How E-commerce Will Help Your B2B Company: Interview
New studies show that B2B e-commerce is on the rise. We asked APSIS E-commerce Expert Emil Eriksson about its impact on the B2B industry and preparing for the future.
Should B2B companies look into e-commerce, or is it just for B2C businesses?
E-commerce is definitely not just for B2C businesses. B2B e-commerce sales are almost twice the amount of B2C sales right now! Customers want to speed up and simplify their buying habits, so it seems like the natural next step for B2B companies to go online to serve them.
Also, B2B customers aren’t completely isolated from B2C customers. People buying clothes online are often the same people that buy online solutions in their day-to-day jobs. Which means that a good first step for B2B companies is to create an e-commerce process that echoes the B2C customer journey.
What about companies who don’t deal with products at all, like non-profit organisations, fundraisers etc.?
I’d say that the same applies to NGOs. It’s all about conversions: turning a visitor into a paying customer, or in this case, a donor. Just get online - and do it soon, because going online and reaching a larger donor base will greatly increase your donations.
Read our article about email marketing and fundraising here.
Don’t e-commerce platforms cost a lot of money? Why should I buy into such a solution?
You must have an e-commerce solution to be successful in today’s digital age. There’s no question about it any more. (According to Forrester, 56% of B2B buyers already complete half of their purchases online.)
And it’s true that creating an e-commerce solution doesn’t come for free. But doesn’t it cost more to lose your customers to your competition? Turning to e-commerce will probably increase your total sales by providing your customers with a new sales channel and a seamless shopping experience. Many B2B businesses move online for this very reason: to profitably support their clients.
How do I know my customers will take the leap and commit to my solution via web?
It’s true that selling a physical product like a raincoat is different than selling a digital product. (Although providing your customers with a trial of your software will probably do as much as free returns on a coat would!) And of course, no one knows if customers will end up flocking to your online store. If you want to succeed in e-commerce, you will also need to invest in SEO, lead nurturing, navigation, on-site search and a Quick Order functionality. The key is to offer your customers (i.e. B2B buyers) a purchasing experience that is simpler than doing it offline.
Let’s say we decide to invest in an e-commerce solution. What do I need to think about before choosing one?
The first step is to analyse your business needs carefully. Some e-commerce solutions are very easy to get up and running, and have very attractive price tags, but they won’t be the best choice for a rapidly growing business with a large product database.
Always think about technical matters, like how you will host your site, what integration requirements you have, or if you want to go open source or not. It’s also important to decide which markets you want to be active in, which payment methods you want to have and what the size of your product database is. And finally, you have to choose between building a solution yourself or working with a full-service e-commerce provider.
"I am convinced that every company, B2C and B2B, should have an online presence."
It seems like lots of factors have to be taken into consideration. But ultimately, is B2B e-commerce really worth it?
I am convinced that every company, B2C and B2B, should have an online presence. And if you sell anything at all, products, services, or even just memberships, that online presence should be through an e-commerce site.
If your goal is to create a simplified purchasing experience for your customers, then you’ve already made a great start. But don’t forget that setting up an e-commerce site is a complex process. If you want to play it safe, start small with an abandoned shopping cart email solution to improve your customer communication. If you've established that, you can build up a more sophisticated strategy to take your e-commerce to new heights.
Want to learn more about e-commerce? Drop by for a chat at the e-commerce 2016 Easyfair in Stockholm on May 11-12. We'll be there - and we'd love to see you too!