The importance of e-commerce for B2B
15 février 2023
As of 2022, 65% of B2B companies conduct their business exclusively online. In addition, last year—for the first time ever—organisations sold more online than through personal sales.
It is therefore about time for your B2B company to move towards—and reap the benefits of—a digital story. Discover the difference e-commerce can make in a B2B context.
The digital wave in B2B
Let's look back a few decades, towhen representatives dressed up to the nines to visit prospects and customers, when orders were written down on paper receipts and when deals were closed with a handshake and signature. These are beautiful traditions that are now long gone.
Today, the B2B sales process looks different. Digitalisation completely changed the way we sell and do business. And the recent global health crisis accelerated this digitalisation.
Companies are therefore looking for solutions to automate and optimise their (sales) processes. Now more than ever, time is money.
The need for digital and physical contact
Does that mean that you have to set everything up digitally? Will one-to-one business disappear completely?
The answer is no. In B2B business, the personal and physical aspect remains crucial for building relationships, gaining customers' trust and generating business.
But to remain competitive and relevant in the future, you need to move towards an optimised digital ecosystem. And you can do that by focusing on e-commerce.
B2B e-commerce: so much more than a webshop
Many companies see e-commerce solely as a webshop or a technical website with a shopping cart icon. But B2B e-commerce is so much more than that. It is an approach that puts customers and employees at the heart of your business.
An additional communication channel
Of course, a professional B2B e-commerce platform allows you to offer your products or services online and receive orders. But you can also use it to communicate with your customers.
For instance, B2B e-commerce platforms can be linked to internal systems (CRM or ERP packages). This gives customers and relevant stakeholders one-click access to the right products, prices and stocks.
A useful sales tool
Another advantage of a B2B e-commerce platform is that it helps you generate more sales and even reduce costs.
For instance, you can streamline orders online and simplify your (internal) administration, reducing risks and error margins. In addition, this kind of automation saves you money and resources, leaving your (sales) staff with more time and energy to foster customer relations.
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Get started with B2B e-commerce
The benefits of B2B e-commerce speak for themselves. So much so that you might be thinking of starting it yourself?
Draw up a strategy and roadmap
If you want to start with B2B e-commerce, the first thing you need to do is establish a clear strategy and a feasible roadmap.
Ask yourself questions such as:
What are my e-commerce goals?
Which B2B e-commerce platform is most suitable for my business?
When do we want to go live?
In addition, involve your employees to shape and implement your strategy. Your e-commerce solution will come into contact with almost all departments of your company. The sooner and the more you involve the right people, the greater your chances of success.
Get the right internal mindset and structure
Once your roadmap is in place and you have found the most suitable e-commerce platform, you need to sell your plan to your employees.
Implementing e-commerce is an intensive exercise that involves a real digital transformation. And for this implementation to succeed, everyone must be on the same page.
Digital must be an extension of all your teams. Only then can e-commerce help you seize opportunities and offer your customers and prospects the service they expect.
Hop on the digital bandwagon
A high service level. Fast delivery of products and services. That's what B2B customers expect today. And that is what you can offer with e-commerce.
By betting on e-commerce, you can meet all the requirements and get ready for tomorrow's B2B customers. So the time to start e-commerce is now—even if we say so ourselves.
But starting now does not mean implementing next week. Digitising your sales process will take time and resources. Only then can you develop a strategic multichannel approach. One that puts your customers and prospects at the centre. One that seamlessly connects all online and offline touchpoints. One that will ensure your company's B2B e-commerce success in the future.
Trends in B2B e-commerce for 2023:
To conclude (and thank you for reading), we'd like to share a few B2B e-commerce trends that we think will become even more important in 2023.
Hyper-personalised content for B2B customers.
Continued growth of marketing automation in B2B.
Mobile-friendliness of B2B websites.
Big data and analytics to understand the needs and search behaviour of B2B customers.
Integration of Augmented (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) in online B2B environments.
Valérie De SousaMarketing & Communications Strategist
Valérie is a new face among iO's strategists and offers a fresh take on digital business opportunities in e-commerce, social media and all-round marketing, among others. At ease in B2B and B2C trends, Valérie regularly writes about all the exciting new things that await us, even far beyond the digital horizon. Has your organisation taken the plunge? Then Valérie is there to guide you along the journey.