As a sales organization, your main function and purpose is to generate sales. Your customer has options available to them, yet your goal is to keep them loyal to purchasing from you. But, buyer expectations and habits have been rapidly evolving, and that is only going to accelerate. So, it is even more critical than ever to make sure you are giving your customers every opportunity to maximize their purchasing from you.
Business As Usual
Business to Business (B2B) sales transactions have traditionally been processed in the following manner: via phone, via email, via instant message, even via fax. And it’s worked this way for years upon years. So why not continue doing things in this manner? There is always that off-in-the-distance idea of B2B e-Commerce, but is that really worth doing? No matter what your preconceived notion or feeling may be on this idea, the numbers and their underlying reasons reveal a stark and definite answer that cannot be ignored: B2B e-Commerce has become a necessity.
Numbers and trends
Now everyone knows the success story of online Business to Consumer (B2C) retailers such as Amazon and eBay. Their success has changed the way we live and operate in today’s society. In fact, some of the world’s largest brick-and-mortar businesses, such as Walmart and Target, saw how important e-Commerce was becoming in the changing world in which we live, and they made the important decision to evolve their long-standing business model. They found it critical to their success to ensure that they could take care of their customers with a multi-channel approach. The goal of this multi-channel approach is simple: make it simple and convenient for your customer to purchase from you in different ways that the customer prefers. And the results are very enlightening. A report from research firm Statista shows that retail consumer still does the vast majority of shopping in the traditional sense, but the landscape is shifting with steady momentum.
The trend line continues to increase year over year at a steady incline; with the consensus of analysts believing this trend upward will continue.
But B2B is a different game, right? Well yes, and no. B2B has always been a different sale, with additional complexities and factors involved. But at the end of the day, the transactional sales, such as buying and selling products, have started being processed via B2B e-Commerce as well. You can follow the same pattern in the trend that retail shows in B2C e-Commerce. In fact, a report from the research firm Forrester predicts that B2B e-Commerce sales will increase from an already 12% of total B2B sales in 2018, to 17% in 2023. This is not an insignificant number or passing fad, and it’s only projected to increase from there.
So with conventional thinking, we may try to convince ourselves that B2B e-Commerce may not be relevant, but the numbers tell us something completely different. And if some of the leaders in business like Walmart and Target have found it necessary to take this trend seriously, and done something about it, then you must as well. But let’s also look at this in another way of thinking.
The B2B buyer is changing. The reality is that we are in a period of generational transition. According to research conducted by Google in 2015, we have been moving from Gen X and Gen Y being the majority of buyers, and entering into an era with Millenials as largest group of B2B buyers. And this is a generation that is traditionally comfortable conducting their day-to-day online. They value the ability to be able to do this, and they believe they can be more efficient and effective conducting business this way. And if you look at the successes of this generation, it’s hard to argue with their methods. Much of the exponential growth we have seen in business is from using technology to propel us forward at rates we’ve never before seen. So this cannot be discounted as we look at the numbers and trends, because logically it makes sense. We don’t want to potentially slow down the transaction or create inefficiencies, instead we want to strive to speed up the transaction, and technology provides a way to accomplish that. Therefore, we need embrace the opportunity and maximize the potential that it brings.
Having a good multi-channel approach that includes the opportunity to purchase online helps to give your buyers the options. They can shop in the manner that best suits their needs, as they seek to perform their job in the most efficient manner possible as well. As we can see from the numbers, this is becoming increasingly important.
What happens next?
Take a moment to think about the way you shop in your own personal life? Everyone is slightly different in their preferences, but most likely you value convenience and a simple transaction without extra hoops to jump through in order to get what you have come to purchase. For many buyers, the convenience of being able to perform their purchasing on their own schedule, is extremely important to them. This has significant value to many, and should not be overlooked.
Now, from your customer’s point of view, are you giving them the options that they would want in order to make their purchasing experience as convenient and as simple as possible? Chances are that you already have a multi-channel approach for your customers to submit orders, as we discussed earlier: via phone, fax, instant message, etc. But, if you don’t already have a B2B e-Commerce solution in place as well, then you are missing out on the one sales channel that is expanding at a rapid pace, and in turn, starting to encroach on the former preferred purchasing methods. It is true, e-Commerce in B2B isn’t going replace the other channels. It is not meant to be an all or nothing approach. But both trends and reasoning show that its going to continue to squeeze the other channels, and a good multi-channel approach is what is really necessary in order to maintain the proper balance.
So, with all of that being said, I would ask the following question: Can you afford to risk deterioration of 17% of your sales? What does a 17% reduction in sales look like in your operation? The research and trends show that this is where things are heading if no action is taken. Neglecting to recognize and take action on this trend opens up an opportunity for a competitor to step into this space. Because like with all opportunities that arise, someone will always act.
So how do you move forward?
If you already have implemented a B2B e-Commerce solution in your operation, then you are already ahead of the curve. Your strategy at this point should be to start to fine-tune your multi-channel approach and make it more into an omni-channel approach. An omni-channel approach seeks to make the customer experience seamless, regardless of the transactional touchpoint by your buyer. Ideally, you want your buyer to have a good experience and service no matter if they are purchasing from by phone, email, online, mobile app, or whatever the method is. That goes a long way towards loyalty and keeping your customer happy, regardless of their touchpoint with your organization.
If you don’t have a B2B e-Commerce solution in your operation, hopefully I have stirred you to take a hard and serious look at the necessity and benefit of implementing B2B e-Commerce in your operation. Your options now are to put it off and do nothing, or to move forward and find a B2B e-Commerce solution that will capture the potential within this trend. Thankfully, there are options already out there. Some options you want to consider in choosing a B2B e-Commerce solution should include:
- Full integration with your sales and inventory platform
- Makes it efficient and simple for your clients to conduct their purchasing
- Automates the transactions behind the scenes to ensure operational efficiency
- Must be scalable, so that you don’t outgrow it
- Provides an integrated mobile app for yet another way to place orders with you
At Komet Sales, we can help floral companies get started with a single solution that provides all of the features listed above, plus many more. Many of our clients came to us not having an e-Commerce solution, and are now processing 10-20% of their total sales through e-Commerce, and as high as 40%.
The biggest fear of clients before they start with us is not knowing how or where to start. We understand that, so have made it very easy. We simply invite you to connect with us so that we can get you all set up with your own successful B2B e-Commerce platform. It will revolutionize your business and ensure you are equipped to maximize your sales opportunities going forward, and keep your customers happy as the buyer continues to evolve. Your only regret will be that you didn’t do it sooner.
Are you ready to move forward towards having an e-Commerce solution in your operation? Do you have further questions? Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (786) 206-0554, and connect on LinkedIn.