Are you wondering whether it’s time your enterprise took a dabble or a deep dive into the brave new world of B2B eCommerce? If you answered in the affirmative, join the club.
Here in Australia and around the world, B2B online selling is going off like a rocket. Thanks to the Covid crisis, which forced tens of thousands of sales reps off the road for extended stretches during 2020 and 2021, businesses have become habituated to doing more of their dealings with suppliers digitally.
What began as a necessity quickly became a preference. More than three-quarters of B2B customers preferred to interact virtually with sales reps and place orders online rather than have face-to-face interactions, according to 2020 research from McKinsey.
At that time, just 20 per cent of survey respondents stated they were looking forward to the return of the rep.
‘Notably, 70 per cent of B2B decision makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,00, and 27 per cent would spend more than $500,000’, the report noted.
The big B2B opportunity
Little surprise then that high-tech market watchers are predicting the rise of B2B online selling will be one of the biggest business trends of the 2020s.
Forrester estimates B2B eCommerce sales will hit an extraordinary $3 trillion in the US alone by 2027. For enterprises operating in this space, it’s time to act – and fast, according to Gartner.
‘Sales leaders must prep their sales organisations to respond to the widespread shifts in B2B customer buying behaviour likely over the next five years,’ Gartner contributor Rama Ramaswani wrote in 2021.
‘Leading B2B sales organisations will rapidly implement digital selling models, moving away from the longstanding model of sales reps as the primary commercial channel.’
Seamless and secure selling
The next couple of years will likely see Australian B2B businesses playing catch-up with their B2C counterparts. The latter have long since recognised the necessity of delivering swift, seamless online service, a la Amazon, eBay et al.
Many B2B businesses lack the high-tech infrastructure necessary to market and sell their offerings at scale and – just as importantly in the relationship-driven B2B landscape – maintain and sustain their connections with customers.
So much, so that market watchers have posited that, by the end of 2024, two-thirds of B2B organisations currently doing digital commerce in some guise will abandon their existing platforms and processes.
And they’ll be looking to replace them with solutions that support the delivery of ‘consumer standard’ customer and product experiences.
Better billing at scale
When you’re dealing with business buyers online – and off! – timely, accurate and transparent billing processes engender confidence in your organisation’s capacity to become a long-term, trusted partner that can be counted on to deliver the goods.
Conversely, opaque, error-prone invoices and systems can damage credibility and prompt decision-makers to think twice about the wisdom of entrusting their custom to your business.
That’s why investing in cloud-based revenue management software that covers the revenue cycle from end to end and links seamlessly with the SAP or Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution that powers your business makes sense.
It’s foundation eCommerce technology that allows you to capture and consolidate sales data and integrate it with the systems that track and manage your customers. Choose a platform with sophisticated data analysis capabilities, and you’ll also be able to extract actionable insights that can inform product and pricing decisions.
If you’re serious about promoting brand awareness, strengthening relationships with business buyers and making doing business with your organisation digitally a swift, seamless and secure experience, it should be a key pillar of your B2B e-commerce stack.
Surviving and thriving in the B2B ecommerce era
The Covid crisis was the catalyst for a seismic shift in the way businesses engage with one another. In 2023, B2B enterprises that don’t provide their customers with the opportunity to transact with them digitally risk losing minds and market share to more far-sighted competitors that are willing to evolve their modus operandi to reflect changing times.
Against this backdrop, investing in systems and processes that enable your enterprise to offer an outstanding customer experience at every stage of the online purchasing process is likely to prove an extremely prudent move.