Online-Resistant B2B Buyers: How to Convert Them to eCommerce
As a smart B2B eCommerce business, you know that 89% of B2B buyers want to make more of their purchases through sellers like you that offer robust eCommerce offerings, but what do you do with the other 11% that are reluctant to shift online?
In today’s digital world, B2B eCommerce is undergoing a rapid evolution and is starting to emulate the mindset and tactics that make B2C eCommerce companies so successful. While an increasing amount of B2B customers now expect the ability to order online, there are still some customers that gravitate toward traditional offline channels to place their orders despite having to spend hours flipping through a dense paper catalog.
According to a new Accenture Digital study, the biggest barrier to getting B2B customers to transition online buying is their resistance to change. Many B2B customers tend to stay with a process they are familiar with, even when a new approach could be more beneficial to them.
In fact, the study states that 64% of B2B organizations claim that their long-term customers’ reluctance to try new technologies is putting the brakes on their shift to moving to online ordering.
Breaking the Habit: Taking Your B2B Buyers Online
So how do you get your more traditional B2B customers to switch to online ordering? First, you need to reassure them that will they continue to be valued as they always have, and that by using your B2B eCommerce ordering platform, they will also benefit from the following:
1. 24/7 digital self-service
When using offline channels, B2B customers must place orders within certain time slots and interact and coordinate with different parties at the same time. They must also wait in line to place an order due to typical service representatives to customers ratios that tend to increase wait times to as much as several hours (even though they may need something instantly).
Conversely, a B2B online store never sleeps, even if it’s the middle of the night or during a bank holiday. Your B2B eCommerce portal acts like a sales representative who’s available 24/7 and, in real time, allows your customers to:
- browse products and their availability
- review the latest pricing discounts and deals
- place orders instantly and track order status
And when B2B customers perform their own research and purchase products and services online, they are also able to:
- reduce transaction time since they no longer need to rely on back-and-forth emails or phone calls to place their orders
- minimize the potential for human error
- “get the job done” in just a couple of minutes, saving a significant amount of time and resources
2. Simplify the process with everything in one place
With online ordering, B2B customers can complete the entire ordering process in one place, without having to coordinate with other parties. They are also able to:
- review your online product catalog, and get the latest updates on individual products (e.g. descriptions, pricing, etc.)
- check stock availability directly through your eCommerce platform, without having to speak with a sales representative
- place backorders if a product is out of stock and receive them when they become available
- make changes to their orders and receive updates on their order status
- review their order history and place re-orders
3. Transparent product pricing
B2B customers typically enjoy better pricing in the form of deals and rebates when purchasing online vs. purchasing offline. They can see pricing per individual product and product category in real time, as well as receive promotions and personalised discounts per product.
When B2B customers order online, they can also browse through different product variations and options, and receive instant quotes. Moreover, when it comes to placing an order, B2B customers who order online receive a detailed pricing breakdown outlining how much they’ll spend on shipping costs and VAT.
4. Better customer support
B2B eCommerce companies place a strong emphasis on customer experience and on supporting omni-channel customers. They encourage B2B customers to share their concerns and ask questions through a 24/7 support channel, and they offer a sales team that's dedicated to serving the needs of their online customers.
New research also indicates that when it comes to B2B eCommerce, customers value high-quality customer service over price, with 52% of them stating they would buy from smaller retailers if they offered a better level of customer service.
5. Access to historical data
B2B customers that transition to online ordering also provide valuable insights to B2B businesses about their purchasing behaviour. Companies are able to access their customers’ online order history, allowing them to see the types of products that appeal to them as well as how much they’re spending.
What if your customers need more convincing?
There are several ways you can persuade your B2B customers to place an order online. Offering an incentive is a good place to start — a discount on the first order, a coupon code, or a dedicated Account Manager to provide your customer with all relevant material and support them throughout the buying process to ensure a smooth transition.
Yes, changing the behaviour of your B2B customers who are hesitant to adopt new technologies can be a challenging task, but it’s well worth the effort. Over time, you’ll achieve higher average order values and more cost-effective sales.