Valued at US$ 6.64 trillion in 2020, the worldwide B2B eCommerce market size is forecast to expand 18.7% annually in the next few years. Business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce website transactions in the US alone are expected to climb to US$1.8 trillion within the next year, according to Forrester.
The majority of B2B businesses across the entire sales cycle have moved online. Today, 73% of millennials are active in the B2B buying process. As typical buyer personas have changed from primarily baby boomers to Gen X, sales approaches also need to be adjusted for them to remain effective. And whereas baby boomers preferred data sheets and sales literature for obtaining information, Gen X and millennials prefer access to streamlined, digital channels.
Smartphones currently account for 50% of B2B queries, which is rapidly rising. Mobile sales and purchasing methods contribute to over 40% of revenue in leading B2B companies. Taking all this into account, it is clear that getting your B2B business online should not only be a priority but that it needs to be mobile-friendly too.
While cloud-based interactive presentation software like Ingage can make sure your B2B marketing materials and sales presentations spur engagement—even during a virtual sales pitch—you’re leaving money on the table if you aren’t offering your B2B customers a way to buy from you online. In this guide, we’ll uncover the ins and outs of converting prospects into online customers via an eCommerce website and banish any misconceptions holding you back.
Common Obstacles to B2B eCommerce Adoption
Although it’s true that most business deals are unique and complex, it’s important to consider that buyers are increasingly demanding self-serve options. If your business is holding back on offering eCommerce solutions because you believe these needs can’t be sufficiently met online, you are slipping up and leaving your team stranded while your competitors are outpacing you by a mile or more.
Research shows that 96% of B2B buyers are interacting with digital channels in some capacity during the purchasing process while 37% of B2B buyers are purchasing over half of their goods without the assistance of a sales representative. Providing sufficiently optimized digital purchasing options plays a big part in customer retention rates.
According to McKinsey, 70-80%of business buyers prefer digital interactions to face-to-face supplier transactions, favoring independently managed options with 24/7 access.
Traditional B2B sellers, very often, fall into the trap of failing to recognize that self-serve alternatives enhance, rather than replace, personalization. Businesses reluctant to embrace digital sales alternatives also embrace the false notion that going digital will eliminate the need for sales teams and that customer service cannot be effectively managed online. In addition, some believe their products can’t be sold online and that those making purchases do not prefer digital transactions.
These misconceptions are all very limiting (and damaging) especially in light of how COVID-19 has disrupted the way companies operate. Many companies are now offering their purchases through self-serve digital channels. Additionally, 63% of sales employees who use online solutions have recorded higher numbers. Digital transformation is, therefore, an urgent necessity in order to remain competitive and meet customer needs.
B2B pricing factors remain a constant concern amongst companies holding off on integrating a more fully-fledged digital process. However, B2B pricing concerns (fluctuations, bulk ordering, customer-specific pricing, and customized orders) can be resolved by implementing a suitable processing platform for your business type.
Solutions include dedicated customer login access to view specific pre-negotiated pricing, custom quote requests via an online quote engine, and individualized reorder buttons to duplicate past transactions. Shipping options can be provided as well as tracking and automated notifications.
With the right B2B eCommerce solutions partner, you can dispel the misconceptions, and get the necessary buy-in from your team and key stakeholders.
The Many Benefits of Investing in a B2B eCommerce Website
Although the convenience of digital sales tools is preferred by most customers, integrating digital resources with a human touch can offer the ideal sales sweet spot. Two-thirds of customers who indicate a preference for online ordering services have also indicated that they value some form of human interaction in the sales process. The benefits of investing in a B2B eCommerce platform cannot be stated enough and will be a boon to sales reps in their relentless quest to meet goals and increase revenue.
An online business is more cost-efficient to run if you consider the many manual tasks, processes, and human errors you can eliminate. Not only do you save on labor, administration, communication, and travel costs, but you also improve client accessibility and enhance their overall impression of your company.
Improved Customer Experience
Customer experience often plays a bigger part in client retention than price. Clients put a premium on brands that deliver high-quality service consistently. Digital platforms can optimize customer service by delivering immediate order responses, real-time query resolution, and the ability to access accounts and track orders on-demand in a single hub.
As an example, by investing in a complete makeover of their website, 3M Oral Care now provides a beautiful customer experience with a clean, simple user interface. Updates included revising the use of the corporate logo, rethinking the color, size and shape of buttons, and adding a clear call-to-action on every page. The adoption of the newly released eCommerce website dramatically increased the number of new customers—from 8% to 40%—much to the the delight of the 3M sales team.
Shorter Sales Cycles
Ecommerce automation functions eliminate the inefficiency of calling a sales rep, waiting for quotes, filling out order forms, and waiting for the handling of policy-compliant discounts. It also enables 24/7 self-service access. These digital solutions significantly shorten the buying journey, resulting in more happy customers and, of course, bigger profits.
Due to the convenience of online purchasing, B2B eCommerce websites enable businesses to attract new buyers without geographical limits. It can also drive more orders and total spending. Digital platforms enhance the use of customer data and behavioral patterns to target specific buying preferences. This encourages upsell and cross-sell opportunities which boost revenue.
As an example, 3M Oral Care is in the business of providing dental and orthodontic solutions to dentists to help simplify oral care procedures and put patients on a path toward lifelong oral health. The dedicated sales team of 3M Oral Care asked for a new feature called “Order On Behalf” to allow them to prepare shopping lists for their customers. The recent release of this feature increases the number of online orders by 50% by removing the complexity of the types of braces, configuration and required attachments. The sales reps are now able to prepare several shopping lists for their customers who can now review and submit the orders with ease and peace of mind. 3M Oral Care is making buying easy for their customers worldwide.
Millennials and Gen Z employees make up a significant part of the workforce with B2B buying responsibilities. This segment is digitally wired and has a high preference for doing business online. They are less willing to make phone calls or fill out extensive order forms.
Businesses can only be successful if they know how to reach and tap into their markets smartly, specifically those in purchase decision-making roles. Without B2B eCommerce adoption, sellers risk losing clients and may fail to penetrate new markets.
B2B eCommerce: Must-Haves for Digital Success
To ensure success when setting up or evolving your B2B eCommerce website, there are a few factors that you cannot ignore.
Maintain Blazing Fast Loading Times
Slow page loading times on desktop and mobile devices will inevitably drive potential clients to an alternative provider with faster and more efficient accessibility. Many businesses may not realize the magnitude of lost opportunities due to abandoned visits caused by sites taking longer than three seconds to load. Slow loading times can also negatively affect your standing in search rankings.
Ensure a Mobile-Friendly Web Design
As an eCommerce business, there are a number of additional design factors to consider when setting up your website for mobile functionality. These include:
- product images and video quality
- loading times, text visibility, clickability, and user experience
- the use of pop-ups, the checkout process, ease of fully completing an order
- how well your website integrates with applications such as payment methods, social media, tracking, and stock availability
Optimize Your Website's Search Functionality
Considering that over 50% of sales can be traced back to 11% of site-specific online searches, it’s a given that having well-integrated and fully optimized search functionality on your site is imperative to your bottom line.
Businesses with eCommerce websites should not make the mistake of thinking that the search functionality on their platform is something they can skimp on. Failure to implement a dynamic search function can hinder customer experience on your eCommerce website, and consequently, negatively affect your conversion and revenue.
Streamline Your Order Management
Setting up an order management system can be complicated, however, once this process is automated and streamlined both sales reps and customers will benefit handsomely from digitization.
A typical process, once an order has been placed online, involves an order confirmation being sent to the customer and products being reserved and allocated accordingly. Orders are sent to the warehouse for picking, packing, and shipping. The client receives a dispatch confirmation and finally, the order is delivered.
There may be some additions to the process including the creation of backorders for out-of-stock items, tracking and managing returns, exchanges, or refunds. An unreliable or disjointed system can quickly ruin your company's reputation and cost you more than just financial losses.
Leverage Analytics to Better Understand Your Customers
The effective collection, assessment, and implementation of various eCommerce analytics can be a game-changer for your company. Not only does analytical data empower you to identify eCommerce B2B trends, reduce churn, and personalize customer interactions, but it also allows you to track sales volumes, improve customer satisfaction and maximize your marketing strategy and target campaigns. Data provides insights that allow you to implement corrective strategies and monitor areas for continuous improvement.
Further, valuable insights into client preferences allow you to make strategic data-driven decisions to predict trending product volumes and maximize conversions by understanding the factors that influence customer purchase decisions.
Another advantage of analytics in eCommerce optimization is the ability to see profit margins. This allows businesses to determine discount margins as well as which products should be more heavily marketed for maximum gain. Zobrist offers integrated analytics packages that allow you to access real-time data in a single hub and simplify data interpretation so you can make more informed decisions for your business.
Boost Your Sales with a B2B eCommerce Website
The dramatic rise in eCommerce adoption presents a huge opportunity for B2B entities. The shift to digital sales services can help businesses grow by lowering client visit expenses, expanding brand reach, and improving efficiency.
Undoubtedly, an ineffective B2B eCommerce website will be more harmful to your business than beneficial. This is why B2B leaders that commit to digitizing their market solutions should invest in a robust, mobile-friendly solution. From inventory management, order fulfillment, analytics, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to streamlined sales, online, warehouse, and administrative operations, Zobrist will help you plug into your B2B target market with a responsive, fast-loading, and mobile-friendly eCommerce website. By integrating content personalization you can implement upsell offers, various payment options, and communicate with your client base in several languages.
These integrated solutions enable B2B sectors to advance and expand their digital commerce presence, compete for global market share, and boost revenue. Automation can also cut shipping and delivery schedules, maximize efficiency, reduce unnecessary delays, and improve customer satisfaction. With automated and streamlined processes, sales reps can focus more on customer service rather than spending time on tedious administrative tasks.
The pandemic has increased the urgency for strategic change since consultants were no longer able to meet clients face-to-face. Ingage offered an instant solution, filling these sales gaps by enabling interactive virtual consults. This allowed businesses to restrategize their entire sales approach by integrating virtual sales presentations with their eCommerce and social media platforms.
These interactive sales presentations incorporate elements such as before and after imagery, video clips, and time-lapses. They are visually stimulating and enhance the customer experience. Virtual consults also help consultants qualify leads before traveling, saving time and travel expenses. Ingage provides seamless interactive tools at the consultant's fingertips with real-time pricing updates for immediate deal closures.
Register for an Ingage demo for next-level virtual B2B sales presentations and pitches that offer the features and support to optimize your sales strategy in an increasingly virtual sales climate. A digitally-savvy approach to business is what will set you apart in the new normal. Zobrist and Ingage will help you get there, fast.