, and freeing up staff to work on more strategic and complex tasks. In addition, these solutions automate customer service and ensure users are supported around the clock.
Not so long ago it took months to implement a B2B e-commerce platform, whereas now this can be executed in a matter of weeks. Technology tools and solutions available today also have the ability to integrate a company’s existing platforms, such as enterprise resource planning tools, sales solutions and more, to give teams and customers greater visibility over past purchases and payments, real time inventory updates, and the ability to place and track sales orders from the same system.
As B2B sales are typically more complex than B2C transactions, systems and solutions are also evolving so they are configurable to specific user’s needs. These different factors can ultimately lead to more conversions, happier customers, and greater capacity to consistently meet targets.
In our modern age, successful B2B e-commerce platforms are mobile-first. For years now, we’ve seen the steady rise of customers seeking mobile solutions for greater ease of use, and top businesses responding in kind. In a bid to make services as efficient and convenient as possible, wholesalers and distributors are investing in mobile solutions so users can make orders, research products and check status updates from anywhere.
On this front, we recommend taking the time to build apps that are capable of simplifying complex processes, be it finding products, receiving quotes from multiple suppliers, or personalising features and notifications. In addition, B2B mobile apps can be used to integrate B2B workflows, such as net payment and shipping terms, or seller review processes. To achieve this, you can build a native app or use a cross-platform development framework such as Flutter.
Another trend defining the B2B e-commerce space is an increasing focus on customer experience (CX). Having a transactional site is not enough - B2B providers must consider every touchpoint with customers and create a complete and cohesive experience. Historically, customer service was a priority in the B2C world and neglected by wholesalers and distributors. However, as expectations change, competition becomes more fierce and leaders are looking for ways to carve out their niche, businesses are upping their game when it comes to CX.
This means delivering: guidance on merchandising, detailed information and product descriptions, clear and high quality branding, functional shopping carts, customer-specific pricing, and clear payment and shipping options. This also includes leveraging advanced technologies for ongoing support - for instance implementing AI-powered chatbots to provide immediate and specific information.
Robust online platforms powered by automation and advanced technologies free up sales representatives and customer support staff from administrative tasks and repetitive queries or issues. As a result, employees are able to step into more consultancy and strategic problem solving roles, and have the opportunity to have a greater impact on the company’s bottom line. Overall, sales people are becoming more responsible for landing deals, while B2B e-commerce sites help to retain and service existing customers.
In addition to freeing up staff for more complex tasks or to land bigger deals, B2B e-commerce sites enable teams to concentrate on growing the company’s footprint and expand into global markets. This includes adapting the e-commerce site to the new geography or region, such as offering products in local currencies or to appeal to specific requirements, offering the option to use local payment methods, and ensuring CX is aligned with local regulations around taxes, privacy or security policies.
B2B buyers are looking for simple, transparent platforms that provide detailed information, customer support and the ability to buy - all from the same intuitive portal that can be accessed on desktop or mobile at any time and location. In this landscape, to achieve continued success, B2B providers must invest in their e-commerce strategy and offer genuine value.
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