1. The belief that you're not selling B2B.The number one reason many brands say they aren’t selling B2B is because they don’t realize they are already doing it.
Selling B2B is a variety of things, including:
- Distribution relationships with large or chain retailers.
- Selling to organizations (schools, businesses, nonprofits).
- Supplier selling to resellers.
You do not need a separate e-commerce site in order to sell B2B. Instead, you can build site engagement and SEO on a single URL and use customer groups to allow for personalized browsing experiences for your B2B segment.
2. The belief that B2B customers don’t want to order online.As the new generation comes to managerial and purchasing power age, their preferred method of purchasing (e-commerce) will surpass older processes.
In general, B2B customers want to see their B2C conveniences transfer over.
- 41% say that self-service functionality is one of the top three ways B2B companies could make it easier for them to shop online.
- 73% of B2B execs say that customer expectations for personalized experiences are significantly higher today compared to just a few years ago.
- 44% of millennials are making purchasing decisions.
- 33% say they are key influencers or recommenders in the purchasing process.
- Only 2% reported not being involved at all in purchasing decisions.
- Millennial buyers are far more independent than Generation X or baby boomer buyers during their path to purchase: They conduct extensive research on their own before making any purchasing decisions.
- While Generation X and baby boomer buyers rely on salespeople for guidance, millennial buyers are more likely to rely on the opinions of peers or outside experts than to trust a salesperson: They actively avoid engaging with sales early on; nearly 60% say they don’t engage with a salesperson until they’re in the middle of a purchasing decision.
If you want your brand to show up in those buying committees, you must have an online presence.
One last data point to drive this home:
An overwhelming majority (89%) of B2B researchers use the internet in their research process and they conduct 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site.
3. The belief that e-commerce requires price transparency.With low margins and fierce competitors looking to underbid a B2B business, many brands don’t want their prices available to the public.
This safeguarding of the supply chain is understandable — and it’s why many e-commerce solutions offer price availability only after a customer logs in.
This means only your customers see the prices — and that prices can be presented exactly as negotiated for individual customers.
You can also use your site to enable product visibility, but require customers who are not logged in to their customer groups (likely a prospect) to call in to get prices.
4. The belief that online ordering is cold.One of the best ways to make sure a customer doesn’t go to a competitor is by building a long-term, personal relationship with them.
This is why so many B2B businesses are family-owned and operated. There’s a personal touch to being one of the family: phone calls, dinners, visits and trips.
An online store can seem cold in comparison, but it doesn’t have to be.
And, especially now that Millennials are at the forefront of many B2B buying decisions, buyers are looking for a streamlined digital purchasing experience.
In a Demand Gen Report, 55% said, when all other factors are equal (e.g., price, quality), “a digital buying experience is extremely important to selecting a vendor.”
With 24/7 chat technology that can turn an online chat on your store into a text on your phone, the new generation can communicate efficiently and effectively in their preferred communication channel: text, Facebook messenger or a variety of other options.
In fact, this type of customer service is not only easy to set up but is also highly desired by customers across the board.
A study by McKinsey & Company found that slow site response times are a B2B buyer’s biggest complaint with online ordering.
Increasing your speed to respond to a customer is today’s version of quality, face-to-face interactions. Ignore it, and you’ll lose business.
5. The belief that an online store negates custom ordering.With B2B customers and wholesalers, the possibility for custom orders is much higher than for a B2C site.
And for many B2B businesses, they want to provide for the custom order (which helps with that personal relationship).
But custom orders aren’t often an e-commerce norm — or so many people think.
Thanks to custom quoting tools, unique variants and segmented customer groups, B2B businesses can allow customers to send in a PDF quote 24/7, then evaluate the quote and get back within regular business hours if the unique order can be filled.
Then, your B2B business can place that customer in their own unique customer group so the next time they order, the customer won’t have to go through the quote engine.
Instead, they can just click and checkout the item that is made especially for them.