Online-resistant B2B buyers: How to convert them to ecommerce

Victoria Seymour
January 13, 2019
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89% of B2B customers make their purchases through sellers that offer ecommerce options– yet how do you deal with that 11% that remains offline?

In today’s digitized world, the B2B ecommerce world is undergoing a rapid evolution and is starting to emulate the mindset and tactics that make B2C ecommerce companies 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 orders and spend hours flipping through a dense paper catalog.

According to a new Accenture Digital study, the biggest barrier to transitioning online is resistance to change.  Many B2B customers have a tendency of staying with a process they are familiar with, even when a new approach could be more beneficial. In fact, the study states, that 64% of B2B organizations claim that their long-term customers’ reluctance to try new technologies is putting the break on their shift to ordering online.

Breaking the habit: Taking your B2B buyers online

So how do you get your more tradition-driven B2B customers to switch to ordering online? First off, you need to reassure them that will they continue to be valued – even better, by using your B2B ordering platform, they will also benefit from the following:

#1. 24/7 Digital Self-Service

B2B customers that use offline channels to place orders need to place their orders within certain time slots and interact and coordinate with different parties at the same time. Offline ordering also requires from B2B customers to wait in line to place an order due to the service assistants/customers ratio that can increase their waiting time from several minutes to hours, for a service that they may need instantly.

A B2B online store never sleeps - even in the middle of the night or in the midst of a bank holiday, it acts as an ever-ready sales representative that enables customers in real time to:

* browse products and their availability
* review the latest pricing discounts and deals
* place orders instantly and track the ordering status

By performing their own research and purchases online, B2B customers can:

* minimize interaction as they no longer need to rely on back-and-forth emails or calls to place an order
* reduce any errors made by service assistants, and
* “get the job done” in just a couple of minutes, saving a significant amount of time and resources

#2. Streamline everything in one place

B2B customers have the autonomy of conducting their entire ordering activity in one single place without having to coordinate with other parties. At all times, they can:

* review the online catalog and get the latest updates on each individual product (descriptions, pricing, etc.)
* check stock availability directly through the platform without having to speak with a sales representative
* place backorders - even if a product is out of stock, customers can still place an order and receive these when products are available again
* be constantly updated on their ordering status and any changes made
* review order history and make re-purchases

#3. Transparent pricing on products

B2B customers can typically enjoy better prices (deals and rebates) when purchasing online versus purchasing offline. They can review in real-time prices per individual product and product category. What’s more, they can receive promotions and personalised discounts per product.

B2B customers can also browse through the different product variants and options, and get an instant quote on these. Moreover, when it comes to making an order, customers get a pricing breakdown which outlines how much they’ll spend on shipping costs and VAT.

#4. Better customer support

B2B ecommerce companies have placed a strong focus on customer experience and supporting omni-channel customers. B2B customers can share any concern or ask any question they may have through a 24/7 support channel and benefit from having a sales team that's dedicated to serving their online needs.

New research also indicates that when it comes to B2B ecommerce, buyers value more high-quality customer service over price, with 52% of them stating that they would buy from smaller retailers if they were to offer them a good level of customer service.

#5. Access to historical data

B2B buyers that decide to transition online can generate valuable insights about their purchasing behaviour. By accessing their online order history, they can further understand the types of products that appeal to them and the total expenditures incurred, ensuring at all times the optimisation of their ordering process.

What if your customers need more convincing?

You may be wondering how you can stimulate your B2B customers to place an order online. Offering them useful incentives is the way to go.  What could these incentives be? A discount on the first order, coupon codes, or a dedicated Account Manager to provide them with all relevant material and support them throughout the process to ensure a smooth transition.

Changing the behaviour of customers who are hesitant to adopting new technologies in the first place is a difficult task – yet what you keep in mind that over time and with continuous investment, you’ll achieve higher average order values and more cost-effective sales.

Going digital

Sign up for a free trial account on B2B Wave to get accustomed with the ecommerce universe and explore all the benefits our user-friendly wholesale ordering platform can offer to your B2B customers.

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