I guess today’s election has me thinking about what it means to vote and how, as citizens of the United States, we have the right to choose our political leaders.
As I stood in line at the polls this morning, it occurred to me that ecommerce gives consumers–whether making business or personal purchases–the right to choose where to buy the items they need. In short, ecommerce allows the business and personal consumer to vote for the organizations that they want to do business with their cold, hard cash.
Historically, in the world of business-to-business (B2B) buying, B2B organizations have thought of their customers as a “captive” audience, for lack of a better way to put it as many B2B buying transactions were limited to local resources due to shipping costs or logistical considerations. This is no longer the case. The Internet and ecommerce have changed how business consumers buy and it’s time for B2B organizations to recognize it.
For example, five years ago the corrugated carton industry was limited by geography because of the associated shipping costs. As shipments of corrugated traveled farther, the costs of shipping increased, driving up the price of the purchase. In order to keep costs associated with corrugated purchases down, organizations were limited to the companies in their area to replenish their supplies. Of course, corrugated companies knew this was the case and viewed their customers as relatively “captive.” (Please note that I am NOT villainizing the corrugated industry for this situation. Many industries have been held captive by shipping constraints. For example, concrete block manufacturers, building materials suppliers, and makers of large pieces of machinery all experienced this same phenomenon. In essence, the heavier the item, the more likely it was that purchases would be made locally.)
The Internet changed the corrugated industry, however, when a Minneapolis-based corrugated company launched a custom box website and made the product available to anyone with an Internet connection. Custom-sized boxes are likely to cost more regardless of where they are manufacturered and so this local manufacturer took their vision live and has been reaping the benefit of a national customer-base ever since.
What the Internet Means for Your B2B Business
The Internet is changing how business consumers make their business puchases and your business will change as a result. For some organizations–those with comprehensive ecommerce strategies in place–this change will most likely be positive as they acquire new customers. For those without an ecommerce strategy–and those that are counting on the fact that their industry is limited by geographic constraints, I’m here to tell you that those geographic limits are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Implement a cohesive ecommerce strategy and let current–and new–customers vote for your organization with each purchase.
To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider as You Begin an Ecommerce Initiative.