Understanding B2B e-commerce best practices

Now more than ever, B2B customers prefer a digital experience when they want to engage or do business with manufacturers or distributors. In fact, last year, two-thirds of B2B customers made a business-related purchase online, and over one-third of them researched nearly all of their B2B purchases online first (regardless of how they finally made their purchase).

In the manufacturing and distribution industry, few organizations have fully embraced this new paradigm, but many companies are testing the waters. Those that have are reporting back impressive yet hard-fought financial gains. To help companies adapt to this change, Techromix has created a Best Practices Series, and will soon host a webinar on B2B e-commerce with Episerver. If you are curious about or considering a B2B e-commerce initiative, start here with Part 1 of the series: Business drivers for B2B e-commerce initiatives.

 

 

The next step involves evaluating your ability to execute these initiatives, covered in Part 2 of the series: Why customer experience (CX) is critical and why B2B organizations are struggling. Forrester Research and Watermark Consulting found that organizations that value customer experience have 77% better stock performance than organizations that lag in customer experience expectations. It is no surprise that poor digital capabilities and weak operational readiness threaten customer experience initiatives such as B2B e-commerce.

In this part of the series, you can look at the relationship between an organization’s ability to execute a B2B e-commerce initiative and their customer experience maturity. Use the model and evaluate your organization’s readiness to address customer experience improvements. This will assist you in preparing for a B2B e-commerce project that will reduce risk, improve your customer experience and optimize your financial results.

In addition, bear in mind that if you’re going to take on e-commerce, you’ll need to consider the entire commerce ecosystem. Most leaders miss the relationship between their business goals and the experiences, capabilities, technology, and organizational readiness needed to deliver. In Part 3, How to scope your B2B e-commerce project, you can learn how to map the various types of B2B e-commerce models to your specific business environment.

 

Despite the opportunities that online B2B brings, many digital commerce projects can encounter significant challenges and may not deliver results for a long time:

•            They go over budget, by 30%, 50%, 100% or more

•            They take 3-12 months longer than expected to implement

•            They impact business performance negatively in 40% of projects

What you don’t know can kill your business. Your organization is complex, requiring a myriad of departments, people, systems, processes, and technology to support sales across multiple channels and geographies. How can you make sure that you’ve considered everything you need to implement a successful B2B e-commerce strategy for your organization? That is, how can you avoid failure and give your customers the experience they expect?

Whether they’re looking for manufacturing supplies or sophisticated IT solutions, today’s buyers expect an easy experience. B2B businesses, in fact, know far more about their customers than B2C businesses do, which means there is no excuse not to deliver relevant, contextual experiences to those customers.