B2B buyers want the same intuitive, self-service experiences they receive in the B2C world. A report suggests many will shift their loyalties to the omnichannel sellers that meet these needs.
According to a new Salesforce-commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, B2B buyers say that omnichannel investments lead to greater buyer satisfaction and loyalty. Fifty-six per cent of respondents said that buyer satisfaction will suffer if they fail to meet customers on their own terms, with 50% reporting that they believe customers would turn to their competitors. Today, one in four B2B organisations say their primary business objective for implementing online commerce is to improve buyer satisfaction.
In January 2018, CloudCraze, now Salesforce B2B Commerce, commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the state of omnichannel B2B eCommerce adoption. Forrester conducted an online survey with 315 eCommerce and sales strategy decision makers at manufacturing and consumer goods companies to explore this topic. The respondents were based in the US, Benelux, Germany, France, and the UK.
Forrester estimates that B2B ecommerce in the U.S. will reach $1.2 trillion by 2021, or 13% of all B2B sales.
The report identifies three main findings from the report which is stimulating the growth of B2B sector.
Meet your customers on their terms
In a world where B2B ecommerce is becoming mainstream, companies must implement omnichannel solutions that serve customers when and where they want, with seamless integration across all channels and devices.
The push for channel expansion is apparent across the B2B sector. Seventy-three percent of B2B businesses sell through an ecommerce or online sales portal today, and B2B businesses say an average of 27% of their revenue comes from digital channels.
However, leading organisations are prioritising their digital investments to streamline interactions with customers across all channels. In fact, 36% of organisations execute or optimise their omnichannel strategies, while 61% are planning or implementing one soon.
Develop the staff and skills to execute
To successfully execute an omnichannel strategy, you need support from all levels of your organisation including IT, logistics and especially a top-down cultural embrace of omnichannel initiatives. Many businesses struggle to check all these boxes.
While B2B companies realise the importance of investing in omnichannel selling strategies, many are not quite ready to fully evolve. The biggest obstacles for most firms lie with inefficient processes, lack of skilled staff, and failure to invest in the right technology.
Forty-eight per cent of B2B sellers said they have the staff and skills necessary to execute omnichannel strategies, and 41% said the same about clearly defined responsibilities and processes. Even worse, only 40% say they have the tools and platforms necessary to execute omnichannel strategies.
Before diving into an omnichannel investment, businesses have to consider if their team is properly skilled to handle new tools and processes. Businesses also have to consider if you have the right infrastructure in place to handle a technological overhaul.
Embrace cloud commerce
Despite potential gaps in culture, processes, and technology, B2B organisations are optimistic about the potential effectiveness of their omnichannel commerce strategies. Eighty-three per cent of B2B organisations say they expect to increase the volume of eCommerce sales over the next three years. Forty-three per cent say SaaS solutions are able to do just that, and 49% say they execute solutions faster.
Enterprise Times: What this means for businesses?
B2B selling, is often seen as the necessary evil in the digital environment. While businesses, particularly retailers are sensitive to the needs of customers. Suppliers, business partners and other components of the supply chain are often left the short straw with inferior technologies and platforms to manage the commercial relationships.
Digital businesses win, serve, and retain customers by continuously creating and exploiting digital assets to simultaneously deliver new sources of customer value and increase their operational agility. However, this trend is often not reflected in businesses relationships with their supply chain.
Consequently, it’s not surprising the trend picked up in the report. The report found that as B2B sellers turn to eCommerce selling, they must leverage technology to help overcome cultural and legacy business process obstacles. Doing so is key to their future, as many firms see eCommerce as critical to growth.