B2B online sales are projected to reach $1.13 trillion in 2020.  This is driven by B2B buyers who are moving to buy online.
With this change in B2B behavior, B2B sellers are looking to beef up their online presence. Some are fumbling along the way as they do so.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the common challenges B2B sellers face when looking to move more business online. We’ll also show you how you can overcome these challenges.
B2B Online Selling Opportunity
eCommerce is just as important, arguably even more, for B2B sellers as it is for B2C sellers. Online selling presents an undeniable opportunity for B2B sellers.
74% of B2B buyers today research at least one-half of work-related purchases online, and 30% complete at least half of their work-related purchases online.  Forrester expects that by 2017, that 30% will rise to 56% for those whole complete their purchases online. 
As buyers move to research and complete purchase online, B2B online sellers must be where their customers are.
B2B sellers are also moving online because it gives them an opportunity to cut costs.
B2B companies can slash the costs of serving and selling to customers by as much as 90% by introducing self-service eCommerce features, Forrester reports. 
Realizing this opportunity, more B2B sellers are making it possible for their customers to make purchases online.
A survey by Accenture found that 86% of B2B organizations say customers can make purchases via their website, only 15% offer no online purchasing options. 
Making the move online though has presented B2B sellers with new barriers.
(See what other B2B eCommerce Trends you need to know about.)
B2B Online Challenges
Simply implementing an online strategy isn’t easy. Selling B2B online has its own unique challenges that aren’t prevalent for B2C sellers. These challenge cause B2B sellers to struggle to create meaningful revenue from online sales.
These are some of the barriers that B2B online sellers are currently facing when trying to shift their customers online, as reported by Accenture:
Long-term Customer Resistance
64% of B2B organizations claim that their long-term customers’ resistance to change is a barrier to driving more online sales. 
While more people are looking to make purchases online, not all long-term customers are as open to the idea. B2B sellers are finding it hard to convince all their customers to switch to making purchases online.
A buyer could have various reasons for why they don’t want to buy online. It could be habit, concerns over security, online customer experience expectations not being met, or lack of knowledge about online services.
Another issue could be the internal sales team willingness to push customers to switch to online purchasing. It could be business culture within the organization preventing adoption of online purchasing.
Whatever the cause, here are some ways that B2B organizations are combating reluctance to purchase online: 
- Email marketing
- Direct mailers with information about eCommerce website
- Online sales support
- Sales representative credit for online and offline revenue
- Updated eCommerce website
You can use these same strategies to overcome this challenge.
Poor Website Experience
36% of B2B organization say their website isn’t easy to use and is a barrier to driving more online sales. 
There is no quicker way to lose an online sale than having a poorly designed site that makes purchasing too difficult.
Having an easy to use site is even harder for B2B sellers than it is for B2C sellers. B2B online sellers have unique requirements in terms of tiered pricing levels, customer-specific products, and customer account management.
Not all eCommerce platforms are built to handle these requirements, leaving B2B organization to suffer from a poor customer experience. With demanding customers with high expectations, this can quickly diminish the ability for a B2B seller to drive revenue from online sales.
The only way you’re going to overcome this barrier is dedicating the necessary time and budget investment in your site. You reap what you sow.
44% of organizations that receive more than half of their revenue from online sales dedicated at least 36% of their marketing budget to eCommerce. 
Here’s what some organizations are planning to invest and implement in the next two years: 
- 30% – Update eCommerce website
- 29% – Custom client-branded online stores
- 28% – Online-only loyalty programs
- 27% – Dedicated teams to call on/work with clients to promote and train the online experience
If you need help deciding what eCommerce platform is best for your business, check out this Multichannel Implementer’s Guide which explains what requirements you need, along with what platforms provide them best.
Unable to Handle Online Orders
20% of B2B organization say they don’t have technology implemented to take orders online and that their website isn’t built to handle large volumes of sales. 
It’s one challenge to get a sale. It’s a whole other challenge to complete the order by making sure your customer has your product in-hand.
Processing online orders takes certain technological capabilities. You have to the right software for check-out, payment processing, and fulfillment. If you’re new to online selling, getting all of these pieces working together can be overwhelming.
You’re now a multichannel seller dealing with both offline and online orders. When your sales grow, it’s easy for processes to become messy. This can result in lost orders, slow order delivery, or inaccurate order fulfillment.
Same as above, the only way you’re going to overcome this barrier is through investment in the right technology. First, you need the right order management software. Then, when growth justifies it, multichannel integration software.
Integration software helps you connect your order management system with your online and offline stores so you can process and fulfill all orders easily. It’ll also help to keep your inventory up to date. For example, this is what nChannel does.
Having the righttechnology in place gives B2B organizations the power to sell online profitably.
What to Do Next
With these tools and marketing tactics, online B2B sellers can overcome these challenges and more to help drive revenue from their online sales.
If you’re not sure what technology or systems you should be using to implement a multichannel selling strategy that includes online selling, check out this Multichannel Implementer’s Guide. It provides all the information you need to make the right decision for your business.
1 – 4: B2B eCommerce Sales Will Top $1.13 Trillion by 2020 by Internet Retailer
5 – 11: Channel Shift: Measuring B2B Efforts to Shift Customers Online by Accenture