Most B2B companies are tackling eCommerce head-on. Realizing the opportunity that online selling represents, manufacturers and distributors are investing in new technology to transform their online presences into personalized buying experiences.
Forrester predicts the B2B eCommerce industry to hit $1.2 trillion in the U.S. by 2021. Despite this, some B2B sellers are reluctant to sell online. It’s understandable that digitally transforming your business is overwhelming, but sellers can’t ignore it any longer. An online presence isn’t a nice-to-have, but rather a requirement for manufacturers and distributors to sell to the next generation of B2B buyers.
See the top reasons why B2B sellers should stop dragging their feet and start selling online.
B2B Buyers Want to Research and Shop Online
Sell where your buyers are. For B2B buyers, shopping online is the new normal and even their preference.
According to Red Stage State of B2B eCommerce Report, 96% of B2B buyers prefer to do business with manufacturers and distributors online!
This shouldn’t be surprising though. Today, there are more Millennial buyers than ever before. This generation is used to shopping online for all their needs and they don’t expect anything different when it comes to work-related purchases. They want the convenience, speed, accuracy, and personalization that eCommerce websites and mobile apps offer.
Even before they make a purchase, buyers are turning to digital channels to research and find the right products. 68% of B2B buyers said that a web search was one of the first three resources they use to learn about a solution.
If you aren’t selling online, you’re making it difficult for potential and current users to research your products and make purchases.
New Revenue Streams – Selling Direct-to-consumer
As eCommerce grows, more B2B companies are reporting online sales becoming a larger percentage of their revenue streams. This is because companies no longer treat their eCommerce or online sales portals as an afterthought to their overall strategy. Over a decade ago online sites were treated as simple portals for existing customers to place reorders or browse a catalog. It was enough to just have an online presence.
However, today’s eCommerce sites are a serious strategy to acquire new customer and contribute to the bottom line. While an online site can serve existing and new B2B customers, it can also be a strategic way to reach a new audience and increase sales. Digital channels can also allow manufacturers and distributors to sell direct-to-consumer, or DTC.
Direct-to-consumer brands are on the rise in retail and for good reason. Digital channels make it easier than ever to connect with end users. By removing other resellers or channel partners from the equation, DTC brands gain greater control over their brand and user interactions. Manufacturers and distributors can also target consumers who prefer to buy directly from them. With eCommerce, it’s easy to have a separate site or page that allows consumers to place online orders.
Offer a Digital Product Catalog
The use of print catalogs is getting smaller as B2B companies change the way they share product data. Product information and its distribution is a more unique challenge for manufacturers and distributors compared to B2C sellers. B2B product catalogs often contain thousands, even tens of thousands of products. Pricing and inventory change frequently. There’s customer-specific pricing, tiered pricing, and more.
To solve many of these issues, manufacturers and distributors are turning to digital or interactive master product catalogs. They’re easier to main and distribute to whom you need to. With high-quality data, sellers can easily manipulate it for different sales channels, customers, or channel partners. It allows B2B sellers to continue to widen their product assortment, without worrying about the management of it in messy spreadsheets. No matter how you look at it, digital catalogs are a quicker and more scalable then print catalogs.
Sell Online or Risk Getting Left Behind
Forrester found 73% of B2B sellers sell through an eCommerce or online sales portal today. At this point, if you aren’t selling online, you’re risking getting left behind by your competition. It’s clear that B2B buyers prefer to shop online. If they start the majority of their research online, they’ll find your competitors with your brand no where to be found.
The longer you wait to sell online, the harder it’ll be catch up to your competitors too. Due to innovation and advancement in eCommerce technology, online B2B sellers are transforming their online experiences to mirror B2C with a focus on self-service and personalization. Some of the companies have been tweaking their online offering for the past several years. Their learning from their first mistakes and making improvements every day.
According to B2BecNews surveys in 2018 of 276 manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, 60.7% of manufacturers and 38.1% of wholesalers and distributors do not yet have an ecommerce site. But the vast majority of those without an ecommerce site, or 75%, said they planned to launch one within two years.
It’s clear that the opportunity for manufacturers and distributors lies in selling online.
To get started, download our free guide on how to navigate B2B eCommerce.
Check out some of other helpful B2B eCommerce guides to get you started.
- How to Choose the Best B2B eCommerce Platform for Your Business
- Get Your B2B Sales Team On Board for Your eCommerce Migration
- Delivering Omnichannel Customer Experiences in B2B eCommerce
- Learning from B2C: Making B2B eCommerce More Accessible for Self-Service
- Increase Lead Generation with a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Has your B2B company already been selling online? Let us know some of your biggest challenges in the comments below!