B2B eCommerce: An Omnichannel Approach to Marketing and Sales
B2B-model businesses are increasingly migrating online. A website is no longer an option now, it is a must.For B2B websites, the majority of the clients in its market sphere are businesses and not individuals. Therefore, to gain maximum exposure for any service or product, reputation needs to be established first. Providing fantastic services to clients, earning loyalty, and maintaining a healthy customer relationship through effective pricing and delivery - are some ways to get it done.In this digitally growing environment, all of these things are possible simply through a website. Subsequently, the online presence of B2B establishments has opened up an omnichannel experience for B2B buyers worldwide.Let's find out how B2B eCommerce can be positioned as a part of the omnichannel approach strategy to grow your customer base and ultimately, contributing to higher revenues.
Defining The Omnichannel Approach
In definition, the omnichannel approach refers to a multichannel approach to marketing and sales in reaching the customers that could involve both online and offline channels. Its main aim is to provide the customers with a seamless experience across all channels.
eCommerce Is Changing The Way Buyers Buy
In both B2B and B2C spheres, eCommerce has drastically changed the way buyers research, inspect, and ultimately, purchase the products they need.
According to a recent Forrester report, eCommerce activity in the B2B sector within the United States hit $780 billion in 2015, and sales are projected to top $1.1 trillion by 2020, accounting for 12% of all B2B sales stateside.
But it’s important to keep in mind that not all B2B buying activity is strictly transactional. The majority of eCommerce activity revolves around product discovery. This includes investigating products, evaluating configurability, determining what a given product can be used for, exploring customization options, and so on. A perfect example of the omnichannel experience that focuses not only to sell but to educate the customers.B2B buyers are spending more and more time (and money) online. If you’re not providing useful, easy-to-access product information, internet-savvy sourcing professionals won’t even bother investigating further. Hence, you need to provide them with detailed data that they need to make informed decisions. This is especially important in the B2B market, as compared to the B2C market. For example, users can probably afford to buy the wrong type of shoes, but in large-scale industrial operations, buying the wrong type of parts or equipment can be a million-dollar mistake.Read: Choosing The Right Technology to Create An Unmatched Customer Experience
Buyers Are Bypassing Your Sales Reps
As online buying activity picks up, face-to-face sales opportunities are on the decline. In fact, another Forrester report found that;
3 out of 4 B2B buyers prefer self-education using online product data to having conversations with sales representatives.
Not only is this approach more anonymous, but it also means that buyers aren’t pressured by salespeople, and it is also much more convenient.In the past, your sales team speak for your products. They know how to position them for the buyer, what benefits to emphasize, and how to differentiate your offerings from others.But now, as B2C habits cross over into the B2B field, you need to provide data that can do the talking for you. Every detail, measurement, material option, and customization needs to be easily available at a click of a mouse.
Distributors Are Adapting
Distributors begin to recognize this shift in buying habits. Increasingly, many start making major changes in how they conduct their businesses. All, in order to remain relevant.
“The State of eCommerce in Distribution” survey showed that the percentage of distributors generating between 5% and 10% of their business from eCommerce grew from 16% to 19% between 2015 and 2016. And over the same period of time, the percentage of distributors generating between 10% and 20% of business from eCommerce grew by 2%.
In the midst of this shifting landscape, many distributors are still having difficulty obtaining rich and complete product data from manufacturers. This hinders potential eCommerce activity. B2B eCommerce offers informative and highly useful product data. These would not only help your end users, but also your distributors, and your bottom line.
The days of selling through a dedicated team of sales professionals are coming to an end. No more controlling the business-customer relationship, from the first contact to post-sale follow-up.Today’s industrial B2B buyers are looking for a specification and purchasing journey similar to what B2C offers but in a B2B eCommerce setting — simple, anonymous, and self-educational. Rich and useful product data provide users with an intuitive and streamlined digital experience that meet expectations.