COVID-19 played a major role in fast-tracking eCommerce implementations in the B2B industry. While in-person sales came to an abrupt halt in 2020, demand for buying products didn’t skip a beat and online sales skyrocketed. Those without an eCommerce site lost revenue, relevance, and opportunities to engage with their customers.
Fast forward two years later and B2B companies are still facing challenges. Third-party marketplaces have pushed their way in, taking valuable market share away from distributors, and tools and technologies popular in the retail space are now being sought after by B2B buyers. But organizations are taking steps to keep up with the mounting competition and customer expectations by implementing strategies that improve efficiencies, attract more buyers, and boost sales. In 2022, small to midsized distributors cannot afford to stay idle while the market evolves.
In the first of our three-part blog series, we’re reviewing one of the top trends driving success in the wholesale distribution marketplace this year, along with tools to support this effort.
Trend #1: Faster eCommerce implementations for quicker time to market
Nearly two-thirds of B2B companies have eCommerce capabilities today. McKinsey & Company’s Global B2B Pulse Survey reports this figure is up a whopping 53% from early 2021. This surge in site implementations is a result of the ongoing demand for more convenient buying options. Businesses are listening to their customers and, for the first time, McKinsey reports, B2B sellers are pushing eCommerce selling over in-person sales.
But, as distributors add a digital branch into their sales channels, some have experienced slower than expected eCommerce implementations. Unilog’s own B2B Digital Commerce Report found 51% of distributor site implementations took more than nine months to complete. Nine months without a transactional site can equate to thousands of dollars in missed revenue.
The reasons for long implementations can fall on both the distributor and the eCommerce provider. Without reasonable expectations, a clear project scope, and agreed-upon timeline, responsibilities become unclear, both parties lose focus, and, as a result, project milestones are missed. Wholesale organizations don’t need a gold-standard eCommerce site out the gate. It’s much more advantageous to launch a site with critical functionality and features first, and build upon it from there. More advanced offerings like chatbots, custom tools, and integration with various online marketplaces can be added after the foundational site goes live.
Implementation setbacks can also be caused by lack of system integration with an ERP. This critical component for eCommerce success can be tricky for technology providers unfamiliar with the array of ERP systems distributors use to run their organizations. It takes expertise and a deep set of application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect an eCommerce platform with an ERP solution. Without a seamless ERP integration, organizations can’t display real-time product pricing and availability, or provide accurate customer information on their website.
Custom sites are another reason implementation projects run over schedule. Sometimes at the behest of the distributor, and other times the eCommerce provider, they feel inclined to create a website from the ground up. The more logical approach to eCommerce implementation is to utilize a proven B2B site architecture that is familiar to buyers and is pre-built with industry-specific tools and features customers need. Unilog has done just that. Through years of testing and direct B2B experience, we have developed a solid site architecture and design that incorporates B2B industry requirements and best practices. The result is a simple-to-execute eCommerce model that delivers a quicker site implementation without sacrificing functionality, usability, and design. We call it the GO eCommerce implementation program and it’s a game changer for small to midmarket businesses.
Powerful, affordable, and easy to use, Unilog’s cloud-based eCommerce platform gives wholesale distributors a fully branded website with a user-friendly interface, intuitive browse and search tools, an advanced shopping cart with multiple payment options, and efficient account management and self-service features. We integrate our platform with virtually any ERP and include our own product information management (PIM) tool for a unified buying experience across sales channels. Our rapid-deployment GO program gets businesses live faster so they can begin reaping the benefits of a digital branch.
If you’re looking to get a digital branch up and running for your customers, talk with one of Unilog’s eCommerce specialists. We’ll review your digital commerce needs, demo our product, and share our roadmap to eCommerce implementation success.
Don’t miss the next blog post in our series where we’ll cover a trend that centers on wholesale distribution customers and provide seven tactics to attract and retain them.