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In our quickly changing digital age, it's vital for businesses, especially B2B, to keep up with trends. This guide highlights the key trends shaping the B2B ecommerce landscape and will continue to do so throughout 2024.
More and more B2B businesses are going online. Why? Because that's where their customers are. 83% of B2B buyers prefer placing orders or paying for goods through digital channels. By selling online, businesses can reach more customers, work more efficiently, and always stay open.
70% of B2B businesses that have integrated their ERP systems with their ecommerce platforms report increased sales. In the past, distributors may have viewed ERP integration as a luxury. However, in today's digital-first environment, it's a critical infrastructure. With a growing number of online transactions, the need for integrated systems has escalated. Much like the early days when having a business website transitioned from optional to essential, today’s ecommerce sites must offer precise, up-to-date information on pricing, accounts, and order history. To ensure this accuracy, a direct line to your ERP is indispensable.
When data is scattered across multiple systems, consistency and accuracy suffer. Integrating ERP with your ecommerce ensures you're drawing from a single source of truth for all business operations. This streamlines processes, ensuring every department, from sales to accounting, is on the same page. It’s like having a master key for all your data points, ensuring the information is harmonized, reliable, and always available.
Imagine updating contract pricing for a customer in your ERP system, and it automatically reflects on your ecommerce website. This kind of connectivity offers customers their specific pricing in real-time, slashing confusion and bolstering confidence in your business. Real-time updates mean every interaction with your customer is informed, accurate, and personal — like your own pricing concierge.
Self-service is not just a convenience; it's a power tool for engagement. By connecting statements and invoices directly through ERP integration, customers gain the autonomy to manage their accounts without engaging with your accounting team for every query. This means fewer phone calls, reduced wait times, and a more efficient billing process — empowering your customers to serve themselves at their convenience.
50% of B2B inquiries originated from mobile devices. Professionals in sectors like electrical or plumbing are increasingly using mobile devices to order supplies. This means B2B companies must ensure their websites work well and fit on mobile devices.
A website that's hard to use on a phone can push customers away. Mobile-friendly sites make shopping easier, which can lead to more sales.
Businesses can use "responsive designs" that change based on the device used. This makes sure the website always looks its best. Testing on different devices and getting feedback can also help improve the mobile shopping experience.
Investing in robust security and trust-building measures is more than just a best practice; it's necessary to foster customer satisfaction. According to Forrester’s report, businesses that prioritize these measures see up to a 20% increase in customer satisfaction. The stakes are even higher in B2B ecommerce, where transactions involve sensitive customer information, pricing data, and critical store settings.
Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for admin accounts. By adding this extra layer of security, distributors can significantly mitigate the risk of critical data breaches. Admin accounts, if compromised, can lead to far-reaching consequences, including unauthorized access to customer information, manipulation of pricing, and alterations to store settings. 2FA ensures that only authorized personnel can access these high-level accounts, safeguarding your business's and customers' sensitive data. This secures the accounts and reinforces customer trust in your platform's reliability and safety.
Trust is important. Businesses can win customer trust by being open about how they use customer data and showing they meet safety standards.
Distributors understand that professionals crave the same tailored experiences they enjoy in personal shopping. Think of it like this: what if every shopping trip felt like the store knew exactly what you wanted? That's what personalization in ecommerce offers.
By streamlining product choices based on past buys, suggesting related items, and adjusting prices for loyal customers, businesses not only enhance the user experience but also foster repeat visits. This tailored approach isn’t just a passing trend; it's a vital shift in how companies build and nurture customer relationships, ensuring they stand out in a bustling market.
72% of B2B buyers are willing to pay more for personalized experiences. Customer data and analytics can make the B2B ecommerce experience more personal. Here's how:
By using information about what customers like and how they shop, businesses can create unique shopping experiences for each person. This makes customers happier and more likely to buy. It also helps businesses show the right ads, keep loyal customers, decide what to sell, and stand out from competitors. Plus, they can have popular items in stock and remind people about items they wanted to buy but didn't. Ultimately, personalizing the shopping experience is a win for both the customer and the business.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not just a backend tool but a driving force in front-end strategies, particularly in marketing. Generative AI is revolutionizing how B2B businesses craft and manage their marketing content, offering innovative methods to create compelling, tailor-made materials for diverse business audiences.
AI and machine learning can help B2B businesses increase sales by up to 15%. Imagine shopping where the website already knows what you might need next. AI can analyze past purchases and predict future needs. For example, if a distributor notices a customer frequently ordering a specific type of product every three months, AI can remind them when it's time to reorder or even suggest a bulk discount for larger orders.
Customers often have queries regarding product specifications, shipping, or compatibility. Chatbots powered by AI can instantly provide detailed product information. For instance, if a customer is unsure which type of safety helmet is needed for a particular construction job, the chatbot can ask questions and recommend the most suitable one.
Nobody likes items being out of stock. Predictive analytics, a subset of AI, can forecast which items are likely to be in demand based on historical data, seasonality, or even current market trends. For an electrical distributor, if there's an emerging trend in smart home devices, AI can suggest increasing stock of related components before the demand peak hits.
CRM systems keep track of customer details. By connecting these with an ecommerce platform, businesses can have all the information they need in one place. This helps in understanding customers better and proactively anticipating their needs to help them fulfill that need.
No one likes wasted time. By having systems that talk to each other, businesses can work faster, avoid mistakes, and serve customers better.
Companies that use platforms like EvolutionX, combined with CRM systems, can keep track of customer purchases, send them personalized offers, and even predict future buying trends.
94% of B2B buyers (US) say that the new omnichannel model is as effective as (or more effective than) the previous sales model, per Harvard Business Review. Customers don't just shop in one place. Professionals switch between online catalogs, in-store visits, and phone orders. By offering a seamless experience across all channels, businesses can serve customers wherever they are.
When integrating online and offline sales channels for B2B customers, a B2B distributor should prioritize a seamless customer experience across all platforms, ensuring consistency in pricing and customer support. This involves integrating customer data from all channels for a comprehensive view of customer behavior, implementing real-time inventory management, and investing in robust technology like CRM systems and ecommerce platforms.
Training for the sales team to effectively use the online platform is crucial, as is maintaining open communication with customers about the benefits of this integration.
Businesses that have both online stores and physical locations can offer services like "buy online, pick up in-store", which customers love for its convenience.
B2B online shopping is becoming more like B2C. People want the good stuff they're used to, like saving favorites, getting nudges about stuff they left in the cart, snagging deals with promo codes, and easy reordering. And yep, they expect all this plus the serious business features like special pricing and workflows. To maintain competitiveness, it's important for your business to stay vigilant about the latest trends and determine which ones to give precedence.
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