February 14 by Omer Minkara
Find the video introduction to this blog series here.
Did you know that sixty percent of B2B E-Commerce firms use at least seven channels to sell, market, and provide customer service for their products? When you add in the channels used by a company’s third-party distribution partners, you have a maze of interactions that companies must master to attain their desired results.
Related: Download the Ultimate Guide to Omni-Channel E-Commerce for Free Now
When products and services are sold through multiple channels and partners, managing the consistency of messages buyers receive becomes both critical and complex. For example, a B2B eCommerce firm might list a product at $30,000 on its website. Meanwhile, a partner might list the same product for $35,000 and another for $25,000. Price discrepancies such as these send a confusing message to customers, and such confusion can lead to lost sales. For this reason, an omni-channel approach to both communications and partner management, one ensuring that all elements of an eCommerce program deliver a consistent and truly personalized customer experience, is an absolute necessity.
The Digital Disruption
Findings from Aberdeen’s research reveal that B2B firms adopting an omni-channel approach to E-Commerce programs enjoy 2.1 times greater year-over-year growth in annual company revenue, compared to those that don’t. In addition, these firms see a 14.7% annual increase in product margins while also increasing customer satisfaction rates by 15.0% year over year. Taken together, these findings indicate that, despite the complexity of modern B2B eCommerce programs, there is a clear way for B2B companies to master their digital transformations.
The digital transformation has clearly disrupted traditional ways of doing business. Online marketplaces for B2B E-Commerce, marketplaces such Amazon Business and Kinnek that allow businesses to sell their products to other businesses in a consumer-like digital environment, are one such disruption. Buyers prefer such options as it gives them the ability to compare different companies and products on a single platform, thus minimizing complexity when purchasing products. For B2B firms, however, this adds complexity to the selling process. Specifically, these marketplaces represent one more place where companies must closely monitor buyer behavior to ensure that the product pricing, features, and post-sale services provided remain consistent.
Path to Omni-Channel Success
To respond to these changes, B2B eCommerce firms must accept that traditional, company-centric ways of doing business no longer work. Instead, the path to success for B2B eCommerce firms requires doing business the way customers want to do business. This involves working hard to ensure their every activity meets and exceeds buyer needs.
At the same time, they must manage their partners in order to accomplish the same objective. This means influencing partner behavior by providing incentives and recommendations. For example, companies can provide partners with guidelines on when and how to discount products, both to help partners maximize sales opportunities as well as to ensure that any discounts don’t affect the positioning of the brand in the marketplace. Similarly, partners can be incentivized with rewards (e.g., preferred partner status or exclusive access to a pool of qualified leads) based on the success of their own omni-channel eCommerce efforts.
Concerned about the complexity of managing multiple partners in a complex eCommerce ecosystem while simultaneously ensuring consistency and personalization of customer conversations? Stay tuned for our next post highlighting how machine learning helps modern B2B eCommerce firms reduce this complexity and maximize sales effectiveness.