It’s no surprise to realize that nearly two-thirds of all business-to-consumer e-commerce sales occur on direct-to-consumer marketplaces. And with extensive study of consumer preferences for more choice and better pricing, e-commerce brand leaders like Amazon and Walmart have built virtual empires.
Digital marketplaces are similarly poised to revolutionize the business-to-business segment. This opportunity will allow distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers… to grow relationships with end-users.
The potential for B2B companies to leverage marketplaces is huge, considering the B2B market is estimated to be about twice the size of the B2C market. Overall, global B2B e-commerce sales are anticipated to grow at an annual rate of 14% over the next five years, reaching nearly $19 trillion by 2027. Amid this rapid expansion, Building Product Brands should be poised and well-versed in the evolving marketplace model to enhance online opportunities.
As this move toward digital marketplaces evolves, e-commerce is beginning to shift from a nice-to-have… to a must-have.
Consider that some 65% of B2B companies — across industries — are fully transacting online in 2022, according to McKinsey & Company. That means for the first time, B2Bs are more likely to offer e-commerce over in-person sales.
Why is that? Because e-commerce drives revenue. The same study from McKinsey & Company shows that about 18% of B2Bs’ revenue is coming directly from e-commerce… that’s more than phone and email. This correlates with data shared from Wonderman Thomson, which revealed that as of 2021, 49% of B2B buying — across the UK, US and China — occurs online.
What’s clear, to succeed in B2B e-commerce, it’s no longer acceptable to have a basic website. Or offer subpar customer experiences.
Yet, 52% of B2B buyers report that they’re frustrated with the online buying experience. And even worse, a staggering 90% of B2B buyers report that they’d turn to a competitor… if a supplier’s digital channel couldn’t meet their needs.
To deliver the kinds of experiences buyers demand, Building Product Brands must continue to prioritize digital transformation.
The following steps are some of the ways to embrace a digital transformation. And to turn the threat of e-commerce… into the opportunity of e-commerce.
Leave behind legacy systems
In order to deliver better experiences for customers — as consumer brand leaders have learned — it’s vital for right systems to be in place.
Why upgrade an existing system without fully considering how the future will affect these “immediate-need” decisions? Afterall, when “later on” actually arrives… it well may be much more difficult, to integrate new technologies on archaic platforms.
Instead, develop a digital transformation strategy that’s guided by overall business goals and vision. Rather than merely considering technology.
Personalize the online shopping experience
Research finds that 50% of B2B buyers identify improved personalization as a key feature when searching for online relationships. Taking a lesson from the B2C side… consumers spend 48% more when their experience is personalized.
Explore social media platforms
Building Product Brands must elevate their social media prowess. After all, buyers are already leveraging these channels.
According to Gartner, about 46% of B2B buyers use social media to learn about available solutions. 40% use it to compare solutions. And 35% use social channels to gather more information… before completing a purchase.
Consider the platforms most relevant to each audience persona and leverage a variety of highly compelling posts. Perhaps videos of how a particular product works. Or testimonials from customers sharing authentic experiences. Then, study responses and engagement which can aid in gauging the size of potential audiences.
Prioritize product discovery and information
A top pain point for B2B buyers shopping online — is finding products that are accurately inventoried — and properly described.
There are several ways manufactures can address this opportunity. For example, with product information management (PIM) software. PIMs collect, manage and distribute product information across channels… from e-commerce storefronts or apps. To sales channels and third-party marketplaces. Even advertising networks.
The right software can store all catalog information in one place that’s fully integrated, so that updates and changes show up in real time. Chatbots continue to grow in popularity… directing shoppers to product pages and answering questions.
Sell through third-party online marketplaces
Marketplaces have become an essential part of the B2B buyer journey and are often the priority target for audiences, commencing product searches.
Consider that 15% of US buyers and 20% of UK buyers make their purchases through Amazon Business… just one of many third-party B2B marketplaces.
Attracting new customers. Making more sales. Creating opportunities to reach further into global markets. And for testing new products.
Fulfill orders even faster
We have all grown accustomed to same day — or next day — delivery expectations. B2Bs can streamline fulfillment processes by effectively leveraging order management software… to manage orders across different sales platforms. As well as to centralize information. And to reduce supply chain complexity.
Third-party fulfillment helps Building Product Brands scale fast. Reduce rising fulfillment costs. And simplify inventory management.
Yes, the future promises to reward those optimized online experiences that recognize ever-evolving buyer expectations.
Let’s talk together about integrating e-commerce marketplaces… exploring options and making plans that align with existing supply chain and distribution models. Send an email to Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the conversation started.