Mobile commerce is revolutionizing how people purchase products online and there has been some question in business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce circles as to whether such technology is relevant to the B2B organization. Not only is mobile commerce relevant to companies with B2B ecommerce initiatives, the use of mobile commerce as a business building strategy is essential if an organization wants to remain relevant over the next year. Grainger, the industrial supply company, is leading the way.
A leader within the B2B ecommerce space since 1995–long before ecommerce was a household concept, Grainger publicly acknowledged the importance of B2B ecommerce to its ongoing success and has dedicated considerable resources to creating a robust ecommerce presence. Now Grainger is expanding their reach with iPhone and Android mobile applications that “…make[s] finding, ordering and receiving products easier and more efficient. Find products using voice search on Grainger’s new mobile app for iPhone and Android smart phones. Moving beyond the standard trend of using mobile for information-gathering and leveraging it to help companies manage their workflow.” (Source: Industrial Distribution)
Grainger explains their reasoning for launching a mobile commerce app in the following quote: “We find that many people work away from their desks. By allowing these customers access to Grainger’s products anytime and anywhere, Grainger’s mobile technology helps them work more efficiently,” said Geoffrey Robertson, Grainger Vice President of eCommerce Strategy and Planning. “We are moving beyond the standard trend of using mobile for information-gathering and leveraging it to help companies manage their workflow.” (My emphasis, not the author’s. Source: Industrial Distribution)
Should Your Business Invest in Mobile Commerce?
You might be scratching your head and thinking, “Okay, lady. It’s all well and good that Grainger is offering a mobile commerce offering, but my organization doesn’t have the vast reach or deep pockets of Grainger. What makes mobile commerce a fit for me?” The truth of the matter is that mobile commerce isn’t just for the mega-distributors within the B2B space and that smaller organizations can benefit from being one of the leaders within the B2B mobile commerce space. Here are two ideas to consider as you decide whether B2B mobile commerce is right for your organization.
Mobile commerce isn’t going away. As more and more people get comfortable placing orders on their smart phones or tablet devices, mobile commerce is going to become a necessity rather than a “nice to have” feature. I would wager that in a very short time mobile commerce will be the online ordering method of choice ahead of placing orders from a desktop or laptop computer.
Your competition is moving into mobile commerce if they haven’t already. I hate to take the sensationalist stance on mobile commerce (e.g. “Do it now or get left behind!), but there is some truth to this mindset. Savvy B2B companies are investigating, investing in, and implementing mobile commerce strategies and mobile-optimized sites now. The wave is coming and it’s better to be on the cutting edge than to be relegated to being one of organization’s left following the pack.
As influential distribution companies like Grainger move forward with mobile commerce strategies, the bar will be set for other distributors and manufacturers. Mobile commerce functionality will become the expectation, putting smaller B2B organizations in the position of deciding whether or not to proceed. Investing in a mobile optimized ecommerce site along with iPhone and Android apps will ensure that your organization is positioned for future success.