In the past years, major corporations have invested to grasp B2B e-commerce market share. Alibaba not only connects Chinese exporters with companies all around the globe, but is aiming at diversifying its suppliers outside of China. Amazon has its marketplace for the office, although not having the same suppliers.
As we now see it, many B2B marketplaces have emerged and are focusing on one thing: centralizing sales through a web portal. Many are specializing in various industries.
Most of these platforms are enabling commodities to be purchased easily. In other words, people don’t buy $100,000 machines on the Web yet, even though we thought the same about cars 20 years ago. But what about replacing pieces of equipment, office supplies, and so on?
We noted that buyers are using more and more digital platforms because they make all these products available at the click of a finger.Who doesn’t want their work to be easier?
What are the benefits?
B2B is all about buying rationally and having multiple decision makers throughout the sales funnel. The first advantage of B2B e-commerce would be that processing digitally an order helps save on time and errors.
Second major advantage is customer data! Learn more on consumer behaviours and statistics. Discover what your prospects are looking at, reading, clicking on, asking about, comparing, etc.
Someone said to me once, “it’s not what they buy that interests me, it’s what they don’t buy.” Well, proper tools and e-commerce can help you achieve that.
How to prepare?
Identify key trends in your industry and consumer behaviours. Maybe the wind has already shifted and you have to keep up. Or maybe the wave is behind you and you can lead it.
Make small steps. IT projects almost always fail because companies try to do a put-all-features-in-this-thing project. No, you don’t need a full connected, real time, multi-warehouse inventory, multi-language e-commerce shop with all your SKUs.
Why not start simple, with a small portion of your products available on a private portal? Make this accessible to key clients. Give them discounts for using the portal. Solicit their feedback. Then improve on this.
The worst thing to do would be to say, “e-commerce is not going to affect my business.”
Yes, maybe your industry still works with catalogues and phone calls, and I personally think these will never disappear. But you are just missing out on another opportunity to grab data on your customers and improve your sales funnel.
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