As B2B Ecommerce continues to grow many traditional businesses and vendors are now adopting B2B Ecommerce as a mainstream part of their current operations. This is mainly driven by the fact that B2B buyers are demanding a better experience in their professional lives which is coming from their experiences as consumers purchasing from omni-channel retailers. Based on a study last year 75% of B2B buyers surveyed stated that they would buy again from a supplier with an easy-to-use website.
Hence Manufacturers and distributors are rapidly adopting B2B eCommerce to keep up with the competition. However, as they race to provide a better customer experience, many suppliers have been remiss in fully understanding and measuring the business impact of B2B eCommerce.
This Article will help understand how Manufacturers and Distributors can stand to gain from adopting a B2B Ecommerce Channel in addition to their conventional process.
PAPER CATALOGS & ORDER FORMS
For brands that move to a fully digital selling process, the costs associated with the paper catalog and order form completely disappear. After the initial setup of a digital catalog during your implementation, subsequent modifications can be done electronically and are immediately available without the extra printing or delivery
COST TO SERVE CUSTOMERS
Providing your buyers with the ability to place orders online dramatically reduces errors. The ability to view images and product descriptions, confirm items in a shopping cart, and receive a detailed order confirmation helps to ensure the accuracy of the order. Orders placed online are automatically submitted to your back end systems eliminating manual data entry processes and providing customers with the assurance that you will receive and ship their order exactly as they expect. This in turn reduces the costs associated with resolving errors and re-shipping incomplete orders. Additionally, once customers can access your entire catalog on your eCommerce portal, you’ll find that your customer service team no longer needs to spend as much time answering product questions and can be redeployed towards more revenue generating activities.
COST OF BACKORDERS
Sophisticated B2B eCommerce platforms allow you to display inventory data––either exact levels or simply whether products are in or out-of-stock. Ideally, these systems will also include a restock date and the customers can adjust
the shipping dates, accordingly. This will allow you to take the order and keep your customer happy without incurring a backorder. At the very least, providing inventory information helps to manage their expectations, and at best, it allows your customers to make more strategic choices, choosing alternative products when necessary.
COST OF ORDER RE-ENTRY
A huge benefit of orders placed via your B2B eCommerce portal is that once an order is submitted, it’s immediately synced to your back oce systems. While some of the costs associated with manual processes do not totally vanish with the adoption of B2B eCommerce (for example, some brands rely on a hybrid strategy of paper and digital catalogs and may still do limited printing), the costs of order re-entry is often totally eliminated after implementing B2B eCommerce. Depending on your business processes, you may opt to have your sales reps or back end team do a quick approval of incoming orders from your portal, and then re-distribute the team for proactive account management and other strategic tasks. It also goes without saying that the costs for seasonal hires will no longer be
incurred under a B2B eCommerce model.
HIGHER AVERAGE ORDER VALUE
Brands using B2B eCommerce typically see a higher average order value as compared to other channels. This is due to several factors. First, the upsell opportunity is often greater when your buyers have full access to your product line. They can easily research and discover products they might not have previously been shown or ordered otherwise. This self-service approach ensures that the buyer browses and discovers items as they please.
Second, brands who provide a superior customer experience in the form of fast,convenient online ordering have found that their customers prefer to order from them over competitors, and in turn, order from them in new product categories.
HIGHER ORDER FREQUENCY
Buyers who can place orders online often do so at a higher frequency when compared to oine channels because they no longer need to wait to place an order during a scheduled sales rep visit, trade show, or even during business hours. Instead, whenever inventory is running low, they can easily place an order online at their convenience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, many manufacturers and distributors take advantage of the
marketing capabilities engendered by a B2B eCommerce portal by running promotions and notifying customers of new product launches. Online marketing initiatives like email campaigns link directly to a brand’s online portal and
customers can immediately log in and place an order.
MORE VALUABLE CUSTOMERS
Traditionally, manufacturing and distribution has been dominated by a single channel––in-person sales. The introduction of B2B eCommerce has transformed wholesale into an omni-channel selling environment. According to Forrester, 60% of B2B companies report that their B2B customers order more overall when those customers interact with multiple channels.2 In order to increase the value of your single-channel oine-only customers, therefore, it is critical to give them access to an online ordering platform. Many manufacturers and distributors also find that a more desirable online ordering experience is a big factor in improving customer loyalty, which in turn increases customer lifetime value (LTV).
MORE STRATEGIC REPS
Many companies find that once B2B eCommerce is in place, their reps are able to transition from serving as transactional order takers to a trusted advisor that provides insights on assortment planning, inventory depth, reordering techniques, and lean supply chain strategies. These reps are able to add more value to customer conversations, talking with buyers about how to increase margin, phase purchases, and understand the competitive landscape. Reps that serve in a more advisory capacity also have a stronger ability to upsell and cross-sell your customers, as they are able to make more informed product recommendations. They also typically have built stronger rapport and trust with your customer base. A more strategic rep force is a significant competitive advantage, leading to greater customer loyalty and again, leading to higher customer
It is dicult to dispute that having the ability to place orders through an online ordering portal is a better customer experience for the B2B buyer. The benefits to the seller, however, may be even more impactful, including both significant cost savings and revenue gains. Manufacturers and distributors evaluating B2B eCommerce must be cognizant of these expected cost savings and revenue gains not only to assess this technology’s potential impact on their business, but also to know in advance what to track and measure once they are up and running. This, in turn, will allow brands to better understand and quantify the ROI of B2B eCommerce.
Source – Handshake.com
About Handshake – Handshake provides the B2B Commerce platform for manufacturers and distributors that powers standout ordering experiences both in-person and online. Companies using Handshake transform their sales eectiveness and drive operational eciency, delighting customers and growing lasting relationships.
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