THE FUTURE OF B2B eCOMMERCE
B2B eCommerce is not an overnight concept. For more than 20 years B2B retailers have been slowly planting a stake in the online marketplace. Now, with advanced eCommerce tools and increasing buyer expectations, B2B companies are moving at a faster pace to gain a competitive foothold. Wholesalers and distributors can’t ignore the digital evolution happening in their industry, nor can they ignore the statistics. In Unilog’s 2018 B2B Digital Commerce Survey of distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers, nearly 80% of respondents with an eCommerce site said they continue to see their online sales grow. With digital commerce gaining faster momentum in the marketplace, Forrester predicts U.S. B2B eCommerce will hit an estimated $1.2 trillion by 2021 – and, as a result, B2B companies will soon spend more on eCommerce technology than online retailers.
Continue reading to learn how evolving buyer needs and technology are reshaping the B2B industry, and why businesses must begin shifting their mindset if they want to remain relevant.
The days of traditional selling are all but gone. Buyers don’t want to order over the phone using a paper catalog; they want the ability to view products with just a click of a button, and the flexibility to shop when and where they want. If B2B companies are going to survive and thrive, they must adapt to change and adopt eCommerce.
CHANGING NEEDS OF THE B2B BUYER
How well do you know your customers? Unless you are regularly reaching out to them for feedback, you may not have an accurate gauge of what they want and need. According to Forrester and Internet Retailer, three-quarters of B2B buyers say making a purchase from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales rep.
With B2C eCommerce sites offering more flexibility and functionality, buyers are now expecting a similar experience on B2B sites. In order to compete with these raised expectations, businesses must have an eCommerce site with three key elements:
Nowadays, business people use a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet for their day-to-day work. In order to provide a user experience that offers the consistency and flexibility buyers want, your eCommerce site must be mobile-friendly and responsive. They don’t just want – they expect – content on B2B sites to be optimized for mobile so they can research and buy products anywhere, anytime. Ultimately, buyers are looking for the same user experience with your business, regardless of the channel they choose.
An easy-to-navigate site makes product searches simpler for buyers, but a customer portal with self-service features makes your site a convenient one-stop shop. B2B professionals increasingly prefer self-service sites because it allows them to be in control and make transactions efficiently and easily. Additionally, they can answer many of their own questions when they have access to information such as invoices and order status, which frees up your staff so they can focus on more important things, like building better customer relationships.
A great customer experience involves personalizing their interaction. Use data gathered from your site to help determine their buying preferences and provide relevant items that meet their needs. While shopping your site, make their personalized pricing and order history available. A customized online experience shows them you care and builds long-term relationships.
Cloud technology, customizable platforms, and an increase in available B2B-specific ecosystem offerings are enabling many businesses to evolve their eCommerce sites to increase efficiency and drive sales.
Just as the B2B buyer has changed, so, too, has eCommerce technology. Cloud technology, customizable platforms, and an increase in available B2B-specific ecosystem offerings are enabling many businesses to evolve their eCommerce sites to increase efficiency and drive sales. And, with more flexible solutions available, eCommerce is now becoming more cost-effective and feasible for smaller companies so they can stay in the B2B retail game.
Unilog is a frontrunner when it comes to B2B eCommerce software and solutions. Noted as a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites, Q3 2018 report and positioned in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce two years in a row, Unilog’s CIMM2 platform is a powerful, yet affordable eCommerce solution that gives small to mid-sized organizations the ability to compete online.
CIMM2 provides the key components of a best-in-breed eCommerce solution – product information management (PIM), a content management system (CMS), search, and commerce – bringing them all together to handle the unique integration and business requirements of the B2B enterprise. The robust cloud-based platform integrates with essential back-end data repositories to create a flexible, secure, and cost-effective way to deliver a superior e-store experience.
CHANGING B2B MINDSET
For those who think B2B eCommerce is just a passing fad, think again. Online giants like Amazon Business are entering the B2B retail market, causing a disruption in the distribution business model and traditional B2B mindset.
You can’t assume your loyal customers will stick with you when the competition is so fierce. Chances are they will sacrifice that relationship for an easier, more convenient shopping experience with someone else.
Some may feel an eCommerce investment is cost-prohibitive, and that it takes too much time and energy to build a site. While an eCommerce site does require an initial investment, both in money and resources, the money saved and the potential revenue earned is sure to bring a return on your investment. Once in the eCommerce space, many companies begin to see an increase in average order value and sales, and a decrease in support and other operational costs. With today’s advanced technologies and capabilities, all-in-one platforms like Unilog’s CIMM2 integrate with your existing ERP system, ensuring an efficient and practical implementation to meet your eCommerce business goals.
The B2B retail industry is changing, and for the better. It’s becoming more in tune with B2B buyers’ needs and offering the best that technology has to offer to make commerce easier and more effective for everyone. Whether you have an eCommerce site that needs an overhaul, or are lacking an eCommerce presence, consider making some changes to stay in the race. Look at the facts, listen to your customers, and be a part of the future of eCommerce. Speak with a member of the Unilog team today to learn how you can take your business to the next level with their powerful and reliable CIMM2 platform.
Unilog is a global technology company that delivers powerful, affordable eCommerce solutions for the B2B marketplace. Our cloud-based eCommerce platform and product data enrichment services help distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers increase online sales, reduce cost to serve, and enhance their digital channel. Unilog is an ISO 9001:2008- and ISO 8000-certified company with North American headquarters outside of Philadelphia, PA and international headquarters in Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.unilogcorp.com.