Digitalisation is a current development in many people’s personal lives as well as in the business world. As more and more processes and industries are being digitalised, we look on how the B2B business has changed over the years and what the advantages of B2B-specific E-Commerce platforms are.
B2B sales are increasingly shifting from traditional outbound channels to inbound online platforms. Companies should respond to this trend to meet their customers' expectations and remain competitive in the market.
The COVID 19 pandemic has triggered a digital transformation in the B2B market. According to data from the management and consulting company McKinsey, 80% of B2B buyers do not plan to return to face-to-face selling even after the pandemic.
Expectations on E-Commerce services in the B2B sector have risen in the past years. Where digital services were once nice to have, they are now essential and inevitable. B2B buyers nowadays expect professional digital services, simple online buying processes and good quality customer service.
B2B E-Commerce is about enabling your team and your customers to be more efficient as well as increasing sales and gaining new market shares.
Advantages of using a B2B E-Commerce platform include:
- B2B E-Commerce is a rapidly growing sector:
Buyers now find the online sales experience more convenient than buying from a sales representative, as they would have done in the past. Much like the B2C E-Commerce sector, the B2B sector has experienced a global growth. In the US alone, it is projected to grow to a value of US$ I,8 trillion by 2023. In 2020, the South African E-Commerce sector grew by 24%.
B2B buyers are increasingly shopping online. If companies don't keep up and offer this service, they risk being left behind. E-Commerce platforms are becoming more and more the standard. This is also creating a trend towards less buyers calling, emailing and visiting in person. They increasingly want to do things online to be more efficient and save costs. In order not to be left behind by the competition and dilute parts of the customer base, it is already worthwhile to start offering an E-Commerce solution now. This way, the company is better prepared for the future.
- Reaching more buyers:
A publicly accessible B2B E-Commerce platform is a good way to reach new B2B customers. Buyers today not only prefer to shop online but expect companies to make online purchasing possible. B2B buyers often compare products and prices online. Sellers can use this to connect with them through search engine optimisation (SEO). By including SEO-friendly content on the platform, new visitors can be targeted and converted into customers.
These days more and more B2B buyers prefer to shop online, and this trend is only set to increase in the future.
- Reach new markets:
E-Commerce allows your products to be noticed and purchased all over the globe. With a B2B E-Commerce platform, you can not only reach more customers in your existing markets, but also enter new markets.
Furthermore, buyers no longer need to rely on your sales team and the opening hours of local stores and can conveniently shop 24/7 on any given occasion from the comfort of their home.
- Improved brand awareness
A B2B E-Commerce platform provides businesses with an online presence. This allows you to promote your brand both locally and internationally. Thus, companies have the opportunity to increase brand awareness among people in target markets.
While other B2B market channels create similar benefits for increasing brand awareness, an E-Commerce platform, where your brand is visible, is the most important marketing tool for sustained online presence and visibility.
Optimised content is a quick way to improve the platform's search engine ranking and thus become better known within the target audience interested in your industry.
- B2B will increase your sales:
A B2B e-commerce site not only helps to reach new customers, but also offers the easy implementation of automated cross-selling and up-selling. This can increase sales by providing customers with relevant suggestions on the website. It can encourage them to buy related items or similar items with more features.
A good E-Commerce platform provides customers with relevant information, making the ordering process easier. By providing self-service features, B2B e-commerce websites allow customers to easily order or re-order based on previous purchases, including negotiated prices and personalised preferences. This can increase sales and improve the average order rate.
By selling in new markets and gaining access to new customers, as well as being open for taking orders 24/7, you can increase sales greatly and profit accordingly.
- Reduce costs:
Another benefit of B2B eCommerce is the potential to minimise costs while increasing sales.
By taking the bulk of your business processes online, you can save time and money in areas such as order entry, customer service and the provision of customer information. Automating these processes increases efficiency and eliminates unnecessary costs.
An effective B2B E-Commerce platform allows businesses to grow and easily scale to meet market demand and customer needs by opening new sales channels and continuously reaching new market segments.
By creating and testing compelling content for targeted B2B buyers, sellers can add value and respond quickly to changes in the market. In addition, by using extensible B2B e-commerce cloud solutions, companies can rework existing technologies and significantly improve their marketing and merchandising capabilities.
E-Commerce allows you to sell in foreign markets without the setup of a local office. This will allow you to scale up your business according to market demand and expand your brands reach.
- Improved efficiency and productivity
By integrating back-end business systems, E-Commerce can offer significant efficiency gains for B2B companies. Because customers can simply order online, businesses can better focus on customer service instead of just taking orders.
Automated ordering and workflows eliminate the need to reconfigure data in independent systems. This also reduces the possibility of errors as well as improving the efficiency of shipping processes and increasing order turnaround.
You can also integrate the E-Commerce platform with your customers' procurement systems to win new business and improve customer retention. This is especially promising in the B2B sector which is generally more reliant on return customers than B2C businesses.
- Gives you access to analytics:
B2B E-Commerce platforms offer companies the opportunity for comprehensive analytics campaigns. Through E-Commerce, businesses can measure and evaluate marketing campaigns, sales effectiveness, product mix, inventory turnover, customer sales effectiveness and customer retention. By integrating Google Analytics into the platform, you can gain access to a lot of valuable data and base future actions on this knowledge.
Analytics help to learn more about your customers and can help adapt your businesses marketing strategy. This can save costs by targeting the right customers in the best and most cost-effective way.
- Improves customer service:
Businesses can use E-Commerce to improve their customer service. E-commerce platforms can provide access to information on customer accounts, orders, history and tracking. By integrating with a company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, an E-Commerce platform can display customised products, services and prices based on the customer's login details.
E-Commerce is growing rapidly in the B2B sector. The trend has long been overlooked because the E-Commerce sector was long dominated by B2C business. This is also the case in Africa. Seeing the new growth trends in B2B E-Commerce and the trend towards moving more processes online, it would be negligent of B2B business to not establish suitable E-Commerce solutions. Today, this is an important factor in ensuring competitiveness.
B2B E-Commerce solutions bring many potentials and may enable companies to boost sales, enter new markets, improve customer service and customer retention, amongst many other advantages. On the other hand, by not implementing E-Commerce into the strategy, companies risk losing customers and being left behind by the competition. Offering E-Commerce solutions is therefore becoming a necessity for b2b companies rather than an extra service, that is merely nice to have.