B2B e-commerce may be the fastest-growing part of the digital pie. Yet, all too many B2B brands are sitting it out – and leaving profit on the table.
In part, a conflict of definitions may be to blame.
Many enterprises feel they “don’t sell B2B,” yet all B2B businesses can prosper online. That includes suppliers, but also wholesalers, distributors with “named” accounts, and those who sell to schools and nonprofits.
Most of the time, however, companies simply don’t know to “get in on the game.”
To get started in B2B e-commerce, try these strategies:
1 Focus on Customer Education
B2B buyers are doing product research online, but the difference between one brand and another isn’t always clear to them. You can use your Web content strategy to educate prospects. Start by zooming in on their biggest problems, pain points, and questions. This content builds the trust you need to spark a relationship that will ultimately lead to sales.
2 Drive Existing Customers Online
Printed documentation, standard support calls, and other conventional “analog” processes are going digital at an accelerated rate. As Millennials become more influential, the need for self-paced online experiences will only grow. Be proactive in helping your existing customers find the resources they need online, where engagement and upselling are both easier.
3 Integrate Loyalty Programs with Ordering
The power of loyalty programs is already being exploited aggressively by leading B2C brands like Amazon. What many don’t realize, however, is that it can be just as effective to link rewards and buying behavior in B2B. Not only can you catalyze more repeat sales and higher lifetime value, but such programs raise interest in customer self-service – reducing your overhead.
4 Use Digital Marketing to Make Your Business Scalable
Once you accept the idea that prospects will access and use the online resources that are most relevant to them, you can use digital tools to scale your marketing exponentially. For example, you only have to write a series of marketing emails once before you can deploy it to every customer who signs up to your mailing list from then on – whether thousands or millions.
5 Empower Team Members to Do More with Technology
The power of digital marketing doesn’t end with the customer. Tying cross-functional team members into your e-commerce system yields remarkable benefits in efficiency. For example, your customer service agents should be able to reach out to prospects proactively with live chat. Your sales team members should get Web analytics data to help them rank leads.
Buyer needs are changing. Businesses that adapt to the new online reality will find it easier to maintain strong customer relations, build a reputable brand, and attract business in the future.