B2B eCommerce For Industrial Suppliers: Now Is The Year For Record Online Sales
Many frustrated industrial suppliers have been sold the wrong eCommerce solution and have become disillusioned with B2B eCommerce adoption.Here’s what you can do.
How long will you talk about B2B eCommerce and digital transformation for your distribution business before you actually get serious about making it work? We mean REALLY making it work? There’s no need for us to list statistics (eventhough we have) about online B2B behemoths taking your market share. Yet we all know that companies like Amazon, Grainger, Zoro, and the like are growing consistently year over year, outpacing industry growth and steadily taking your customer’s purchases.
Eye-opening Numbers That Should Stop and Make you Think!
According to a recent B2B Buyer’s Survey from Digital Commerce 360, 40% of B2B buyers purchase at least 50% of their company’s purchases on marketplaces. YIKES! No wonder growth is so hard without a competitive B2B eCommerce solution. You are losing HALF of your customer’s business to online marketplaces and big box retailers. We need to stop the bleeding, but how?
Maybe you’ve tried eCommerce before only to be disappointed with the results (or lack thereof). You’re not alone. From the same survey we learned that in 2021, 33% of distributors said that e-commerce accounted for less than 10% of their total sales. That’s post-pandemic. Less than 10% is non-existent and therefore a non-priority when it comes to strategic investments. Ironically, it should be the single-most-important investment a distributor can make for the future of their business.
Common Mistakes Industrial Suppliers Make when Switching to B2B eCommerce
Two common mistakes are made when choosing a B2B eCommerce partner and/or platform. Firstly, many small-to-medium-sized industrial suppliers opt for a “budget solution” like an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) add-on, WordPress plugin, or B2C Shopify store. This is a huge mistake because these solutions lack the (often) complex B2B eCommerce features and integrations that make for a good shopping and purchasing experience.
As an example, your B2B online commerce website may have vast, specialist, and bespoke product catalogs on which you wish to offer tailored discounts and manage customer contracts in real time. All these are possible with full-fledged back-end applications for managing inventory and financial records that “budget solutions” fail to offer.
Secondly, small and large industrial suppliers alike are guilty of throwing money at enterprise solutions that have the ability to deliver a great B2B eCommerce experience, but then relegate what should be a full-blown strategic initiative to an IT or marketing “project”. Anyone who understands software implementation knows that unless your eCommerce solution is championed from the top down, it’s doomed for failure.
What’s the Right Approach to B2B eCommerce?
The top-down approach to building a B2B eCommerce website is to take a multi-year, incremental approach to digital transformation that includes specific milestones on the path to online maturity. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and 50% of sales online don’t happen overnight. Patience is required to achieve the desired results. Upon the launch of a documented, frictionless eCommerce experience, your sales team now has the playing field leveled and can regain ground lost to online competitors.
We recommend industrial suppliers, from OEMs to Wholesale and D2C Distributors, keep pace with digital leaders forging new partnerships with modern industrial selling enablers for –
- Creating an e-commerce platform focussing on sales interactions. Up-to-date digital selling tools for industrial suppliers, including personalized B2B customer experience, and the cloud.
- Building a unique ecosystem to address customer pain points. Tailor-made digital solutions for industrial suppliers to offer unique value-added services, thereby differentiating their brand proposition.
- Sourcing privileged insights into decision-making through advanced analytics for real-time inventory analysis, order & opportunity tracking, sales tracking, and forecasting.
You may align with this (example) SMART Goal:
“By March 31, 2023, we will have chosen our eCommerce partner and developed a multi-year, incremental digital transformation strategy with documented milestones and SMART goals.”
Action Item Checklist:
- We are confident that our current eCommerce platform/partner can help us achieve 50% online sales in the next five years.
- We will explore software applications and strategic partnerships that can help us achieve our goals for digital transformation.
- We are willing to invest in the future of our business.
- We have the right leadership in place to champion our eCommerce business.
- We understand the importance of digital transformation and have communicated our vision to our customers and staff.
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