Sometimes businesses fail to see the value of investing in E-Commerce, or those which do recognise its value fail to make the necessary strides to ensure sure they are best placed to reap the rewards. If your business has been supported by customers who call your sales reps or email their orders through – you’re most probably of the mind; why should E-Commerce concern my business and if I am successful without it, why do I need it? 68% of B2B buyers prefer doing business online, and by 2023, 80% of all buyers will be millennials. Are you positioning yourself so that you are aligned with B2B buyer preferences?
The short of it is, investing in e-commerce does concern your business, and as time goes on it will become an increasingly bigger concern – not out of choice, but out of necessity. Online B2B eCommerce is set to outgrow B2C eCommerce sales by 2027 and since 2014, the online B2B market in the UK has grown by 50% from £108Bn to £159Bn. Is your business part of this rapidly expanding marketplace and are you taking your piece of the pie?
This post will explore some of the benefits available to you as a business owner that are available from investing in a B2B webshop. There are two dimensions to how a B2B webshop will provide benefits; these stem from the customer and the other from the businesses perspective.
Customer & Prospect Benefits
Customers are warming up to the idea of being able to place their business through online outlets, rather than having to speak with people over the phone. B2B buyers are said to only want to speak with sales reps in a “problem solving & consultative manner”. Albeit daunting, the sales process now looks very different to how it did when your business likely first started – sales reps are no longer evangelists for product & brand awareness, but about in-depth product knowledge. Your customers can browse multiple vendors, look through catalogues and browse online shops. The modern B2B buyer will do much of their research before contacting a sales rep and they will convert from prospect to customer depending on which buying experience most adequately aligns with their preferences.
If customers/prospects want to be able to browse a wide range of products, create a cart, be able to take their time over orders – they will choose the supplier which has the resources to give them this experience.
The question is whether you are providing your current customers, as well as new prospects, both avenues to place their business?
Better buying experiences improve customer experience
Investing in E-Commerce includes not only your webshop but also the software underpinning the website’s functions. With webshop integration to your accounting software, you can push customer pricing, customer order history, order status, live inventory and stock quantities and much more.
The immediate benefit of this is that your customers are kept well informed of the status of their order, right from acknowledgement through to delivery. Your customers & prospects can also confidently place their business with you knowing that you have the stock available for them to deliver on their needs. In B2B, your customers are likely ordering components or products which make up their products – it will be of greater importance knowing that you have the stock available and they can be delivered on time. A B2B webshop will give your customers this vital information.
How often do your customers call asking for details of previous orders and the pricing paid? This wastes your sales reps time and gets in the way of them generating new business. With a B2B webshop, your customers can have their full statement of account, with all the details about previous orders online – negating the need for your sales reps to dive through customer records.
Improving online presence
As previously stated, the online market is growing and having a comprehensive webshop early on will allow you to take advantage of this growth and forge your position within the market. B2B webshop functionality will help to improve your standing online; prospects and current customers with the information they need – you can also use data from previous order history to cross-sell and upsell customers on related products.
A B2B webshop will make your offering more competitive and will provide your business with a strategic advantage.
Business Operations Benefits
4. Improving operational efficiencies
Integration of your B2B webshop with your Accounting & ERP software allows customer, product & stock information to flow bi-directionally between the two systems. The operational efficiencies manifest 2 fold:
Firstly, your team won’t be bogged down with manual data entry concerning orders from the webshop – the reduces risks associated with mistyping postcodes, pricing and more. Stock levels update on the website automatically. This means your team won’t have to go through each product to update stock manually – negating the possibility of overselling and, as a consequence of overselling, disappointing customers. Ultimately, by having information flowing between the webshop and your Accounting & ERP software automatically, your team can process more orders with the same amount of staff without being bogged down by the admin.
Secondly, the main types of data being transferred concerning orders, inventory, items, customer and shipping/tracking are flowing between the two systems – LIVE! This gives your customers an avenue to find non-revenue increasing information and reduces the time spent by your staff communicating information regarding past orders.
Having a single source of truth regarding your workloads
If you are selling via Omni-channels such as eBay, Amazon and online webshops, keeping track of all the orders can be tricky, if you let orders slip eBay and Amazon can penalise your ranking as a seller – as an individual webshop, missing orders or delivering late can mean customers are hesitant placing their business with you again.
By having omnichannel integration, your Accounting & ERP programme acts as a single source of truth regarding ongoing workloads. This means your team aren’t inconsistently looking at different places trying to find new orders – they will all arrive into your accounts package meaning your team only have to look there to know what they have to deliver on.
The immediate benefit of this is improved organisation. The secondary benefit of this is being able to deliver on orders, and having the confidence you’re not missing out on anything.
Expanding your turnover whilst keeping your costs down is something that pickles many businesses. A B2B webshop allows you to increase your orders exponentially, without having to increase the quantity of admin staff processing those orders.
All the heavy lifting regarding the transfer of data between Omni-channels and your accounting software is done for you. You can then spend time on the parts of order fulfilment and customer service which matter most.
Integration of these channels will allow your staff to save time and allocate their efforts to activities that expand the bottom line, not just support it.
At Apex IT, we have multiple ways in which you can invest in your webshop and improve the customer experience:
Your Web Developer can use the API endpoints to do many things like POST sales orders, GET stock information, Sell Price, give a customer a B2B experience where they can see the statement of account, quotes, orders, usual order items etc. when they log in:
In addition to the above, we have tried to make it easier to get started by creating some out of the box connectors that do some basic things like bring in sales orders, update order status, qty in stock etc. for Magento 2, Big Commerce. Working on: EKM and WooCommerce :
If you would like a turnkey B2B website with many features, quick implementation (4 weeks) then you should look at GOb2b :