According to Forrester Research, 57% of B2B executives said that their top technology need for investment was an e-commerce platform, making it the highest reported need in the survey. Even though most executives understand the urgency to move their businesses online, many companies that do have B2B sites simply treat these websites as online catalogs and take orders by phone or e-mail, not taking full advantage of the benefits of powerful e-commerce software. This outdated method of selling will only cripple businesses unless digital transformation is embraced.
Eliminating B2B Complexities
B2B e-commerce breaks many of the barriers associated with traditional B2B commerce. With no set store hours or geographical boundaries, businesses have virtually unlimited opportunities for growth. An effective B2B e-commerce solution will alleviate many of the complexities associated with B2B with these features:
1. Straightforward Purchasing
In general, B2B buyers prefer a B2B e-commerce platform with B2C conveniences. In fact, 93% of B2B buyers prefer to purchase online directly from their vendors and reorder easily. They want to have self-service access to their accounts and orders and pay through online options. Allowing buyers to benefit from these conveniences and making the ordering process more focused and efficient will enhance customer experiences.
Look for software that supports buyers by managing their own accounts and workflows, adding additional sales representatives directly and choosing from multiple payment and shipping options. The common complexities of B2B commerce such as managing bulk orders, accommodating different online payments methods and organizing shipping schedules can be resolved through a powerful e-commerce platform.
2. Optimized Product Management
Find software that includes efficient searching and advanced inventory management tools like real time tracking and supply chain management.
Businesses will often have lengthy and complicated catalogs that make it difficult for buyers to decipher and order. An advanced search engine tool will help customers locate the product they are looking for with ease. Furthermore, companies can improve operations by providing customers with real-time accurate inventory information across the supply chain to optimize delivery times since many B2B orders involve bulk orders. Organizations need to know how much inventory is in stock at each of their locations. Technology can aid in managing inventory on hand and backorders. Handling these complicated actions on the backend means that on the front end, all the customer sees is a personalized buying experience that they will want to keep coming back to.
3. Flexible and Personalized Configurations
From pricing to shipping, a modern B2B platform will offer flexibility and efficiency according to your business goals.
The additional complexities of B2B requires a solution that is highly configurable to accommodate for the many pricing options, authorization rules, complicated workflows, combination of payment terms and service bundles. Personalize the users’ online experience by assigning custom catalogs and pricing for specific customers and target products and promotions to specific segments. In many instances, different customers will have different pricing so that unique pricing structure needs to be reflected as well for the specific user.
4. In Depth Analytics and Reporting
Utilize a powerful solution that offers data reporting tools that show insight into customer interests, page performance and asset engagement levels to understand how to cater your website towards audience behavior.
A unique benefit of doing business online is having a wealth of data and analytics otherwise not possible through traditional commerce. Digital platforms track performance metrics, provide real-time analysis of traffic patterns and reveal what customers are doing on the site. This data can be transformed into a deeper understanding of customers that leads to more informed decision making that in turn helps the organization create even better customer experiences.
The Future of B2B E-Commerce
Today B2B digital commerce is on track to hit $1 trillion by 2019. Businesses should not shy away from this technology but instead capitalize on the growth of B2B e-commerce. Recognizing how an e-commerce solution can answer your B2B challenges will be the first step into tailoring an experience that will exceed your customers’ expectations and nurture them into loyal buyers.