B2B Online held another successful conference this year – their fifth digital event to support manufacturers and distributors on their eCommerce journey. The three-day meeting brought together more than 700 B2B professionals and eCommerce experts for a mix of small group discussions, roundtables, and hands-on sessions.
Unilog representatives were there to join in the dialogue and answer questions, as was CEO Suchit Bachalli, who chaired the second day of the conference, sharing his predictions for the future of B2B eCommerce, and leading the day’s sessions on engagement and customer experience optimization.
While the general meeting theme revolved around digital success, there were a few hot topics discussed outside of the sessions that were top of mind for both distributors and manufacturers:
#1 hot topic: The need to improve online content
Unilog staff heard from many business leaders who are feeling the pressure to enrich their online product content. They want to bring more value to their customers by providing detailed information, spec sheets and visuals for their products, but are not sure where to start or how to manage the amount of data. Without the right tools and a plan of attack, they are feeling overwhelmed and distressed by the enormous undertaking.
If you’re feeling the same anxiety over data enrichment, you need to strategize your content efforts. First, don’t assume you have to enrich your entire product catalog all at once. Prioritize which products to focus on first; for example, the ones that drive your online traffic and sales. If you don’t have the internal resources to manage your data enrichment project, partner with someone who does.
#2 hot topic: The fear of channel shift
Another theme that resonated during the conference is the concern over converting buyers to online customers. While online purchases have a lower cost per transaction than ordering through a representative, many distributors feel if they can’t drive incremental revenue with a website right away, then eCommerce isn’t a worthwhile investment.
Channel shift is not only good for business, it’s the only way to stay relevant in today’s marketplace. By not making a website available to customers and not promoting online transactions, you risk losing business to big box retailers who are doing a better job at eCommerce.
The distributor mindset needs to change and businesses must consider the importance of engaging customers in the online environment. Today, it’s not necessary to have salespeople and customer service reps facilitate most orders; this work is cost-prohibitive and keeps them from doing more important, complex deals that bring higher value and higher margin. An online storefront may not drive incremental revenue the first year, but it will become a valuable sales channel that provides lower overall costs to transact, increased customer loyalty, and a better defense against non-independent distributors.
#3 hot topic: Creating better engagement with buyers
Distributors are looking for ways to make themselves more available to customers – especially now that B2B buyers are making purchases on mobile devices. While some distributors are slow to become omnichannel, others are working hard to create friction-free interactions with their customers. This means engaging with customers wherever and whenever they want, whether it’s at their showroom, online, or on the phone.
A consistent, omnichannel experience is imperative to your online success, as well as your overall business success. Make your business ubiquitous and available in any channel so customers can buy on their terms – not yours. Giving buyers more power and resources creates better experiences, engagement and, ultimately, loyalty.
Unilog addressed many attendees’ concerns at B2B Online, and we’re here to help you, too. We have the platform, services, and experts to help guide you through your online journey and build a better customer experience. Contact us today to share your eCommerce issues, and we’ll provide you with viable, affordable solutions.