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The risks of staying only with traditional B2B channels

“The pandemic’s most enduring impact will be as an accelerant” Scott Galloway, Post Corona

It’s no secret that the key to survival is diversification.  Pre-pandemic B2B eCommerce was already seeing growth, across the board.  Now, it’s just going crazy! According to Forrester, B2B e-commerce transactions will reach $1.8 trillion by 2023 😅

We are witnessing a post pandemic behavioural shift: the modern buyer has arrived and expects faster and easier buying experiences. Just like your sales team, they’re working from home. It’s time to adapt.

The B2B buyer is looking for a B2C style experience over and above a login portal. Introducing a digital sales channel/e-commerce platform not only now makes sense, it will help you stay on track in terms of future revenue growth.

Without the introduction of online sales, your business’s growth will slow down.

Why the moving to digital commerce makes sense for B2B

According to the Gartner Future of Sales 2025 report, “by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.” If you want to keep up with your clients’ needs, introducing a digital sales channel not only makes sense, but is also a strategic opportunity for business growth.

7 advantages of creating an e-commerce channel for B2B

  1. Data and processes are streamlined
  2. A wider audience can be reached
  3. Personalization is now possible
  4. A client-centric approach
  5. Improved operational efficiency
  6. Better supply chain communication
  7. Increased revenue

Streamlining data flows

Moving to an integrated digital platform means that business processes will be more streamlined. As a result, data will also be streamlined and integrated. All data is stored in the back-end and is easily accessible via an API. This will allow you to make business decisions faster.

A wider reach

With a fully functional online sales channel, your business will be more easily accessible via search engines and other digital platforms (social media etc.). With an online presence word of mouth takes on a whole new level and new marketing techniques or angles become accessible.

Personalization is redefined

Adding digital sales will make it possible to leverage the data you collect to customize your sales message to each target. In the case of B2B commerce, personalization is not about trying to wow the customer into an impulse buy, upsell or cross sell. For personalization to work in B2B it has to be about adding value and efficiency.

A client-centric approach

B2B e-commerce will allow you to think about what your buyer needs first. Today’s (and tomorrow’s!) buyer has matured in a digital world, and expects to be able to go from consideration to purchase online, just like they would with their personal purchases. By meeting your buyer’s needs in the channel of their choice you can expect a smoother and faster sales process, leaving your sales team more time to prospect new clients.

Operational efficiency

We’ve talked about streamlined processes and data, this alone will enable your teams to improve efficiency. But there are also many other advantages to help operations run more smoothly. Multi-site management, for example, becomes easier. With a headless commerce approach a business can add and manage multiple websites from the same platform (international versions, sub-brands etc.) using a single, underlying infrastructure of code and content. Meaning the core content can be reused for every new site launch.

Improve supply chain communication

With an online platform, you have the opportunity to prioritize your customer relationships. Headless commerce has a direct impact on technology evolution and IT transformation initiatives on the supply chain side. Your business will experience seamless order tracking,  better transparency for your clients and a faster time to market. By utilizing the data available a business can identify and work on different areas of its supply chain operations, and without affecting each and every platform composant

Increased revenue

All of the previous points are an opportunity to generate more revenue, a better ROI and a higher conversion rate. But all this does not come without a few challenges that must be planned for.

7 reasons to introduce a digital sales channel: Download the PDF

The challenges of digital transformation

Moving towards a digital strategy will diversify your sales channels and future-proof your business. However there are a certain number of challenges that must be overcome.

  • Fear of change: new technology is a barrier that is hard to remove. It may seem like complete disruption, but the benefits will outweigh the implementation process.
  • Upfront investment & costs: depending on the strategy a business adopts, initial costs can be high. Luckily with a modern ecommerce platform, it is possible to limit costs and spend as you grow.
  • New channel, new skills: Internal hiring may be necessary for daily management of an e-commerce, not to mention the use of an external agency for advice, implementation & maintenance.
  • Payment: financial transactions can be complicated, payment in multiples, across long periods …

Headless and composable commerce platforms are now opening up to the B2B market. These modern technologies adapt to nearly every use case, making it easier to de-risk the challenges outlined above and digitize your business.

Modern e-commerce solutions exist

Legacy platforms

In spite of the addition of new features and cloud based services to many legacy systems, they are still attached to their original infrastructure. This makes it inherently difficult to evolve towards an API-first system built for today’s digital-first client. 

Legacy implies that the system is completely outdated, but solutions exist to allow businesses to move slowly towards an API-first approach. If you already have a B2B commerce system in place, find out how Zento & Front-Commerce can help you move towards a more modern system without an entire replatform.

Choosing, or sticking with, a legacy e-commerce platform will slow you down in the long run, especially if you are looking for scale. Legacy systems were not purpose built for you and your business. So adapting it to your evolving and ever more specific needs is nigh on impossible.

Not being able to access the modern solutions will create the following problems:

    • The security issues with a legacy platform come from outdated systems that are easier to hack.
    • Revenue can be substantially lower over time if you use a legacy platform that does not meet your customers needs in terms of sales process, client support, UX efficiency …
  • Your teams’ productivity can be hindered. An outdated platform will not move at the speed your teams need to in order to keep up with demand.

The advantages of modern platforms

Speed, flexibility, extensibility, scalability and reliability are the topline advantages of a modern decoupled (or headless) platform.

  • Easy to manage and implement
  • Allow for focus on essential growth 
  • Simple to connect best-of-breed services together: buying, purchasing, supply chain, payment, your IS components and apps
  • Mobile efficiency becomes a standard feature*
  • Improved productivity
  • Scalable: evolving the platform alongside the business’ needs.

*N.B. In today’s world performance and user experience are synonymous. An online user experience must be optimised for mobile and in a powerful way. When you design your e-commerce web experience, don’t just consider how it looks, but how it works. Page speed is increasingly important. If a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of users will abandon a site.

Learn more about implementing a modern e-commerce platform by contacting one of our experts.

Conclusion

The benefits of creating a digital sales channel for your B2B business outweigh the challenges of putting it in place. Increased revenue, more leads, better visibility, operational efficiency … 

Your clients and prospects are digitally enabled and are looking online! The question is, are you making it possible for your prospects to find you online?

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