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Selling online presents a really exciting opportunity to significantly increase sales and reduce order processing time.

It’s no secret that some organisations are still behind in terms of B2B e-commerce. I often come across B2B websites that are not mobile friendly, riddled with errors, difficult to navigate, and more importantly, don’t sell online. But why does this matter? Surely a website selling industrial cleaning supplies doesn’t need a ‘fancy’ e-commerce website?

There is a misconception that e-commerce is only for B2C retailers, and that it’s simply there to offer a glamorous shopping experience. This is wrong. It’s extremely important to offer customers a convenient and pleasurable buying experience which saves them both time and money if you want to stay ahead of your competitors, no matter the product type. Further to this, the proven conversion techniques that are applied to retail websites can also be applied to a trade websites with the same effect.

So… customers are happier, and buying more. However, regardless of this there’s still a lot of uncertainty towards B2B e-commerce, with a lot of B2B organisations still unsure on whether to explore it or improve on their existing solution.

Here are some common barriers which B2B organisations face:

“Our customers prefer to place orders over the phone – this also allows us to up-sell”

Customers will place an order with you over the phone only if there is no other option.

It is proven that e-commerce up-sell techniques are far more effective than telephone upsell. Why? It allows the customer to view and understand the product/offer themselves, and make a natural decision to purchase rather than feel like they are being sold to.

In addition to this, many of our clients have customers who place orders in the early hours of the morning due to the purchaser working open, close and night shifts. An e-commerce website (including the upsell) is available 24/7 for customers working these shifts.

“We don’t want to sell online – it will ruin the relationships we have with our customers”

Selling online is more likely to significantly improve customer relationships. Providing easy access to their previous orders, invoices, special prices, order status, shipping details, products, offers, different languages, currencies, and account details all in one place significantly improves the service you deliver to customers.

Customers will not move away from a website that is simple, effective and meets their requirements.

Selling online doesn’t mean you have to stop contacting your customers over the phone. Calling a customer to ask how they are, rather than ask for their order is a far sweeter call.

“Our customers are B2B so they don’t shop on mobile”

It is a common belief that B2B customers do not use mobiles to search for B2B products, but this is simply not true, and Decision Makers are increasingly using their mobile.

Millward Brown Digital partnered with Google to survey 3,000 B2B Decision Makers about their purchase and research habits. The results showed:

42 percent of researchers use a mobile device during their B2B purchasing process.
Search activity for those using a smartphone has intensified. Google is reporting a 3X growth in mobile queries.
B2B researchers are not just using mobile devices when they are out of the office; 49 percent of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for research do so while at work.

Further to this, Google recently did a study titled ‘What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today’. The results showed:

74 percent say they are likely to return to a company’s site in the future, if it is a mobile-friendly site.
48 percent feel frustrated and annoyed if a company doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site.
52 percent are less likely to engage with a company that has no mobile website.

Consumer emotion is the same regardless of whether a website is for B2B or B2C trade.

“Our products are not suitable for selling online”

Some products are not allowed to be sold online by law. However, unless your products are heavily customised then you are probably able to sell your products online.

Each B2B e-commerce website has different set of requirements, and ‘selling online’ is different for each business. For example, it’s completely inappropriate to sell dental equipment supplies in the same way that you’d sell designer handbags, which is why a dental equipment supplies website would be built in a completely different way.

The way that your products are sold is unique to your business and industry, but just because your business isn’t selling designer handbags, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of e-commerce via a solution which is unique to your business.

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