The manufacturing and distribution industries are ultra-competitive, complex and volatile. And it doesn’t end there. B2B buyers have evolved and studies show they prefer to self-serve today more than ever. In fact, according to a 2018 Forrester survey, more than 70% of B2B buyers find buying from a website to be more convenient than buying from a sales representative. In order to meet new customer demands for digital experiences and survive among fierce competition and the Amazon’s of the world, manufacturers and distributors have to focus on improving their eCommerce strategies.
In the last year we’ve seen a significant increase in the demand for more robust digital commerce offerings. Most B2B companies are starting to realize that B2B eCommerce is no longer just a “nice-to-have”– it’s survival. Manufacturers and distributors must digitally enable their teams and customers in order to build a sustainable business now and in the future.
Recognizing the need for eCommerce is one thing but making the right platform selection for your business is another – and it takes careful, strategic planning and evaluation.
Many manufacturers and distributors make the mistake of scheduling demos and comparing flashy features as soon as the need for eCommerce is recognized. But prior to comparing platforms, there are some strategic questions you’ll want to ask yourself (and your team) to ensure you are on the right path.
1. What are our true business goals?
Increasing revenue is a common goal of many eCommerce projects, but a strong B2B eCommerce strategy may also include goals that measure increases in efficiency and reductions to the cost of sales.
2. Which buying journeys do we need to accommodate?
B2B commerce is not limited to a simple buyer-seller relationship. Every role involved in the B2B buying cycle – from the buyer to the researcher, and even the accountant needs to be considered. The solution must make it easier for everyone to do their jobs.
3. How is B2C eCommerce different from B2B?
Many B2C vendors have moved to the B2B space to get a slice of the pie. But B2B eCommerce is far more intricate and requires accommodations for things like complex promotions, multi-site support, multiple users, etc.
4. What systems need to be integrated with the platform?
A synchronous integration strategy to backend systems like ERP, PIM, CRM and payment gateways is essential when choosing a B2B eCommerce solution.
5. Who are we partnering with?
B2B eCommerce is complex. It needs to support an entire ecosystem, from full-service sales and support, to self-service ordering and promotions. That means you need partners that understand the complexities of B2B.
When it comes time to start the selection process, you’ll want to evaluate each platform carefully. In our newest white paper with Nish Tech, we outline eight criteria for selecting the right B2B eCommerce platform for your business. Plus, find out what critical challenges B2B businesses are facing when it comes to implementation and read case studies from Thule, Nidec Motor Corporation and American Paper & Twine. Download the white paper below.