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The State of B2B: How Ecommerce is Taking Over B2B Markets and Why You Should Join In

The age of conducting business online is well underway, and more and more B2B businesses are joining the world of ecommerce. This article explores the shopping preferences of B2B customers, outlines the common challenges faced by B2B companies and analyzes the benefits of ecommerce solutions tailored to meet the needs of B2B brands.

The age of conducting business online is well underway, and it doesn’t tolerate companies that are lagging behind. You’re either in or out. Therefore, we’re witnessing more and more B2B businesses joining the world of ecommerce, and their efforts are paying off. According to Forrester, US B2B eCommerce revenue will reach $1.8 trillion, and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023.

What is behind the urgent need for B2B to join the world of digital commerce?

What do B2B consumers prefer?

The way B2B customers are buying is changing primarily due to the shift in buyer demographics. The majority of people purchasing products is now comprised mainly of those who belong to the millennial generation. Being technology-savvy, they expect nothing less than a full-featured ecommerce experience and don’t want to be limited in their choice of device and payment options to complete their purchase.

  • 91% of B2B buyers perform an online search on mobile devices.
  • 93% prefer buying online rather than from a sales representative when they’ve decided to purchase.
  • 89% of procurement officers are making more purchases online today than last year.
  • 83% of B2B buyers are ready to spend more with suppliers that provide robust ecommerce experiences.

B2B buyers know what an excellent customer experience feels like as they encounter it in their daily life while doing their personal shopping with B2C brands. Therefore, they expect to get the same quality of customer experience with B2B websites as they do with B2C stores.

What are the challenges faced by B2B businesses?

While buyers want to shop online, many B2B companies are still reluctant to launch an ecommerce site. Among the top concerns and challenges are:

  • Product assortment and attributes

    B2B stores handle thousands of items with various attributes including dimensions and weight, so the ecommerce solution must be robust and agile enough to support this data.

  • Variable pricing models

    In B2B business, customers can negotiate a discount based on the volume of their order. Discounts can be applied to repeat orders, so the commerce platform they use should be able to support variable pricing options.

  • Requests for quotes

    Since pricing may depend on the size of the order, many B2B brands decide not to display prices on their websites. They need to provide their customers the option to ‘request a quote’ and align prices to their specific needs.

  • Multiple shipping addresses

    B2B customers may operate from multiple locations, so split shipping is often required for a single order. Companies need to offer customers the opportunity to edit their shipping details ensuring line level independence to move items into different shipping groups to separate locations.

  • Multi-vendor catalogs

    B2B brands depend on an extensive system of vendors to do their business and having a centralized catalog available to them is crucial.

  • Advanced promotions

    Much like B2C brands, business-to-business companies want their customers to feel valued and will often incentivize them using promotions. B2B businesses need to be able to create different types of coupons based on total cart value, offer discounts on specific products, and localize their promotions or target them to specific customers.

  • Contract management

    It’s common for B2B companies to be managing multiple contracts at the time of purchase and they need to switch between contracts to apply different pricing conditions easily.

  • Complex third-party integrations

    B2B businesses rely heavily on third-party solutions, and their CRM and ERP systems require seamless integration to ensure the frictionless operation of their business.

What are the benefits of ecommerce for B2B?

The existing challenges are tough, but they can be tackled by an experienced technology integrator that is well-positioned to empower businesses to enjoy the benefits of an ecommerce solution including:

  • Cost efficiency: Saves on the time and effort required to finalize a purchase, reduces the cost of selling and focuses resources on other growth opportunities.
  • Increased sales: Takes advantage of numerous upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
  • Scalability: Empowers a company to grow and scale.
  • Extended reach: Expands the business offering to new geographies or customer groups.
  • Improved brand awareness: Makes a brand more visible and discoverable through advanced SEO.
  • A holistic view of the consumer: Provides a 360-degree view of customer activity across sales, service, and commerce.
  • Enhanced customer experience: Empowers customers with simple, self-service purchasing and gives brands the chance to personalize B2B interactions in the same way as is done with B2C.
  • Increased customer loyalty: Builds customer loyalty faster and ensures repeat business.

 

Why Salesforce B2B Commerce?

Salesforce offers a unique commerce solution that is CRM-centric and designed for the complexity of customer-first B2B engagement. Salesforce B2B Commerce ensures that brands can reap all the many benefits of the platform including core capabilities, regular updates, and a 360-degree view of customers.

Customer-centric: Puts the customer at the core using real-time data in Salesforce to inform sales, service, marketing and commerce departments of every customer interaction.

Connected: Supports multiple commerce models with a single platform including multi-tier distribution, direct, wholesale, dealer, and subscription.

Fast: Gets companies to market quickly so they can increase revenue and reduce costs without delay.

Scalable & adaptable: Easily adapts to existing systems and processes and allows a company to quickly update their site, adjusting it to market conditions and customer needs.

Data-driven: Is dynamic and data-driven, enabling organizations to understand, predict, and shape buyer behavior.

Low IT-dependency: Lets companies configure (not code) because it’s built for business users and requires less IT effort.

Pay-as-you-grow: Has a modern, cloud architecture, featuring multi-tenant SaaS and a pay-as-you-grow model.

Having an experienced and reliable partner to help with the entire implementation and integration process is crucial to a company’s success. OSF possesses both the expertise and experience in helping B2C and B2B brands join the world of ecommerce with Salesforce’s Clouds and achieve a complete view of the customer to become fully customer-centric. As a longtime Salesforce Consulting partner, we’re well-positioned to help companies around the world become part of the Salesforce ecosystem.