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Customer adoption of new eCommerce sites continues to be a problem for many distributors. Although Forrester Research has predicted that sales from B2B eCommerce will amount to $1.2 trillion in the United States by 2021, many B2B eCommerce sites are failing to meet their goals.

At Insite Software we believe a large contributor to this issue is a misunderstanding of the definition of “mobile” within the B2B commerce cycle. Put simply, a responsive website is not enough. A strong mobile strategy requires accommodating nearly, if not all, B2B commerce activity at the device level. In the past, however, price and technology have placed huge obstacles in the way for mid-sized distributors seeking to provide a robust mobile experience.

But things are clearly changing, making mobile a huge disruptor for distributors in 2018 for three primary reasons. First, users are demanding a rich mobile experience. Second, the productivity gains experienced from a high functioning native app can provide extraordinary value. And third, the cost of building these robust mobile experiences has dropped significantly.

 

Customers are Demanding a Rich Mobile Experience.

Customers are demanding nearly 100% functionality for every device they’re using. In January of 2017, eMarketer reported that 84% of millennials considered their mobile device essential to their work, with Gen X (aged 36-51) not far behind at 76%. As Boomers leave the distribution industry workforce, reliance on smartphones and mobile devices to do just about everything personally AND professionally will continue to increase.

And it’s not just a generational trend. A recent Google study found that 42% of B2B researchers used a mobile device at some point during the B2B purchasing process. Interestingly, nearly half of those professionals were using that mobile device while still at work. Both research and our empirical observation shows that the use of mobile technology within the B2B buying cycle, including during post-purchase activities, is rapidly becoming a larger and more important part of the customer experience. Distributors who stop at responsivity are going to lose customers if they don’t respond to this demand.

 

Companies are Building Competitive Edge Through Productivity and Efficiency Gains

The primary goal of any eCommerce solution should always be to make the B2B commerce environment, and the people within it, more efficient. Distributors who aren’t factoring mobile into their strategy are ignoring the ways in which mobile technology can transform how people work in the field, leading to incredible efficiency gains as well as reduced cost of sales.

Native mobile apps for B2B eCommerce should require capabilities like user-specific rich product catalogs, specific pricing and product recommendations, and sophisticated order and re-order capabilities. Although targeted functionality is important, the more critical need for mobile functionality is to personalize the experience for the individual user as it relates to their unique workflow. For example, does the Foreman on a jobsite need to know when their deliver will arrive? Are there specific items that a plumbing contractor might need to add to their purchase list that day? As we explained in our blog earlier, post-purhcase expectations may be high, particularly where returns and exchanges are involved. The mobile app must be fully functional, but also be smart, and integrated with all transactions occurring across the digital and offline B2B commerce system.

In this way mobile technology provides a bridge to a unified commerce experience so that no matter where the worker resides, they have access to the unique data and personalized information they need quickly and on demand.

 

Solutions are Offering Robust Mobile Capability Right Out of the Box

The good news for distributors is that providing a rich mobile experience is no longer a six-figure endeavor. Configurable native mobile apps are becoming a bigger part of B2B eCommerce solutions. Providing mobile capability out of the box eliminates the expensive design, development and upgrade costs associated with custom development. A rich mobile experience then becomes affordable to the mid-sized distributor.

To transform this disruptor into a competitive opportunity, distributors need to ensure their solution incorporates the primary needs of a mobile user not only from an experience perspective but from a data perspective as well. Just like the rest of a unified commerce environment, users on their mobile devices must have access to backend data from every relevant enterprise system. That data also needs to be available offline, when the sales or service representative is working in a remote area.

The more that mobile technology advances, the greater the disruption will be for those distributors left behind with a merely responsive site. Simply put, a distributor’s mobile strategy cannot end with a responsive site.

Your digital transformation journey should include a powerful mobile strategy that goes beyond responsivity to accommodate nearly, if not all, B2B commerce activity. When it comes to finding a solution best suited for your business, know exactly what you’re looking for with this free B2B Native Mobile App Benefits Checklist from Insite Software.

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