After talking with many experts in the B2B eCommerce space, it’s been clear that there are four main areas preventing faster B2B eCommerce adoption today.
1. Sales Reps
Sales representatives should not only align with but also actively drive growth through B2B eCommerce. According to a recent comprehensive study by Forrester Research, 74% of B2B buyers now utilize online channels as a primary means to gather information about products and services. Therefore, it is imperative that sales departments wholeheartedly embrace the objectives of B2B eCommerce. To make it happen, companies should make their sales teams feel empowered with eCommerce solutions so they would not see it as a threat to their jobs. Without their unwavering support, it will be harder to succeed in B2B eCommerce.
Here are a few actionable tips on how you can encourage your sales teams to drive online engagement:
a. Make sure the right incentives are in place and align their commission with B2B eCommerce.
b. Adjust B2B sales rep quota just like Dell did in 2017 and saw a remarkable 20% increase in online revenue within the first year.
c. Revise the internal processes in place and modify the sales workflows to accommodate B2B e-commerce.
d. Introduce comprehensive ongoing training for B2B sales reps and managers to emphasize how embracing eCommerce can enhance their skills.
e. Ensure your web store is reliable to empower both your customers and sales teams and enable a more customer-centric approach while freeing up sales staff for high-value opportunities.
f. Celebrate achievements and milestones by sharing success stories while keeping both reps and management informed about the transformative impact through key metrics.
And finally, start with the internal processes and the company operations! If your own company is fighting against the initiative, it will never succeed.
2. Pricing & Availability
B2B purchases are complex, involving multiple stakeholders, an extended sales cycle and high-value contracts. According to Marketing Chart, 63% of B2B buying committees consist of at least three decision-makers. Moreover, many companies have special agreements with businesses to provide customized pricing for them based on long-term relationships that have lasted for years. This adds additional complexity to publishing your price terms online.
So, how can we address this challenge? Implementing pricing tiers offers a strategic solution. To accommodate varying contract terms and provide tailored pricing, you can establish a structured framework for determining these rates. Remember to update your pricing across all the communication channels, both online and offline, because inconsistent pricing can quickly change how customers perceive your brand.
If you can’t get the correct price that you negotiated or know what’s available, why would you buy online? If customers cannot access the negotiated prices they expect or remain uncertain about product availability, their motivation to make online purchases dwindles. As the B2B landscape increasingly shifts towards online platforms, businesses that fail to provide transparent pricing online run the risk of lagging behind their competition, emphasizing the paramount importance of addressing this critical aspect of eCommerce.
3. Shipping & Logistics
Often the shipping and logistics in B2B are much more complicated than in B2C. eCommerce shipping encompasses receiving and processing orders, picking and packing the purchased product at a warehouse, printing shipping labels, and even managing returns. It’s not as easy to get a real-time quote or estimate of when the item will arrive. Usually, not having this information readily available online could force customers to call or email to place orders.
So, how do you deliver the same top-quality experience online? As you scale your online B2B eCommerce business, you will need logistics support to help fulfill B2B orders. Outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics (3PL) partner like ShipBob provides you access to a robust fulfillment distribution network and advanced technology to help you optimize your supply chain.
4. Payment Options
In contrast to B2C retail where processing the payment is fairly straightforward, B2B customers are accustomed to paying with terms that may be negotiated along with prices. It’s not uncommon for net 30 and net 60 options with discounts for early payment to be offered. Not having flexible payment options could be a deal breaker for buying online. If I can get better net terms offline, why would I buy online? You need the ability to offer all the payment options they would get on other channels. This also includes seeing and paying down old invoices if you are buying with net terms/company credit.
If you’re looking for additional support with online transformation, we’re here to help with our vast expertise in B2B eCommerce and agnostic approach to find the best solution tailored for your business. Contact us for a free consultation to scale your business.