Any good B2B ecommerce strategy is going to be built on a solid foundation, but that foundation will crumble if it doesn’t take the needs of its customers into account.
Your customers, whether you’re aware of it or not, are only interested in a handful of things:
- Receiving a quality product for a good price
- Getting that product where it needs to be on time
- Doing all of the above with the least amount of work possible
Now, this has nothing to do with being lazy (the “least amount of work possible” bit) and everything to do with having too much to do and not enough time to do it.
In the modern era, there are still quite a few manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and importers who are only able to deliver on numbers 1 and 2 above — 3 might be a little difficult.
One of the biggest barriers to efficiency is a lack of a digital strategy and a lack of investment in the basics. If you can’t offer your customers a customized online portal or electronic documentation, the only thing setting you apart from the competition is quality and price.
And if all you’re competing on is price…
You may find that your customers are running off (or that you’re losing out on acquiring new customers in the first place).
If Your Competitors Don’t Offer Ecommerce, You Have a Real Chance to Set Yourself Apart
There’s another side to this, of course.
If you’re reading this, you may just now be jumping into the digital age, or maybe you’ve already been there a while and realized that you have some work to do.
Here’s the good news — a large number of manufacturers, distributors, importers, and wholesalers are still not offering ecommerce solutions.
This isn’t a result of laziness, as I’m sure you well know. Sometimes, the funds just aren’t there to invest in new digital infrastructure. Sometimes, even when the funds are there, the time that’s required to get everything up and running, train everyone on the new piece of software, and then help customers make the switch…
Well, that can take a lot of time, in some cases, and that time just might not be available either.
Because so many of your competitors have not made the digital leap, you have a real opportunity to shine, to take on the new technological advances and show your customers that technology can make their lives easier in the long run, and not harder.
If You Haven’t Invested in an End-to-End B2B Ecommerce Solution, You Haven’t Invested in the Basics
Another big problem with many ecommerce strategies is that they’re not complete solutions. You see situations where the technology is not running as smoothly as it could, with lots of manual solutions still peppered in between.
A good B2B ecommerce strategy is going to consider every aspect of the ordering and shipping process and automate wherever possible. You need, in no particular order:
- A customized online customer portal
- Web-based order processing
- Dedicated sales rep portals
- Automated order fulfillment
- The ability to integrate with existing warehousing systems
- The ability to integrate with your QuickBooks desktop instance
And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
To really be effective, you’re going to need an entire digital order system that’s going to move your customers through the purchase process with minimal effort from your sales team. That being said, if you pick up new customers, only for them to find out that you aren’t able to simply and easily take their recurring orders online, or that they don’t have an easy way to track their shipments, or that they can’t get electronic bills of lading…
You get the idea. It’s tough to make a sale (and keep business) when the basic infrastructure isn’t in place. Your customers are going to walk in the door with a set of expectations, and if you can’t meet those expectations, you better have some serious deals in terms of quality or price, or it’s going to be hard to keep them around.
But, if you’re already competitive on quality or price and you’re able to make everyone’s life easier through a complete, end-to-end B2B ecommerce system, then these new customers of yours end up becoming customers for life.
Learn How Now Commerce Can Give Your Customers and Potential Customers the Solutions They’ve Been Looking For
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