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As you move your B2B wholesale business to the internet and the exciting world of eCommerce, one of the smartest things you can do is to say goodbye to your print product catalogs in favour of digital versions.
Technology is rapidly expanding to transform most areas of our lives, from everyday chores to professional tasks, but the digital revolution also presents some challenges as we learn to adapt our old ways of doing business. Here’s an example:
Online sales show that B2B eCommerce is now twice the size of B2C eCommerce, with sales expected to reach $1.13 trillion by 2020.
It’s only a matter of time before virtually all wholesalers will take the leap and make the switch to the online universe. In other words, the B2B industry is gearing up and evolving fast as it embraces the world of eCommerce, and these new and emerging trends are forcing B2B companies to change their well-grounded strategies. A perfect example of this is how B2B companies are now presenting and managing their product catalogs digitally.
The puzzling question: Do online product catalogs work?
If you recently decided to switch to B2B eCommerce, one of the main questions you may be grappling with is “Should I stop printing my product catalogs?”. Here are a few reasons you may be apprehensive to do away with this “old” part of your business:
1. You’re accustomed to prospecting the conventional way.
Moving your business online means you need to re-think your business strategy. Digital marketing, with its multi-faceted components (email marketing, social media, SEO, etc.) is becoming more and more integral to closing sales and generating revenue — even more so than training sales reps or maintaining personal contact with customers. Yet, when it comes to reaching new prospects, you may feel that mailing your print catalog to targeted businesses is already a proven B2B customer acquisition strategy that you don’t need to do away with. You can send your print catalog and reach the exact prospects you want to reach by industry, geographic location, company size, etc. And with a compelling introductory offer, you know from experience that these prospects will be willing to give you a try. So why use an online catalog instead?
2. You think your customers interact better with a physical catalog.
Yes, the physical presence of a catalog demands more attention and facilitates engagement more effectively than an easily-deleted email or electronic file. An inviting cover design can actually get prospects to start browsing.
Even more so, analog always wins in terms of searchability. Imagine your customer doesn’t know the exact product name or code they’re looking for, so how will they ever find it online or in a digital document? This search in vain may make your customers feel frustrated. A print catalog, on the other hand, features an index where your customers can quickly browse your entire product line, which may seem like a safer bet to you.
Two Reasons Why You Should Take Your Product Catalog Digital
Here is an interesting fact: today, sales and marketing teams across many B2B wholesale industries are spending tons of money on printed catalogs. But are they really worth it?
Research reveals that offline catalogs may not be quite as effective as you might think.
1. Today’s buyers are looking for a quicker, more efficient shopping experience.
Up until a few years ago, print product catalogs and phone orders may have worked for B2B buyers, but today’s tech-savvy buyers are different, and they crave a better and more efficient shopping experience. So yes, print is now pretty much “out of fashion”. In fact, the number of B2B buyers who spend 90% or more of their budgets online doubled from 9% in 2013 to 18% in 2014.
Here’s another reason why a digital catalog is key to your business success: according to B2B e-commerce, 94% of B2B buyers do research online before making a purchase, while 71% of them prefer this process over having a salesperson explain their options.
2. An online catalog is more cost-effective and accessible than an offline printed catalog.
Did you know that 69% of B2B companies say they expect to stop printing a catalog within the next five years? Online catalogs are quickly replacing the print versions. And there are a few good reasons for that.
First, an online catalog is much more cost-effective, not to mention environmentally-friendly. Between design, printing and shipping, creating a print catalog is quite pricey. Also, an online catalog is much more accessible to your customers. It’s very hard to go through a huge printed product catalog. Imagine how your retailers have to go back and forth between catalogs, cost lists and their own prices just to provide a customer with a quote.
With a digital product catalog, your customers can quickly and easily browse your entire product line whenever they want, read reviews, or zoom in a specific product. And here’s an added bonus: with an online product catalog, your customers can do all of this at any time or place on any device, including a tablet, desktop computer or smartphone.
Making the Efficient Choice
Yes, the time has come to re-think your product catalog strategy. And while you’ve successfully used your print catalogs in the past for marketing and sales purposes, with the B2B wholesale paradigm shifting, it’s a fact that technology has helped us digitise the entire B2B sales process. So, when it comes to presenting your products today, there is now a more efficient way to achieve those sales and marketing goals.
Apart from marked cost-savings and making your products more accessible to your customers, a digital product catalog can also be a powerful tool for your sales reps: a tool that allows them to instantly showcase your business anytime, anywhere, and from any device.
And if you’re concerned that your customers will not have enough time to go through your digital catalog, be sure to choose a B2B eCommerce platform that will allow them to export your catalog as a file (whether in Excel format or PDF), save it on their device of choice, and revisit it at any time they want.
Go digital — it's easy with B2B Wave.
With the powerful yet easy-to-use B2B Wave eCommerce platform, you can quickly and easily create your online product catalog, organise your products and inventory, and gear up your entire wholesale business for future growth!