eCommerce for B2B sellers is still way behind the adoption curve and a lot of opportunity still exist to capture market share and expand your reach. Consequently, if you make a living selling to other businesses you should be revisiting your eCommerce strategy.
B2B or Business-to-Business refers to the segment of the market that manufacturers, wholesales or distributes goods to other businesses. Typically the business on the buy side of the transaction is using the goods to add value and sell to the end user. Value is added by combing products into new products, providing distribution closer to the source or thru reselling the goods directly to consumers.
We have met a Business-to-Business CEOs who have not embraced eCommerce for their business. They operate in world where they believe face-to-face sales is still the best way to win clients. This may be true, but B2B eCommerce is also used to service existing clients regardless of what sales channel the sale originated.
Important functions of your B2B eCommerce system will allow your customers to track orders placed with a sales person, look at previous order they made with your business, reorder products they have ordered in the past as well as create new order. Advanced systems will allow you to have pricing strategies per client tied to their login. Thus, customers can get account specific pricing, allowing for self-service repeat ordering.
Myths about B2B eCommerce.
We hear a lot of good reasons why manufactures, distributors and wholesalers have not embarked on an eCommerce strategy. Fortunately, a lot of them are no longer true. Here are some of the more common myths about Business-to-Business online sales.
Myth 1: Our customers like to buy from people, we are a relationship driven business.
That may be true for some of your current customers. What about all the other businesses that buy what you are selling from someone else? What about the entries into the market? What about your current customers who might get stolen by a competitor because of the ease of their online ordering system?
In 2015, a Google study found that 89% of B2B purchase research was done online – Do you think that number is going up or down?
B2B eCommerce does not have to be all or nothing. Your sales people are not going away, you are just opening up a new sales channel for customers who would prefer to buy online.
Myth 2: B2B eCommerce is too much work.
While it is true that some eCommerce systems can be a beast to get started with, you can also build a quick to market strategy. Some of the determining factors for quick to market will be based on the level of integration you need to your ERP and CRM systems. If you are looking at new ERP systems you should consider fully integrated packages like NetSuite. If you are integrating to an existing EPR you need to make sure that there is an API available.
The benefits from implementing an integrated B2B sales platform will bring efficiency for your clients, your staff and your sales team. Everything will be simpler and faster at your business after you implement B2B online tools for your customers and staff.
Implementing new system can be expensive but your benefits should outweigh the cost.
Magento 2.0 is a popular choice for B2B. We can integrate Magento to your ERP.
Myth 3: Everyone will see my prices, I don’t want that.
While it is true that a some B2B sellers publish list prices on their website, your business does not have to. You can choose to hide prices until a user logs in. Once your customer logs in you can customize prices to your customers contracts. Showing your prices online is not necessary and should not stop your from improving your company.
The benefits of B2B eCommerce
There are many good reasons to add a B2B commerce strategy to business sales channels. Here are just a few.
Increase your reach
An online sales strategy, SEO and customer acquisition plan opens your business up to a much larger world of customers. If you current sales strategy relies on trade shows and catalogs, augmenting with B2B will greatly expand your potential new customer list. Most professional buyers start their research online. You won’t meet these folks at the bar at your trade shows.
Improve offline sales
Having a great website will actually help you improve your offline sales and help your sales team close more deals. The first thing your new prospects does after meeting your representative is to look your business up online. Are they more likely to do business with a company that has their ducks in a row or one the looks like they are stuck in the 80s? Exactly, the better you look online, the more likely your new prospects will become new customers. (all things being equal)
Better Customer Experience
Your customers want “self-service” – they want to be able to log in to your system and see their order, they want to track order progress, look at past orders and re-order from past orders – all without picking up the phone.
Improved Customer Insights
After your client logs in we can track what they look at, how many times the look at it, if they added it to their shopping cart and did not check out. The insights you gain can trigger emails, followup phone calls and possible changes to your sales strategy. With marketing automation, we can even set up automated triggers to engage with the customers based on their online actions. You can’t do that with a line sheet.
Need to talk B2B strategy? we can help you pick the right platform and build an online strategy. We have dedicated, professional programmers, designers, marketers and B2B specialist on staff.