In the world of ecommerce, B2B is the new B2C. B2B companies are bringing their products online and experiencing great success. And that includes distributors.
It might be a break from the traditional way that distributors do business, but ecommerce is catapulting those brave enough to try it far ahead of their competition. (Don’t believe me? Check out this video interview with wholesale commercial door hardware distributor, Akron Hardware.)
In 2011, I predict that the number of distributors with ecommerce sites will grow dramatically. With that in mind, here’s 7 reasons you should get moving on your ecommerce site, if you haven’t already.
- Reach new customers. Everyone needs new customers, right? Expanding your business to the Web not only allows you to sell product directly online, but you also gain exposure to potential customers who might not even know you exist right now. Individual consumers and businesses alike are searching online for products that meet their needs. Having an ecommerce site allows them to buy from you without requiring a previously developed relationship, or at least get the ball rolling in the right direction.
- Increased brand awareness. I’m going out on a limb here, but phone books are going the way of the dinosaur, at least in my household. The information we used to look for in phone books is now found online. Launching an ecommerce site provides the perfect platform to increase your brand awareness via the World Wide Web. Public facing pages to your ecommerce site feed Google’s constant need for new information. Feed the Google beast and get found!
- Increased sales. You’re in business to sell your product, so maximize your sales potential by bringing your product online. Your ecommerce site will capture sales overnight, on the weekend, and when all of your customer service reps are helping other customers. An ecommerce site is the perfect compliment to your sales team. It’s always available, doesn’t take vacation, and is up at 2 a.m. when the sales team is fast asleep. Plus, remember those new customers you found through Google by posting exceptional content to the web? They can buy from you too.
- Reduce costs and increase efficiency. This one is a no-brainer. An ecommerce site plays order taker while your highly skilled employees to do what they do best–help the customers that need to talk to a human. When your ecommerce site is integrated with the rest of your ERP and back-end systems, the payout is double. You no longer have to manually transfer information from one system to the other–an operational nightmare and huge opportunity for error. Systems are automatically updated and order fulfillment takes place faster and more accurately than before.
- Improve customer satisfaction. Ecommerce will make your customers’ lives easier by making it possible to buy from you when it’s convenient for them rather than trying to get an order in while your sales department is open. Additionally, customers can log in to check the status of their order, when it shipped, and when it is estimated to arrive. Your ecommerce system can be set up to automatically send out order confirmation emails and notification when an order has shipped, proactively keeping customers informed. It’s a good thing.
- Stay ahead of the competition. I will be completely frank: More and more B2B companies are entering the ecommerce space. Distributors seem especially savvy to the idea of moving their traditional business model online or enhancing their traditional sales channels with ecommerce. They are quickly sizing up the efficiencies that integrated ecommerce offers them and reaping the rewards. Don’t get left behind by your competition.
- Opportunity to go mobile. It’s no secret that the world of ecommerce is rapidly morphing and mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is the next big technological push. With the wide-spread use of smart phone and tablet devices, mobile commerce is predicted to out pace ecommerce in the next few years. And since you can’t run before you walk, launching an ecommerce portal is your first step toward taking your business mobile.
I predict that 2011 is the year of the Distributor in ecommerce. What are you waiting for?
Did I miss a reason that Distributors should bring their business online in 2011? I welcome your input!
Ready to take your business to the next level? View the on-demand webinar, Ecommerce Best Practices for B2B and B2C.