Switching to B2B eCommerce: Easier Than It Sounds
With almost 67% of wholesale businesses switching their operations from paper to pixel, you may also find yourself faced with this dilemma: should I or shouldn’t I get my own B2B portal? The answer to this question is certainly somewhat complicated, but are your concerns valid?
Spending on B2B eCommerce software is accelerating at twice the speed of B2C, with wholesale businesses leading the way in using online order management systems to reach out to new and existing customers. Technology has indeed had a facilitating effect in our everyday lives, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it could turn B2B wholesale into an easier task to tackle.
If you manage a B2B wholesale business, you probably know what we mean by the above analogy. Switching to B2B eCommerce can seem like a daunting and complicated endeavour — quite frankly, it is. And here’s why:
1. Doing business online is uncharted territory.
You may think that setting up your own B2B portal means you need to have the skills to do business online. And you’re correct! Switching to an online eCommerce platform does mean you’ll need to spend some time learning how to use it and developing a new business strategy.
At the same time, changing the way you run your business also means that you will be facing some new and unfamiliar challenges. For example, how can you be sure that your online B2B eCommerce platform is a safe and secure place for your customers to place their orders? Furthermore, what happens if your B2B portal goes down for a few minutes or even hours?
2. Your customers will need time to adapt to your B2B eCommerce portal.
You may be ready to enter the digital world, but are your customers ready to follow you down that road? It is entirely normal to fear that your customers may stave off online ordering. After all, placing an order by email or phone is easy and seems more personable than a cold and distant online platform.
And what about losing contact with your clients? An online system may jeopardise the sense of security your established offline ordering system gives your customers, and you might end up losing part of your customer base because of taking the digital leap.
Why go online then?
Although there are understandable reasons for being hesitant about moving your wholesale business into the digital age, there are some really big companies, like Alibaba for instance, who are not only participating in wholesale, but have also started investing in the online B2B industry. This means that the wholesale industry is already in the midst of shifting business paradigms.
1. B2B eCommerce helps you grow your business.
While 62% of wholesale business owners state that they had a hard time finding the right technology, the majority of B2B companies worldwide have already invested in their own online ordering management system. Why? Using online software to take orders significantly reduces their costs. At the same time, their profits almost double!
The moral of the story — switching to B2B eCommerce is the smartest, most profitable and cost-effective decision a modern day wholesaler can make.
2. Your buyers are much more tech-savvy than you think.
According to a report on B2B eCommerce trends, the average B2B buyer is much more digitally literate than you may think. In fact, 89% of B2B customers research products on the internet before they make a purchase decision.
In addition, a 2016 survey showed that many wholesalers decide to move forward with digital solutions mainly because their customers expect them to do so. And was it a smart decision? Well, when we asked Patrick Bedard, Manager at From the Field, if his decision to implement a B2B eCommerce solution paid off, he said: “Our customers keep raving about our B2B Portal!"
Even if none of your customers have yet asked you to take your business online, it is always important to remember that, more often than not, customers don't always speak up about what they want. Rather, they typically just imply it. Think about this: no one told Steve Jobs that the world needed a screen-only phone with multiple apps, yet he created the iPhone and it became one of the world's most successful products.
Make the Switch to B2B eCommerce — it's easy!
Yes, we get it: switching to B2B eCommerce is not a decision to be taken lightly by any wholesaler.
On the one hand, you may have some valid concerns in terms of finding the right tool for your business; you may also question your ability (and that of your customer) to operate under these new and “modern” conditions. But on the other hand, it turns out that most B2B businesses are turning toward digital because eCommerce software facilitates easier management of their daily workflow; cuts down on operational costs; and significantly boosts sales. Even more so, B2B customers seem to readily embrace using technology to research as well as purchase goods.
What is there to do then? Whether you’re sold or not on the digital eCommerce trend, the best way to actually make an informed decision is through sampling.
Do your research first, and sign up for a trial account of those B2B eCommerce solutions that best fit your business needs. If you’re unsure about key functionality, contact their support or sales team to get a clear understanding of the platform’s features and what it can offer you in terms of facilitating your everyday operations and cost-savings.
For example, if your customers are not that tech-savvy, look for eCommerce solutions that are known for their user-friendly interface, where all features and functions are clear and easy to grasp. If you’re a small business reluctant to pay for a B2B portal, look for solutions that are affordable with respect to the functions and services they offer.
Eventually, eCommerce will dominate the B2B wholesale world. And in spite of any valid reluctance you may currently have, making the switch to online selling can be far easier than you think.