If you’ve been hesitating to move forward with a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce site, there are some important things you should know:
- B2B e-commerce is rapidly expanding.
- Millennials are increasingly influencing professional purchasing decisions.
- Global revenues are predicted to top a staggering $6.6 trillion by 2020.
- B2B e-commerce is growing twice as fast as business-to-consumer (B2C).
With these facts in mind, it’s probably time to implement online ordering for your B2B customers. If your brand is resisting this essential update, consider whether this might be a result of any of these common misconceptions about B2B e-commerce:
Myth #1: We don’t need a B2B online store. If you’ve already launched a luxury e-commerce site that offers your wares directly to consumers — that’s great! But it is important that you don’t stop there. If you aren’t also offering wholesalers, retailers, organizations or resellers the opportunity to purchase your products online, you are almost certainly missing out on business.
Many online brands are both B2C and B2B — and you don’t need separate websites to manage both. Personalized browsing experiences can be established for B2B clients by using customer group logins on your current site. (This works well for VIPs, too!)
Myth #2. B2B customers don’t want to order online. The days of relying on sales representatives for product information are gone. Instead, today’s tech-savvy millennials conduct extensive online research before making purchasing decisions — and they absolutely expect to be able to order online. This demographic of buyers — an entire generation of digital natives (ages 18-24) — now accounts for almost half of B2B online researchers.
Millennials, in general, tend to actively avoid interacting with salespeople and instead turn to online reviews, peer recommendations, or outside experts when conducting product research.
They expect all of the conveniences of their personal online shopping habits to carry over into the business segment and prefer to order independently, with 24/7 research capability and total purchasing control.
3. B2B customer service can’t be managed online. B2B customers expect quality customer service, and this doesn’t change when they’re shopping online. Existing e-commerce tools allow for excellent customer communication via e-mail, phone, text, or online chat. And, because today’s buyers have a do-it-yourself ethic, it is also valuable to develop online, self-service information centers.
In the past, personal relationships were integral to B2B customer satisfaction, but today, the key to success lies more with speed. B2B customers expect near-immediate answers to their questions and quick resolutions to their concerns. If you are unable to provide this, they will find another company who can.
4. B2B e-commerce sites can’t handle complex pricing. We understand that B2B pricing can be more complicated than B2C. In most cases, B2B pricing concerns like pricing fluctuations, customer-specific pricing, bulk ordering, and custom ordering can be resolved online by implementing the right B2B platform.
For instance, pre-negotiated pricing can be hidden from the general public by placing it behind customer logins. Or, if customers are in need of a custom quote, a quote engine can allow them to request a quote at any time; for future reorders, an individualized reorder button can be provided. Information on freight and volume shipping options can also be provided on your site.
5. B2B sites don’t need to be mobile-friendly. Similar to direct product consumers, B2B customers also do mobile product research, read reviews, compare features and prices, and, more than ever, make purchases directly on their smartphones. If your site is not optimized for mobile users, you will lose business.
If any of these common misconceptions has been preventing you from developing or optimizing your brand’s B2B e-commerce site, now is the time to look towards some custom solutions. Branded Online can assess all of your e-commerce needs and soon, your business customers will benefit from more immediate, effective, convenient, and reliable online buying experiences.