We all have something—a tool or device—that we own, but somehow never utilize in full. While most wholesale companies are aware of B2B eCommerce platforms and how this technology can help their supply chains, these platforms rarely get the attention they deserve.
Data shows that eCommerce helps improve customer satisfaction because these platforms give customers access to self-serve tools and options, which then reduces the amount of time spent during the order placement and delivery fulfillment stages. This helps to increase sales and revenue for businesses who choose to leverage this technology.
The question now is: why, despite its usefulness, eCommerce is still being underutilized?
According to a study conducted by DHL, despite the increase in total revenue for businesses using eCommerce, 60% of companies have not implemented this strategy. As a B2B wholesaler who appreciates growth—especially where sales are concerned—you’re probably wondering why this is the case. Well, here are 3 reasons why:
- Constantly-changing customer expectations
Driven by a growing desire for convenience in purchasing and ordering goods, consumers are pushing sellers to be more creative with their sales approach. In today’s market, customers now expect to avail ‘fast and free’ shipping whenever they make an order. This urges business owners to explore new technology in order to keep up with growing customer demands.
To fulfill delivery expectations, companies are now pressured to to ship smaller deliveries at more frequent intervals instead of at set intervals in bulk.
- Other urgent business priorities
This may sound outrageous, especially for those who reap the benefits of utilizing eCommerce—but some companies intentionally look past eCommerce as a solution for their growth. While they are aware of its potential, there are other, more pressing matters that they wish to focus on.
And since these companies are already aware of B2B eCommerce, they can opt to switch to the platform once their other urgent priorities are fulfilled.
Taking on an eCommerce platform is an investment. Purchasing software usually costs a considerable amount and also requires that you and your in-house team undergo proper training.
As a result, some companies choose to tap outsourcing services to manage their supply chain for them. This is less costly than purchasing software, and it also saves them money and time.
However, these businesses have not yet realized the value of having their own eCommerce platform. And while outsourcing may work for some, most soon realize that they can actually gain more by investing in their own in-house platform.
Finding the right distribution strategy
Now that we have identified why businesses have not fully embraced eCommerce as part of their B2B strategy, it's time to assess what you can do.
If your company budget allows for it, establishing multiple in-house distribution centers (whether in the country or abroad) can address the demand for fast and free shipping. This option eliminates delays that companies with only 1 or 2 distribution centers usually face.
However, if servicing the entire country or going for worldwide distribution is too much for your budget, it might be good to consider outsourcing your supply chain management.
From an inventory and distribution standpoint, there are mixed sentiments over how businesses should handle eCommerce orders today and how these will need to be addressed in the foreseeable future. At present, the practice is to have two or more distribution methods to fulfill orders. However, based on the DHL study , over 50% of companies intend to change their strategy in the next 3 to 5 years.
Finding the perfect balance between insourcing and outsourcing distribution and supply logistics is one of the biggest challenges and opportunities B2B companies have to face.
What this means for your business
Statista forecasts that by 2021, eCommerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion—that's an increase of 246% from 2014.
eCommerce is the future for both B2C and B2B. It’s become crucial for B2B businesses to have flexible strategies, or to explore multiple channels in order to evolve and keep pace with the changing market.
Here are 12 ways to enhance B2B eCommerce utilization according to Shopify.
Give B2B eCommerce a B2C Treatment
Add features like mobile optimization, social proofing, flexible shipping options, order tracking, and live chat support.
Enhance Your Onsite Search Functionality
Enhancing your onsite search helps streamline the sales process—empowering your sales reps to work in a more consultative, rather than transactional role.
Encourage Customer Ratings and Reviews
Let your customers attract prospects with honest reviews from their experience in dealing with you. Of course, it’s important that you first delight them with your products and services. Otherwise, this plan will backfire.
Make Wholesale Easy on Traditional Customers
Simplicity is key. Don’t confuse your buyers with unfamiliar processes. Identify who your target customers are and customize your workflows for them.
Head Off the Deal Breakers Before It’s Too Late
IT and legal are deal-breakers that shouldn’t be overlooked. Address any possible legal or IT-related concerns before signing any major deals to avoid complications in systems and lawsuits.
Generate B2B in eCommerce Leads with “Agnosticism”
B2B eCommerce lead generation can’t start with you; it has to start with your customer. Start by identifying who your targets are and attract them with informative content. Then you can guide them through making a purchase.
Teach Commercial Insight Instead of Thought Leadership
Teach customers something new about their business needs or challenges, and provide them with compelling reasons why it was necessary to take action.
Provide Content for Every Stage of the B2B Journey
By creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re actually making shorter sales cycles, higher conversion rates, and an increase in marketing-sourced pipeline and revenue.
Anticipate Multiple B2B Ecommerce Decision Makers
The executives are not the only decision makers in the industry. B2B merchants must adopt a consensus-building approach to sales that clearly addresses the needs, concerns, and wants of diverse groups.
Humanize Your B2B through Social Media
Buyers are increasingly looking to social channels for information and guidance from their peers and broader networks.
Go Beyond “Just Business” Relationships
Put an authentic face to your B2B platform and create the kind of relationship your customers want. Personal gestures that bridge the digital-to-physical divide go a long way.
Price with Both Automation and Negotiation
Set prices that are personalized. Automate for prospective clients who have just arrived at your site and are still in the research stage. Once the customer is closer to purchasing, it’s more practical to make this the negotiation stage.
Remember, equipping yourself with the appropriate distribution strategies helps you utilize eCommerce to your advantage and allows your business to better adapt to the industry changes that come your way.
Sweet is a cloud-based inventory and order management platform specifically designed for wholesale distributors. We've built Sweet to help you keep up with the non-stop nature of running a business in today’s market and help you grow in the years to come. We can help you sync orders coming in via email, calls, texts, etc., and then ensure your production, accounting, and customer service all have the same information throughout.