There isn't any question that customer engagement in the B2B world is more imperative than ever in a time when buyers want a more personalized experience with companies they buy from. Creating brand loyalty is never easy in a world where B2B competition is so intense. You're possibly feeling this pinch lately and wondering how you can stand out from hundreds of other B2B companies selling the same products you do.
Order management software has so much potential of being great, yet you seldom see companies go the extra mile to add features that truly help a customer. Not making it easier for customers only ruins the goal toward more growth and loyal customers in your business. It also hurts you in the long run since competition is more than likely growing more intense. Treating customers like a random number only leads to them leaving you for nearby competitors who are doing it better.
As new technology disrupts the B2B market, B2B customers are adapting to new ways of doing business. Increased personalization, mobility, and automation are the leading trends. Previously, B2B operations have been a little behind in offering their customers this type of B2C experience. They weren't sure if offering their customers an online experience could still enable them to build customer relationships and increase ROI. But now, with online sales expected to increase within the next five years, wholesalers, manufactures and distributors need to invest more in bringing a typical e-commerce experience to the B2B world.
Forrester's US B2B report predicts that e-commerce will grow from $780 billion to $1.13 trillion over the five years between 2015 and 2020. It will constitute more than 12% of the total B2B market at that time. The B2B buying habits of business purchasers are already heavily influenced by the capabilities of one-line options. The report also points out that nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers are conducting at least half of their buying online.
Any company that is looking to expand its reach should be asking the question, "What is B2B e-commerce?" When wholesalers and distributors reach their max capacity with internal teams and outside sales reps, companies have a hard time growing their business. The answer to growth may very well lie in expanding their business to business (B2B) model. By expanding into an e-commerce model, small businesses who can’t afford a lot of overhead expense are able to expand their markets.
Business-to-business commerce is the first idea that jumps into people's minds when they think of how a wholesaler or distributor operates. Some examples are looking for local companies to get supplies, looking at warehouses to hold your inventory, finding a retailer to provide a market, or sourcing shipping companies to send your products. B2B e-commerce is the transfer of that normal operation from traditional routes to ones conducted over the Web. It's when businesses find suppliers and make purchases on-line without using the traditional means of placing orders with a sales rep or over the phone or fax with a customer service rep in the home office.
For years, B2C e-commerce had surged while the B2B version had either been stagnant or was growing only slowly. At first, wholesalers and other B2B suppliers didn't believe that e-commerce was important to their customers, and this was a big reason for the disparity. Once they realized that e-commerce could bring in more wholesale business and keep loyal customers, B2B companies began to put some actual effort into adding online ordering capabilities to their offerings. Even then, however, investment was lacking and improvements have been slow in coming. These attitudes could prove to be detrimental in today's world. But the mindset is now changing.
How successful wholesalers make the most of order entry software all comes down to how comprehensively easy it is to use for both employees and customers. Yes, adding customers into the order entry equation frequently gets overlooked. Some companies don't always make it easy for sales reps or the back office either.
B2B e-commerce has long needed some reinventing to become more personal and customized for buyers. The relationship between B2B companies and buyers still has a tendency toward formality to allow any loyal friendships. Loyalty in buyers is no doubt important to you and your own B2B company, especially when you have to rely on those customers when buying season slows down.
It's possible you're looking to increase customer engagement with order management software this year, though may not know where to turn in finding the right product. Order management software is certainly ubiquitous in the market, yet it's not always easy to find something that helps engage your customers with interactive and easy to use features. For the B2B industry, not having proper engagement with buyers is a major risk nowadays when you consider 94% of all B2B buyers’ research B2B companies before buying from them.