B2B clients are asking for it
Hot stock tip – 7.4% compound annual growth rate, 7.4%! You don’t want to miss out! We’ve all been around this person at some point in our lives – over coffee, in the gym, cornered at the bar in an uncomfortable cocktail party. It’s the tip without much substance, but in this case, we can confirm that there is an arena that is growing, and that is B2B e-commerce growing at a 7.4% compound clip.
Forrester Research indicates that B2B e-commerce sales hit $889 billion last year and based on solid growth patterns will by all accounts reach $1.2 trillion by 2021. These are somewhat daunting numbers, we know, but the whole industry more than doubles (sales) that of B2C and while $1.2 trillion is a heck of a lot of money, the market is far from saturated.
Jumping into a B2B e-commerce solution for your business is an important step in 2018. In fact, B2B sellers who are not offering an e-commerce solution run a tremendous risk especially as Google found that 89% of B2B researchers jumping online first during the process. If 89% are already researching online then providing a hassle-free, enjoyable and efficient B2B buying experience would be the logical next step. Like any arena, trends are plenty and here are some critical ones to keep an eye on.
Trends to keep an eye on
Millennials Heavily Influencing B2B Buying Decisions
Millennials, millennials, millennials. We know, you’re tired of hearing about millennials, but as Google discovered, half of the B2B buyers were millennials in 2015, doubling from 2012. Think about this – BlackBerrys had been on the market for a handful of years and accessing search engines was a regular day-to-day practice when millennials joined the workforce. Digital isn’t something they’ve adopted, it’s hard-wired. Adapting your B2B business practices to streamlined channels is not only a smart move, but it’s also the move your competitor will or has already made. Sales reps provided individualized experiences to Gen X buyers. A millennial expects and demands something different.
Transparency is a Critical Driver in B2B Customer Acquisition Strategy
What’s the Holy Grail for any business? Acquiring customers in the least expensive manner possible. B2B firms are no different from B2C when it comes to customer acquisition. Word of mouth, social media, and SEO/SEM are critical drivers. As the B2B News Network points out, integrity, loyalty, and sustainability are the key drivers of B2B2C relationships. We all recognize shopping online is less personal, and as such something needs to replace face-to-face relationships. A high level of visibility, information surrounding the company, bringing a face to a somewhat anonymous click, this is critical. Reputation depends in large part on ease of purchase, making sure the process is easy to navigate and quick to check-out. Once positive word of mouth spreads in conjunction with social media and SEO/SEM, the B2B e-commerce site will begin to lower transactional costs which everyone enjoys.
ERP Integration is a Cornerstone to B2B e-Commerce Success
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration is here to stay – and grow. It should be self-evident at this point that with most B2B businesses, complexity is ever-present. Complex products, ordering processes, attributes, the list is endless. The goal is to create a B2C experience for B2B customers and to do that e-commerce ERP integration is critical.
B2B e-commerce is fantastic for wholesalers and brands alike, providing a self-service platform available 24/7 to order, track and monitor. However, until recently, many firms maintained their e-commerce platform separate from their ERP system. But this is a mistake in 2018 as the ERP system is the lifeblood of most B2B firms. To ultimately build upon and improve the customer experience (front office), the ERP (back office) better be in tip-top shape.
E-commerce ERP Integration, we must admit, was challenging in years past, but nowadays agile and knowledgeable providers will leverage a strong, discreet-style integration which fully automates the connectivity between the e-commerce and the ERP.
Customer Experience is the New Branding Strategy
An awesome B2B e-commerce experience is as much about ease and speed as it is enjoyment. We’re not talking the type of enjoyment of a private Beyoncé concert or driving a Ferrari cost-free for a week. But enjoyment (for millennials) on e-commerce platforms comes from dynamic applications and virtual assistants. Who doesn’t enjoy the aid of a non-invasive assistant on a site to help you navigate and answer any pending concerns? You’re suddenly VIP without having accomplished anything!
Along those same lines, dynamic applications where the buyer can visually see how products and services will fit within their business environment brings a purchase to a whole new level. Seeing instead of purchasing based on specs alone is another level of value added.
Experts in the Game
k-eCommerce is a scalable e-commerce solution fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics and SAP Business One, leveraging nearly 20 years of expertise in helping organizations with their digital transformation strategies focusing on seamless business integration and industry best practices. From order to self-service, k-eCommerce provides customers with a consistent, dynamic user experience across all channels and devices. An industry-leading solution, world-class hosting and security all bundled into one – k-eCommerce, the smart B2B e-commerce solution.