Magento’s Study Shows B2B Digital Commerce Maturity Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction: “B2B companies lean heavily on eCommerce to drive customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and productivity goals. Nearly half of participants say B2B eCommerce efforts specifically help them win, serve, and retain customers. Almost 80% of “digitally-mature” companies surveyed report that their current set of B2B eCommerce technologies have been “very” or “extremely helpful” in improving their overall customer satisfaction and revenue.”
Competitive B2B companies are becoming more efficient with their digital processes, such as B2B ecommerce. They are using technology in order to:
- Improve customer experience and attain customer centricity
- Change the company sales culture towards a more relevant and innovative culture
- Drive growth, both from new as well as existing customers
- Increase operational efficiency (and free up resources to be allocated to higher-value activities, such as moving salespeople to accounts which require high-touch sales)
In this post, we will explore the underlying trends that are supporting B2B ecommerce.
1. Improve customer experience, attain customer centricity
Businesses have been aiming for and promising customer centricity for years. Today, technology offers the tools for these businesses to deliver on this promise, empowering the front office with tools that enable the organization to more responsive to B2B customers.
According to CloudCraze (Winning in the Age of the Connected Customer - How Cloud Commerce Is Transforming the B2B Sales Function)
“Business buyers have come to expect a purchasing experience that is every bit as smooth and intuitive as what they’ve become accustomed to in the retail world. But it also demonstrates that because business relationships are more complicated than retail relationships, expectations, in many cases, are even higher. Business buyers increasingly want the best of both worlds—a seamless self-service option when that suits them and a trusted partner who can anticipate their needs when that makes sense.”
Generational Differences (aka “The Millennials”)
Millennials represent the new generation of digitally-savvy customers with high expectations regarding online purchase experiences. A “consumerization” of the purchase process in B2B will accelerate as more Millennials enter the workforce and attain positions where they are able to make key purchasing decisions. Today, we are not far away from that moment. According to a recent study from Heinz Marketing, we are actually already there.
Heinz Marketing (The Millennials are Here) found out that:
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“13% of Millennials are already making purchasing decisions, while another 28% are influencing them. B2B marketing and sales professionals who assume Millennials only impact the B2C world are mistaken.”
2. Change the company sales culture towards a more relevant and innovative culture
Need for a Sales Cultural Change
Traditional companies know that they need to change the way their sales reps operate, and the implementation of new processes and of a B2B ecommerce platform are often the catalyst of this change.
According to this whitepaper by Salesforce (The B2B Ecommerce Playbook):
“The sales culture for a typical B2B company has historically focused on making calls and filling quotas — not devising easier ways for customers to interact with the company’s brand. As more and more B2B buyers gravitate toward online and mobile solutions, the winning vendors will be those who can best meet customers on their own terms. In a developing country, where most small business owners tap the Internet via smart phone, that may mean focusing primarily on mobile solutions. In other markets, a broader mix of functionality may take precedence.”
Self-service (for Repeat Orders)
According to McKinsey, buyers do not need to talk to sales people when they are repeating orders (When B2B buyers want to go digital—and when they don’t)
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“When it comes to actually making a purchase, 46 percent of buyers say they would be willing to buy from a supplier’s website if the option were available and the service efficient. That compares with just 10 percent who make an online B2B purchase today.”
3. Drive growth, both from new as well as existing customers
Companies have gained a better understanding of how they can better engage online with their prospects even though in the B2B space there are still many misconceptions about what digital can achive (see our recent post: Five reasons why digital marketing is relevant for traditional B2B SMEs in Singapore). Personalization, smarter cross-selling and up-selling, and improved communications are benefits that an online engagement and ecommerce strategy can bring to companies.
According to Salesforce (Why Digital will Become the Primary Channel for B2B Engagement):
“Today’s B2B organizations are counting on digital to move the needle. While traditional systems have been helpful for building face-to-face relationships, B2B organizations recognize that digital channels provide new opportunities to be proactive about customer needs. In fact, nine in 10 (89 percent) B2B business decision makers attribute expected business growth to their digital programs’ ability to attract and retain customers and increase average order value.”
Digital = Growth
Blame Amazon :-), but companies taking on digital transformation expect more growth coming from digital channels, not just because they sell online. It's a full review of the online buyers' journeys. According to BigCommerce's B2B Ecommerce Trends Report:
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“Despite being slow to adopt ecommerce, B2B brands are increasingly looking to digital means to boost sales – a move driven by the success of Amazon Business and the changing B2B buyer demographic.”
4. Increase operational efficiency
Tech for Operational Efficiency
Automation of manual processes contributes to greater efficiency and allows for re-allocation of resources to higher value activities. As this Magento (A Playbook for B2B Companies Launching eCommerce Capabilities) white paper outlines:
“Many B2B companies invest in eCommerce as a means of reaching new customers as they strive to meet growth targets. Other organizations turn to eCommerce as a way to conduct sales (and service) more efficiently in the face of resource constraints.”
Whether it’s about reducing the cost of order taking, reducing order entry errors, or shifting sales resources to high-touch B2B customers, all are sources of operational efficiencies brought by e-commerce. According to this Entrepreneur article:
“The operational cost-savings of implementing B2B ecommerce and integrating those transactions to accounting or ERP systems can give a higher return on investment than even the revenue impact. By eliminating the manual processing of orders, business owners save payroll costs, eliminate expensive order-entry errors and improve customer service. This does require that buyers be educated and informed that the preferred method of submitting orders is online. Even offering financial incentives or preferential treatment of orders can change customer habits.”