In many cases, B2B companies have either been slow on the uptake or have actively avoided embracing the new world of ecommerce and maximizing the use of technology to deliver both better customer experiences, and better sales results. When you consider Forrester Research’s findings that the average conversion rate for B2B ecommerce sites is 7.3 percent, combined with Frost & Sullivan’s prediction that B2B e-commerce will be worth $12 trillion globally in 2020, up from $5.5 trillion in 2012, it’s easy to see why a business as usual mindset will no longer work. If you’re in the business of B2B ecommerce and want to stay competitive in a worldwide market, you’ll need to take action.
How is B2B Changing?
One of the reasons for the dramatic shift in the B2B sector is that the profile of the B2B buyer is changing. Buyers are by and large a tech savvy group, accustomed to using the web and mining their social connections to research products and services they’re interested in. Add Millennials to the mix, and you’ve got a B2B customer base that is always on, always connected, and accustomed to jumping from screen to screen, device to device, and platform to platform—all expecting experiences that are seamless and efficient. This raises the stakes for businesses across the spectrum. It may have been possible to exist without a mobile friendly website before, but in the new age of B2B sales, successful businesses will take the endless aisle approach, putting mobile and the connected customer experience above all else.
As the buyer dictates that the B2B market move in this direction, putting the customer first at every stage of the customer journey, and building systems and processes that facilitate that focus, will ultimately be the job of the B2B CMO and team and his CIO tech counterparts.
The Power of the Cloud
The cloud is playing a big role for businesses of all types and sizes today with an increasingly robust offering of solutions. Predictive analytics in the cloud, for example, can provide valuable insights that you’d never achieve via cold calling, and analytics management platforms can manage, integrate, and draw on multiple data sets at a time to create a more complete customer profile than ever before and connect your sales and marketing teams more meaningfully to your customers in a way that is a win-win for both.
Additionally, businesses looking at migrating operations to the cloud are looking at the ability to scale, increased agility, and computing power for applications on demand. Consider for example that most B2B products currently require delivery from the warehouse to the customer. In the future, companies will only survive if they are able to simultaneously consider the buyer’s location and product needs and check them against real-time inventory data across every location before the customer ever reaches checkout. The B2C marketplace is already implementing these steps—it’s high time that B2B takes note.
B2B e-commerce is in a rapidly evolving state, and it’s driven by a customer-first, customer-centric mindset and approach. The businesses that embrace their ability to personalize and customize their buyers’ experiences through the use of innovative technology, data and analytics management platforms, and creative, UX-focused design are setting themselves up to thrive.