It’s no surprise, B2B eCommerce is growing. And it’s growing fast! Last year, Forrester Research projected that B2B online sales would surpass $1.13 trillion by 2020. There are no more excuses to stay offline even for B2B merchants. Of course, there is a price to pay and a change to plan. But should you doubt the return on investment, read the following possible insights and outputs of an investment in B2B eCommerce.
Look around. Your competitors probably already have or at least are planning to have an eCommerce platform soon enough. Why? Continue reading.
Technology and ease to go online
Today, many eCommerce platforms have already adapted their technology to support most of the coveted functionalities a b2b merchant would want or need. In fact, Magento, the largest open source eCommerce platform available, now promotes and offers b2b solutions in order to help businesses commercialize their products online. At Novatize, we use Magento in the B2B industry to help our clients offer unique experiences to their customers. See the Altrum Recognition case study for example.
Cost effectiveness, efficiency and your employee’s well-being
Make no mistake, some people will tell you that B2B eCommerce allows you to make some cuts and lay people off. While that can be an actual goal in your organization, the main objective of implementing eCommerce into a B2B organization is not to let go people, but rather to change the way they work in order to increase efficiency, therefore profitability.
One of the many things we noticed at Novatize when implementing eCommerce solutions is that Suzie, the person responsible for receiving the calls and filling in the customers’ orders in the system, now answers an online chat and helps customers find what they’re looking for online. She also has the ability to open accounts twice as fast as before and no longer has to process orders. Instead of having a robotic job and completing order forms all day long, Suzie is now responsible for offering your customers the best service available. And guess what? She’ll be happy to do it.
Please your customers
Better customer service will surely please many of your clients. However, a few other things when implementing online solutions for your customers will make them even happier. Here are some of those, just to name a few:
- 24-hour access to make an order (obvious I know, but great for international/offshore customers);
- Order history and re-ordering possibility for customers who require similar articles frequently (ex. Office supplies, Food, Consumables and cleaning products);
- Shipment tracking;
- Online customer support;
- Loyalty programs (ex. Referral programs, Cashback, Volume discounts, etc.);
- Overall faster experience and autonomy;
- Your investment in innovation will increase your brand awareness and credibility.
The “Now factor”
With Alibaba making its entry in America last year, the distributor is now educated to buying online even for large quantities. People invest in technology; they trust technology. The 5 year ago excuse “My customers won’t want to make the switch” is dead. They are waiting for it and you have to give it to them or they just might go find it elsewhere.
Another great fact that allows businesses to secure their investment in B2B eCommerce is that tech firms are aware of the B2B online potential and are investing a lot to develop solutions for that matter. Technological solutions are stable and challenges are more and more known so we can overcome them. For example, a B2B merchant often might need to use multi-level user access for its customer accounts. This kind of functionality has been developed by Novatize and is also available on the market for certain types of eCommerce platforms; Magento, for instance.
Reaching new markets
As it is true with B2C eCommerce, an online eCommerce solution allows your organization to reach new markets. The cost of testing a new market online is so low! Depending on your industry, you can test a new market for an approximate 1.5K$ per month if your platform is already up and running. It’s now easier than ever to calculate the return on investment of this investment. Well, that’s a no-brainer: an (almost) risk-free investment to test a new market. Imagine a brick and mortar single store that can now sell its products internationally. You can apply that concept to a much larger scale organization.
Knowing where to expand
Your organization might be interested in acquiring assets and real estate throughout its expansion. But where do you go next? Well, the answer lies in your ability to reach new markets online. eCommerce is the easiest and one of the most precise way to know where to open your next point-of-sale. With the information available from your customers and visitors on your platform, you can easily spot the area where you generate the most sales, have a greater number of customers or even potential customers!
Faster and supported growth
The time-to-market to expand is now almost negligible online. With the previously stated elements (reaching new markets, knowing where to expand, cost-effectiveness and technological maturity), growth can be supported way more efficiently.
Following the “Now Factor”, governments and organizations are now funding eCommerce projects to help retailers and manufacturers make the switch to digital commercial activities. In the province of Quebec for example, here are some of the programs your organization might benefit from:
- Tax Credit for the Integration of IT in SMBs (http://www.investquebec.com/quebec/en/financial-products/smbs-and-large-corporations/tax-credits/tax-credit-for-the-integration-of-IT-in-SMBs.html)
- Incentive “Manufacturiers Innovants” (http://www.manufacturiersinnovants.com/#les-solutions-financieres)
- BDC – Offering financing to businesses for integrating technological solutions (https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/home.aspx)
- MESI – Offering many programs for innovation (https://www.economie.gouv.qc.ca/objectifs/informer/recherche-et-innovation/strategie-quebecoise-de-la-recherche-et-de-linnovation/)
- Emploi Quebec – Providing subventions when implementing a new technological solution that requires personnel training (http://www.emploiquebec.gouv.qc.ca/entreprises/investir-en-formation/programmes-de-developpement-de-la-main-doeuvre/mesure-de-formation-de-la-main-doeuvre/)
B2B eCommerce is thriving. Now is the time to not only get in the game, but to step it up with digital strategies to attract new customers and test new markets. At Novatize, we are devoted to the success of your eCommerce project and to maximizing your return on investment. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to chat more or learn more.