The rise of digital is well documented and is causing the business-to-business (B2B) sector to catch up with the business-to-consumer (B2C) space. By 2020, B2B eCommerce is forecast to be worth approximately US$1.1 trillion. As this growing sector is experiencing increasing competition, manufacturers are having to raise their game, largely due to technological advances and the permeation of millennials in the workplace that are active in the B2B buying process. To survive in this new, ever-changing age, here are three strategies that everyone should be using to help in the push to grow your multichannels.
In order to create a good user experience, it is essential that businesses create consistency throughout all channels that could be used throughout the buying process. Arguably, this is more so as B2B purchases tend to be larger in scale and as such, more touch points exist. This ranges from having a quality marketing strategy across a range of social media channels, a functioning, optimised and mobile-friendly website and personalisation for each customer. These things all take time and money to build – particularly creating a personalised experienced each time.
To create a successful omnichannel strategy, a strong backend system is required. Data is crucial and businesses must have the systems in place to cope with huge amounts of data over a number of metrics. Social media engagement, analytics determining online behaviour, and online inventory management systems to track purchase history are just some examples of systems needed to achieve this sufficiently. Ultimately, an effective omnichannel experience is difficult to achieve but can be a major competitive advantage if done.
The benefiTs of creating a simple re-ordering process for customers should not be underestimated. As with all businesses, the ultimate goal is to convert a lead into a sale, otherwise known as a conversion. Once a customer is acquired, it is significantly cheaper to keep them than it is to acquire a new customer. Thankfully, there are ways in which to improve a customer’s experience, leading to an increased probability of maintaining them whilst simultaneously improving their customer lifetime value.
One such method is to have a thorough understanding of all costs involved in the transaction – shipping, tax, payment processing and more. Over time, some of these costs can often be made cheaper, such as recurring shipping. This is beneficial for manufacturers or wholesalers as it can be more profitable to keep a reliable customer even if it means losing out on a few extra basis points on the margin. This can also be accompanied with personalised customer service or round-the-clock support.
Embrace online inventory management
It is astounding how many businesses are still using paper forms to track their stock. Whilst in some instances slightly more understandable for very small B2C businesses, for the majority of manufacturers and wholesalers, this is unforgivable. Manually taking note of your stock levels is inaccurate, inefficient and will be a major stumbling block when looking to grow as it simply is not scalable. Instead, make the move to online inventory management. This will automatically keep track of and display your current levels of stock with more advanced systems being increasingly affordable! Automatically processing orders or ordering more stock, creating dashboards and even offering to make orders with existing customers are all now relatively common features of online inventory management.
This is by no means a definitive list – one of the main challenges of competing in this online world is keeping up with the constant, rapid changes. Despite this, integrating these three strategies into a single, focused eCommerce strategy can act as a great launching pad for businesses.