With the B2B commerce or the business-to-business online marketing and distribution of products industry rapidly booming, having a B2B eCommerce site is incredibly important to succeed at the digital commerce game.
B2B online sales are expected to surpass $1 trillion in the USA alone by 2021, which is precisely why hundreds of thousands of American manufacturers are moving quickly into developing B2B eCommerce sites (or already have).
Businesses need to understand how digital commerce can benefit the various aspects of B2B eCommerce and create an overall positive digital shopping experience for buyers. It is equally important to realize the value of increasing efficiency with a digitally-enabled sales team, aligning your sales tools, structure, processes, and improving your digital security.
In this article, we talk about the top techniques to build and grow a successful B2B eCommerce business.
Treat B2B eCommerce Customers As You Would B2C
Massive shifts have occurred in the B2B marketplace as a result of the rise of digital commerce. America is prosperous, with unemployment rates at historic lows and with total personal income expenditures reaching $64.9 billion by November of 2019. As a result, for 2020, over 270 million Americans are expected to make online purchases at least once.
Thanks to the significant rise of eCommerce, there are huge changes occurring when it comes to practices in the B2B digital marketplace world, many of which parallel those that have been adopted in the B2C (business to customer) world as well.
These include, but are not limited to – a strong onsite search with displays of visual merchandise, mobile storefronts, personalization features from past purchases, quality customer service via chat and phone support, high-quality product videos and images, and the use of emotional storytelling in marketing campaigns.
B2B and B2C are different, and they should never be treated the same. B2B marketing, for example, largely focuses on more logically driven purchasing decisions utilizing technical jargon, while B2C will focus more on emotionally driven purchasing decisions.
But in the end, there’s no reason to not treat the experience of your business-to-business customers the same as you would business-to-consumer customers. After all, the high-level buyers in the B2B world are still people just like the average consumer.
Digitally Transform Your Business
One of the primary keys to any successful B2B digital commerce business is the digital transformation which is all about changing the way your business engages with customers to match the way buyers purchase and then use their products. Digitally transforming means realigning your business processes to make it easier for your buyers to buy, use, and receive value out of the products you sell them.
You can accomplish this by equipping your sales team with the right tools, training to better meet the changing needs of customers, setting productivity initiatives, integrating digital technology into all areas of your business and helping it deliver value to your customers, and rebuilding your entire business model from the ground up.
In this day and age, B2B customers expect access to relevant and valuable content anywhere and on any kind of device. This is really what B2B marketing is all about.
With that in mind, you can expect your business to undertake the following steps to undergo a proper digital transformation: develop online content sites to ensure that your business has a digital presence with user guides, product information & customer support, create an eCommerce platform complete with flexible payment options, empower your sales team with the digital tools they need, provide your customers with the digital tools they need, and offer mobile-optimized self-service capabilities online for those customers.
It’s also crucial to make sure that your sales team is fully involved early in the transformation process. A digitally enabled sales team will ultimately be necessary for a proper customer relationship as well.
Overcome Digital Security Threats
Easily the number one concern among B2B businesses today revolves around digital commerce security challenges.
Digital commerce comes with numerous benefits, but it also comes with an array of significant security threats as well. What’s worse is that many B2B companies are hardly prepared to resist cyber-attacks.
For example, one-third of all business owners lack the IT capabilities to recover from a DNS attack, and many will go out of business within six months of their servers being attacked.
Too many B2B businesses also trick themselves into believing that having any security at all means that they will be effectively protected against cybercriminals. This is not true.
The good news is that better security-first education and training is often all that is needed to either significantly reduce the risk of a cyber-attack or to stop them outright. In fact, 38% of all business cyber attacks could have been avoided with proper measures.
Examples of cybersecurity measures that B2B businesses should be adopting include, at the bare minimum: enforcing safe password practices (consider using a password manager to create and regularly rotate out strong passwords), utilizing closed source code rather than open-source, requiring all employees to use a VPN when connecting to the internet to maintain a secure network, and biometric security to verify the identity of users before providing them with access to valuable business assets.
With Millennials being the biggest and most significant target group, B2B commerce is going to observe tremendous growth in the near future. And this means enormous opportunities for businesses looking to explore the digital space.
To live up to the audiences’ expectations, businesses should adopt digital commerce at all stages of the product’s life cycle. The strategies covered above are crucial in today’s marketplace for building and growing a successful B2B eCommerce business. With high demands, advanced technologies, and interesting tools, the most exciting time to crack the digital B2B eCommerce is certainly now!