The first notion that comes to mind at the mention of ecommerce is often that of an individual making a purchase online for their own personal use. While this B2C approach has been very dominant over the years, the time has come for B2B brands to embrace the very same approach, and those who already have can attest to their growth and success resulting from this move. However, there are still businesses that are waiting to make the switch and add an ecommerce platform to their business model.
Whether you’re already a member of the ecommerce universe with your own B2B efforts, or you have yet to determine the best path forward, take into consideration the following trends that will shape the industry even further. Some of them have been relevant for years, while others are about to make their way to the very top, so you can take your pick depending on their relevance for your own niche and build your own ecommerce empire.
Transparency in pricing models
Much like any B2C brand knows that an unexpected shipping fee is likely to lead to an abandoned cart, a business owner looking to make a purchase will not show understanding for sudden price changes during their order. For example, wholesale fashion brands need to provide the precise price ranges along with any available discounts for their collections for their potential buyers to make an informed decision. This single change in approach can lead to a business partner to stick to you as their supplier instead of rushing to a competitor who offers these simple, but priceless perks.
Remember, even though it’s officially the B2B realm, it still requires that B2C touch of customer service and customer bonding in order to protect your partnerships. Customizable websites that pull data from your marketing databases allow for personalized web presentations for each of your website visitors – a trend present in the B2C arena, too. By showing you know who’s on your website, by applying their discounts or loyalty points for example, you show you value their purchase with no hidden fees attached.
Customer support to qualify leads
Certain industries take time to adjust to the world of online shopping, and no matter how hard they try, there is still a need for human interaction in certain instances. Supplying your business with cutting-edge tech and equipment requires patience, and cannot be conducted like your ordinary Amazon shopping spree on a whim, simply because you’re in the mood for a new Kindle book. When there are thousands of dollars at stake, businesses like to be treated with care.
In order to ensure assistance and guidance throughout the entire customer journey, implementing stellar customer service strategies can be the best way to simplify the process. For example, if a business owner needs some clarifications in terms of oilfield equipment zone usage and its maintenance depending on that very same zone of use, they will likely want to talk to a living entity rather than rely on a brief description on your website. So, instead of making an uninformed purchase for such a sensitive industry, you can allow them access to an agent via email who will give them all the information they need to complete the purchase.
Mobile is a must
When you think B2B, you most likely still envision a more versed business veteran, whereas the modern image is more akin to a young, casually-dressed entrepreneur under the age of 35 – a Millennial. Chances are that you will be in business with younger generations more as time passes by, which means that you will need to accommodate their own shopping preferences, and they are not very different from their B2C ones. In essence, they like to be able to browse, shop, and communicate on the go.
With the rise of the millennial business ownership, in addition to the existing and powerful Baby Boomer business ranks, you need to enable B2B shopping via mobile devices. Since almost 60% of all online searches are conducted via mobile, it makes sense that not only Google, but B2B brands put a greater emphasis on their mobile presence.
Social selling is a matter of bonding
Although the vast majority of B2B purchases still happen based on word-of-mouth and personal recommendations, social networks represent a pool of opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Yes, that means that not only your catering company, but also your oilfield machinery supplier can use these channels to get more personal with their customers and build a stronger reputation online.
The key mistake most B2B owners still tend to make is sticking to ads on these channels. As worthy and profitable as they may be, they represent merely a fraction of what you can do, especially in terms of long-term loyalty. Use social channels to get more up-close and personal with your buyers, share valuable content, and to use it as a valid customer service portal when needed.
The B2B world is on the rise, and its ecommerce potential follows suit. Make sure to keep an eye on these and other emerging trends in this realm, and you will help your B2B brand stand out and protect its hard-earned reputation as well as relationships for a stronger, more affluent future.