B2B ecommerce is here to stay. And with improvements and innovations being tackled left and right, businesses have no choice but to transition to the digital platform that is changing the way businesses conduct their transactions.
A 2022 report done by McKinsey & Company shows that 65% of B2B companies have transitioned their transactions to being completely online and it’s easy to see why. A digital commerce space gives customers the tools to track their orders, receive quick updates from the supplier, and gain a personalized user experience.
With an estimated 12-24 million companies using ecommerce globally, Gartner predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur online by 2025. It’s clear that businesses are seeing a method to the madness of a total ecommerce transformation.
Ready to develop your B2B ecommerce portal? Here’s what you should know.
Why Is B2B Ecommerce Essential?
Ecommerce is growing exponentially as the preferred avenue for B2B buyers, and it isn’t slowing down. Suppliers’ top priority is to make the buyer journey run smoother and more efficiently with each update they make.
That’s no easy task. From personalization to self-service and everything in between, the opportunities for improvement are endless. With innovation at the forefront of the B2B buying experience, customers expect more than the basics and their suppliers must deliver on innovative improvements throughout the digital transformation.
Customer retention rates are a high priority in times of change. Unfortunately, loyal customers will turn to other companies if your business’ commerce strategies have been put on the backburner.
Our 2022 B2B Buyer Report showed that 85% of buyers would turn to a competitor if their supplier couldn’t keep up with the expectations they have for their digital channel. Today’s suppliers are tasked with optimizing omnichannel experiences, offering mobile access, and providing consistent product information throughout their experience within the ecommerce platform.
B2B ecommerce improves the buyer journey on both business and customer sides. Buyers receive fast and efficient transactions, personalized by the data being gathered within the platform at every click of the mouse. Businesses see tedious manual transactions covered by the platform’s intelligent software, and their sales team placing focus on improving the interactions that matter to the customer’s journey.
Organizations are finding that increased efficiency in the buying journey is a top result of switching to an ecommerce platform. Sales teams can guide their customers through the buying journey and advise them on the best products available. From there, the purchasing process is at the will of the buyer- anytime, anywhere. These solutions come from the pain points our B2B Buyer Report gathered from customers looking to find their trusted supplier.
What Kind of Industries Rely on B2B Ecommerce?
Having a B2B ecommerce strategy is useful in all industries whether it’s health and life sciences, manufacturing, financial services, or retail. As we advance towards more improved technology that can give buyers and sellers the quick information they need to complete a purchase, ecommerce improves the customer experience while allowing your team to operate more efficiently.
With all these avenues of updating and communicating, buyers can have a more consistent and efficient experience with their suppliers that will keep them coming back for more. The 2022 B2B Report showed that to retain long term business, buyers want suppliers to prioritize real time messaging, online ordering, emails, and videoconferencing. Personalization is also a key factor in retaining customer satisfaction.
Merz Aesthetics, a medical aesthetics company, saw a reduction in customer frustration and increase in brand loyalty after implementing B2B commerce strategies that enhanced the customer registration and purchase processes.
Parata Systems, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, was also able to shift to an improved B2B ecommerce solution that could handle their uptick in customers, unique checkout experience, and need for efficiency and accuracy.
CSA Group, the largest standards development group in North America, underwent a digital transformation that allowed it to apply ecommerce strategies to improve the checkout process and design of the user experience. This led to a decrease in bounce rate by 49% and 50% growth in online revenue.
B2B ecommerce website development was prioritized in these organizations, and they saw the fruit that it bore in their customers’ satisfaction.
If businesses want to raise the ceiling of success, they need to enact change in their buying process. An ecommerce portal drastically increases the market they can reach by providing a platform that adapts to the buyer’s personalized needs and product information demands. They are not limited by industry, only technology.
What Opportunities Exist in B2B Ecommerce Today?
Once you launch your ecommerce platform, your digital investment doesn’t end there. With each innovation, a new door is opened to raise your business’ digital standard and continuously meet customer expectations. Staying ahead of the game shows your buyers that you value their experiences.
According to our B2B report, 94% of buyers prefer to work with suppliers that continuously evolve their digital capabilities and experiment with offerings. Addressing those issues head on keeps your business at the forefront of the buyer’s mind.
Today’s buyers are experiencing pain points related to the buying process and their ability to access real life support through their journey within the platform.
Positive and helpful communication is a key factor in a buyer’s desire to work with a supplier. A supplier that utilizes customer data to guide them through personalized sales advising brings efficiency and care into the buyer’s experience. Less time is spent getting to know the customer because businesses already have data on past and present orders, allowing them to focus on the future of their relationship with the buyer.
The foundation of a good relationship is transparency. Whether that’s a change to the ordered items, the date, or shortage of scheduled items, buyers want the information at most two hours after it’s known. Changes to these aspects of a business’ user experience sets them apart from the competition.
Real-time feedback and updates are becoming the golden standard for a positive customer experience. Having supply, shipping, and processing data at your fingertips with an ecommerce platform makes real-time data achievable.
What are the Top B2B Ecommerce Trends in 2022?
Trends stem from common issues, and as ecommerce evolves, so do the common problems. A survey given to B2B buyers shows that they continue to raise their expectations of the buyer experience as new innovations arise within the digital world.
Buyers want to know what they’re getting before they buy
Today’s buyers are looking to multiple online sources for product and pricing information but are still left disappointed with outdated or inaccurate descriptions. In fact, 51% of buyers said they want suppliers to ensure their product information is up to date and accurate. Make your buyer’s decisions easier and faster by providing all the information they need, when and where they need it.
Complicated platforms are driving buyers away
Efficiency starts with a customer’s ability to navigate an ecommerce platform with as little effort as possible. We’ve become accustomed to the ability to casually scroll through retail sites and purchase a pair of shoes anytime, anywhere. B2B ecommerce websites and apps shouldn’t be any different. 38% of buyers want them to be more user friendly, and 28% want them to be mobile-friendly.
Buyers want all their transaction history in one place
Paper invoices are a thing of the past. 27% of buyers today want digital invoicing to free up the time it takes to manage cash flow, track expenses, and connect directly to their bank feed. With all this purchasing history in one place they can rest easy knowing that they are receiving the most accurate data from the source of the transaction.
Efficiency extends to the customers checkout process
No fuss platforms are a common theme, and according to our B2B Report’s data, 27% of buyers think streamlining online checkout should boast the same idea. Here is where you can take notes from B2C websites and implement a structure that gives the buyer options on shipping, tracking, and memberships. It’s clear, concise, and keeps the buyer informed and advised every step of the way.
The development of a B2B ecommerce website can be a hard transition for many suppliers, but the expectation is that they come out better for it in the end. The shift towards a platform that can solve these pain points for buyers, is one that will be trusted to fulfill the needs and requirements their customers have for a positive user experience.
What are the Keys to a Successful B2B Ecommerce Portal?
As shown in our 2022 B2B Report, buyers aren’t looking for a scavenger hunt to find the products they need and the people that can help them. There is no power in a pretty website that lacks the capabilities to uniquely target each customer’s needs. Keeping it simple with personalization at the center of your mind will start you on the path to a successful ecommerce portal.
Personalization has always been a priority in marketing efforts. Whether it’s an email campaign that caters to an industry or targeted ads based on previous clicks, they perform half the battle when it comes to buyers finding the right vendor for their organization’s supply needs. And it works – after personalizing their digital channels, JLL saw a 75% increase in purchase orders and 40% decrease in bounce rate.
Now they are requiring the same kind of experience from the ecommerce portal. Businesses need to take full advantage of their sites analytical capabilities to better target their customer’s needs. Using past purchases, sales teams can make informed suggestions to their customers and build the relationship that keeps them coming back.
Strategically placing contact points throughout your site have been shown to turn a visitor into a customer quicker than if they were left to their own devices. Understanding how new customers think is crucial, and the analytical capabilities behind a white paper or webinar form provide insights on the buying journey.