You may be convinced of the benefits of implementing a B2B eCommerce platform for your business, but there may be certain departments or stakeholders in your organization who aren’t sold on the idea. Even when change is obviously necessary, you may not be able to get other people to care enough. Sometimes they're happy with what they have, the way things are, or you haven't addressed the "what's in it for me" question that’s permanently parked at the back of most people's minds.
A switch to eCommerce often impacts multiple departments within an organization, and opposition can, very possibly, erupt across the board. “Contact with customers is going to be impacted and some people on our team will lose their jobs,” is a common salvo fired by sales departments. Marketing might be muttering: “We will need to change our entire marketing structure when we start with e-commerce. A new platform will bring a lot of additional work because it doesn’t have the right tooling and branding.” For finance teams, it’s the figures: “We don’t have the budget for an e-commerce platform. And IT might express security concerns: “How are we going to be PCI-compliant? Are we opening ourselves up to more security threats?”
A 2020 survey found that 38% of businesses adopted a B2B eCommerce strategy to offer enhanced customer experiences. For 33%, the driving force was increased revenue, and 29% because of the need to replace existing eCommerce solutions. Whatever the impetus, implementing a B2B eCommerce strategy while dealing with internal resistance to launching a B2B web store can prove challenging… but it’s not impossible.
Why Does B2B eCommerce Adoption Matter?
The rise in B2B eCommerce adoption is more than just a pandemic trend. B2B brands are increasingly taking the digital route to serve their customers better as it allows them to stay connected with them around the clock. It also contributes to efficient online ordering and faster order fulfillment.
Some reasons that make B2B eCommerce a game-changer include a higher value of omnichannel customers as compared to single-channel customers. In a B2B environment, businesses get fewer but bigger deals, a phenomenon that can be attributed to complex B2B offerings, unique pricing, and bulk ordering. That’s why B2B relationships usually last for years or even decades.
The main drawcard of using a B2B web portal is higher revenue, sustainable growth, and enhanced buying experiences.
These can be attributed to:
- The self-service purchase process allows buyers to discover new products and get related high-quality information that matches their interests. A positive product discovery experience encourages customers in making spontaneous purchases, thus increasing your average order value.
- Through a B2B eCommerce portal, you can expand your geographical reach and connect with a mass audience at scale. Remote or small customers that you couldn’t visit earlier now explore your platform themselves and make a purchase online.
- Your web store is open 24/7. Your customers don’t have to wait on your sales reps or business hours, reducing customer defection rates.
How to Get Buy-In From Your Sales Team
Digital transformation can be intimidating and fear-inducing for some individuals. They may feel threatened that sales made online will not bring enough credit or they will not have enough opportunities to establish relationships with customers. Moreover, different teams may fear that their conventional methods will become obsolete in the B2B eCommerce landscape, rendering them redundant.
Though these concerns aren’t unwarranted: eCommerce does change the sales dynamic, but that change is to the benefit of the sales team. By educating your salespeople about the immense potential of eCommerce and how it can become a potent tool in closing the sales cycle quicker, you will likely earn their support during the transition period.
Facilitating open discussions on eCommerce practices can effectively dispel beliefs commonly associated with B2B eCommerce adoption. Your sales team is the conduit to your customer base and without their support, it will be an uphill battle to attain B2B eCommerce adoption and online success.
Educate Your Sales Team on How to Use B2B eCommerce to Their Advantage
Now that you have set the record straight, the next step is to empower your teams with the information and skills to thrive in the new ecosystem of online commerce.
B2B eCommerce and your sales reps can do much more than merely co-exist. Together, they can deliver a seamless B2B purchasing experience for your customers. With the automation of repetitive processes, your sales reps will turn into consultants rather than mere order takers.
Your sales reps can invest more time in enhancing product details and helping customers understand how a product fits their business needs. Their new role is more significant because—despite the convenience of online ordering—customers will still frequently seek the guidance of a product expert to help them make an informed decision.
The sales team can ease the process of buying complex B2B products for your customers by leveraging specialized tools like online draft quotes and CPQ (Configure Price Quote) solutions. This shift from the traditional sales process to the digital sales process will result in shorter sales cycles and more revenue.
Best Practices for B2B eCommerce Adoption
When you’re considering launching a B2B eCommerce site, be sure to engage with all departments of your organization. Involving everyone in this process lets them know that their voice has been heard. Organizational unity is critical. Everyone needs to think and act as an organization and not from a departmental perspective.
Here are a few best practices in B2B eCommerce adoption that work:
Reward Sales Reps for Online Sales
The shift to eCommerce will not diminish the role of your sales reps. Instead, it’ll give them more time to better serve your customers. As trusted consultants or product advisors, their contributions remain significant, and as such, they should be compensated accordingly.
Align Sales and Marketing Teams
Your sales and marketing team may conventionally be different departments but they are essentially chanting the same chorus: increased revenue. Hence, integrating the two departments makes good business sense. They can share insights and practically create the benchmark for “qualified” leads. Once the teams are synchronized, you can expect improved customer retention rates, better post-purchase support, and enhanced brand reputation.
Position Sales Reps to Lead Your B2B eCommerce Efforts
Once your sales team is convinced of the power and potential of your eCommerce platform to drive sales, they will become huge advocates who will help grow your digital branch and revenue. It’s crucial, therefore, to clearly articulate and remind your sales reps of the benefits an online channel provides them. You hired your sales reps to be specialized product experts, not mere order takers, so leverage their skill sets to build your business and customer base. With sales on board and aligned with your digital strategy, everybody wins.
Your customers may not knock on your B2B eCommerce store right after the launch. You can give them the much-needed motivation to visit and purchase online through differential pricing and incentives. Attract new customers with an entry-level offer or by offering ‘starter’ value. Nudge existing customers with steps like easy online product extensions or contract renewals.
Most enterprise ecom platforms provide the sales reps with the capability of setting up contract pricing for each and every customer by product, category, and brand. The contract pricing can be approved by upper management as required. The benefit of putting together deals together quickly and safely is definitely a competitive advantage that would beat your competitors to the punch.
The power of a mobile storefront is too great to ignore. It eases the shopping process for your users, so they can complete their orders whenever and wherever they have the time to do so. Giving your customers the convenience of offline access will translate into increased sales.
Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain
When venturing into the B2B eCommerce space, having the right solution partner by your side will ensure that you start on a solid footing, effectively navigate the adoption process, and enable a lifetime of growth for your business.
Zobrist is a leading eCommerce expert that helps businesses launch high-performing B2B eCommerce sites that drive growth. The Zobrist team will help you connect to your target audience with a mobile, responsive, and fast-loading website. We develop managed eCommerce shopping experiences with the latest commerce, analytics, and payment technologies. Multiple payment options, multiple languages, and upsell offers are just a few of the integrations we offer.
From helping you secure support in your organization and tackling B2B eCommerce challenges to strategizing your entire eCommerce initiative, we make the transition as painless and streamlined as possible. Contact us for a consultation.