More and more, we are seeing manufacturers investing their time and money in building B2B eCommerce stores that convert. While this swing has been taking place over the past decade, heavy lockdowns and a lack of face-to-face contact over the period of the pandemic accelerated this move tenfold.
But now that things are slowly getting back to normal, why is this change still taking place? We are still seeing B2B eCommerce taking off at an accelerated rate. Businesses are now wanting to buy products in the same environment that they would expect from a customer. This means that manufacturers have had to up their game in a big way.
If you haven’t made the move to create a B2B eCommerce store, then you have to ask yourself the question – is there something I’m missing? Find out why the biggest players in the industry have invested their time and money in B2B eCommerce, and why you should be doing the same thing!
Benefits Of B2B eCommerce For Manufacturers
Are you a manufacturer dabbling with the idea of heading into the world of B2B eCommerce? There are many benefits of making the move, both for you as the manufacturer and for the client. But it’s understandable if you’re not yet sold. Here’s a little convincing with 13 of the top reasons you should be heading into the world of B2B eCommerce.
1. B2B Buyers Have Ever-Changing Expectations
In the past, the B2B purchasing timeline was a long one because face-to-face sales were the norm. It took a meeting with a sales rep, quotes, negotiation, and a whole lot of paperwork before a deal was done. Not only is this a time-consuming process, but it means buyers can pull out anywhere throughout the process before the deal is done.
Many businesses still rely on this B2B sales technique, but it is one that will be left behind in the future. Buyers are wanting a seamless online experience, much like the one they have on B2C websites. They want to be able to make a purchase without having to speak to a sales rep, instead, they are opting for self-service options. This is particularly true of younger buyers who are slowly but surely taking over the job market.
This is the first reason that B2B eCommerce stores are important. To cater to the next generation of buyers who will rather look elsewhere than have to deal with your sales rep. With the ever-expanding B2B market, you want to be in the eyes of the buyer, and B2B eCommerce is the very best way to do that.
2. There Are Much Shorter Purchase Cycles
Younger B2B buyers favor simpler and shorter purchasing cycles, which means that the traditional sales cycle that goes via a sales rep just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Younger buyers want to browse your range of products, place an order, and receive delivery the very next day (or however soon is possible).
Other companies are managing to satisfy the younger B2B buyer’s needs with the use of B2B eCommerce, which allows for both a simple and short sales funnel. If you hop on this bandwagon, you can see increased sales, a larger buyer base, and satisfy your buyer’s needs.
Because the B2B eCommerce model is becoming more popular, you will also see an increase in competitors. So it is important that you stay ahead of the game at all times. Venturing into B2B eCommerce is the first step to getting ahead of your competitors.
3. It Offers Self-Service Style Shopping
In today’s buyer market, 60% of B2B buyers said they don’t want to have to deal with a sales rep in order to make a purchase. That’s the majority of the market. So if you don’t have a B2B eCommerce store, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Now you don’t have to do away with your sales reps completely if that is how your business is currently running. Instead, you can have a B2B eCommerce store that runs concurrently alongside your normal operations. And when your market finally decides they would like all interactions to take place through your eCommerce website, then you can move over fully to that business model.
In the meantime, you can provide for each buyer’s needs as sales reps will be able to provide a personalized experience for the older B2B buyers, while young B2B buyers can simply visit the eCommerce store to make a purchase. Thus providing a win-win situation.
4. B2B Offers An Immersive Experience
Younger B2B buyers now want a more immersive experience. They want an online experience that’s similar to the one they would have in person. Previously, buyers had to approach a sales rep who would show them printed pictures in a catalog. But often, these pictures are grainy and of poor quality, as it is expensive to print high-resolution photos for catalogs.
But with an online B2B eCommerce store, buyers have the opportunity to browse high-resolution photographs and get the opportunity to see the product from multiple different angles. While this improves the buyer experience, it also has a benefit for the manufacturer because providing high-quality photographs for your buyers in an online space doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise.
In fact, it is much more affordable than having to print out a catalog every time you add a product to your range.
5. B2B Allows Manufacturers To Expand Into New Territories
With a B2B eCommerce store, you are no longer restricted to a geographical location. Your customer base is not dictated by where you are located, because you can market and deliver anywhere in the world. This means that your buyer base expands exponentially.
Using the same allocated marketing budget that you are currently utilizing, you can market internationally. Because you will no longer have to pay for sales reps, expensive dinners, and hotel stays, you can focus your marketing efforts in the online space.
Once your website is set up and able to handle an international audience, with the ability to ship and take payments internationally, you are all set. For much less than you are paying for sales reps, you can market to a much wider audience and score new clients. Any client that comes to your website above and beyond your usual clients is a success.
6. B2B Creates New Markets
The fact that you are not restricted to a geographical location, means you can reach new markets. You can also create different products or variations of your original products to satisfy new customers.
The opportunity to get creative and create new products for a wider audience can also increase your company’s bottom line. If expanding to new markets and increasing profitability isn’t enough to encourage you to start a B2B eCommerce store, then there might be nothing that will.
7. Increases Both Sales And Profit
The most important part of any manufacturer’s business plan is optimizing for increased sales and profitability. This will happen because clients that are already loyal to your business will find it easier to make purchases on your website, and hopefully they will make more purchases on a more frequent basis.
The fact that your revenue income will increase is only one of the reasons you’ll become a more profitable business. When you start taking orders through your website, you can automate much of your backend process. This saves you paying for the human labor, and depending on the size of your business, could save you the salaries of 10s or 100s of people.
With fewer costs for your resources, your business automatically becomes more profitable, which is the goal of every successful business out there. Turning to B2B eCommerce to increase the profitability of your business is a win-win experience.
8. Improves The Efficiency Of The Sales Process
Having a B2B eCommerce store improves efficiency on the buyer’s end as they save time placing orders and making payments online. But it also makes backend processes more efficient for the manufacturer.
As the manufacturer, you can make use of CRM and ERP integration to create a seamless process. Your management, distributions, and accounting services can all be integrated into one place. Getting rid of the manual processes saves your business both time and money.
9. Offers a More Personalized Experience For Buyers
B2B eCommerce platforms have built-in personalization functions that allow you to tailor your buyer’s experience. Not only does it provide a better way for the buyer to shop, but you can cross-sell and up-sell them on products you already know they are interested in. This means you are creating more value for your customer and increasing your revenue all at once.
This kind of tailored experience would be completely in the hands of your sales rep if you didn’t have a B2B eCommerce store. And we all know that when sales reps try to sell extras or up-sell they can often come across as pushy. But simply placing a recommended item on the cart page is not pushy but it still makes the client aware of alternative options.
10. Lowers Overall Business Costs
The main difference companies notice when switching to the B2B eCommerce business model, is that their overhead costs decrease rather significantly. Much of the business processes become automated with integrated platforms, allowing for a smooth workflow, and fewer manual tasks to be done.
Things like invoicing, order processing, and stock management are all done by your eCommerce store. This speeds up the entire process by a significant amount of time and means that these tasks don’t need to be done by someone in your team.
11. Gives Buyers Quick Access To An Entire Range Of Products
On a B2B eCommerce store, buyers have a significantly heightened user experience as they have fast access to a complete range of products, which is something that rarely happens if they go into a physical store.
Physical stores are often out of stock of at least some of their products, and because catalogs aren’t reprinted on a monthly basis, they often don’t contain all the products on offer. But on a B2B eCommerce store, products can be updated daily to include every single one of the products on offer.
This gives the buyer a larger range of products to choose from and is more likely to satisfy the need for a specific product.
12. Allows For Better Analysis And Reporting
B2B eCommerce allows you to precisely track how buyers are interacting with your site and even their step-by-step movement throughout your website. This gives you great insight into what’s working and what isn’t.
With this information, you can change up the UX on your B2B eCommerce website to optimize it for what is working. Your eCommerce store will also precisely track outcomes and events, giving you more data to analyze at the end of the day. You’ll get a better idea of what products are performing best, so you can increase your conversions.
13. To Keep Up With Competitors Already Investing In B2B eCommerce
It’s no secret that the world of manufacturing is learning exactly how to cut out the middle man and sell directly to their buyers in an online B2B eCommerce setting. And at the end of the day, it’s increasing efficiency, decreasing overhead costs, and increasing revenue income.
Manufacturers are making a big swing towards B2B eCommerce, and you don’t want to get left behind. In terms of business performance, the sooner you make the switch the better as not all manufacturers have moved over to this business model (but they will have to in the future).
The faster you make the switch, the more likely you are to stay ahead of the market. If you manage to dominate the market early on, you will surely have the biggest market share, which is the position every company hopes to be in.
eCommerce Platforms For Manufacturers
Now that you have a better idea of why B2B eCommerce stores are important, you need to find out which platforms are best so that you can make your start on the right foot. These are our top recommendations for B2B eCommerce platforms:
- Shopify Plus
- Big Commerce
- Oracle SuiteCommerce
- WooCommerce B2B
- Magento Commerce for B2B
- Pulse Commerce
Final Thoughts On B2B eCommerce For Manufacturers
It’s becoming increasingly clear that B2B eCommerce is absolutely vital for manufacturers. While not investing in B2B eCommerce might be okay right now, a few years from now it might be the make or break of your company.
Digitalization is only accelerating in speed, which means that the manufacturers that don’t invest in B2B eCommerce now, will be paying for their mistakes later down the road. Are you going to let that company be yours?
If you have a B2B eCommerce site, you need to ensure it’s integrating seamlessly with your ERP platform, providing you with a cost-effective solution. If you’d like to try out our NetSuite ERP, book a demo now!