It’s no secret that B2B companies are in a different place now than they were just a few short years ago. It used to be custom practice to schedule a series of sales meetings with a potential customer and then sign the deal. Now? That’s all replaced with Zoom meetings and online ordering thanks to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and an increased reliance on technology due to social distancing.
As a B2B agency, it is important to understand how to adapt to the process and overcome certain challenges. While eCommerce still works quite well in this type of environment, it is important to realize that you’ll need to make certain accommodations that B2C companies don’t. Here are three common B2B eCommerce challenges and how to overcome them, plus how B2C firms handle the same issue.
Selling Online Isn’t as Personal
The Challenge: One of the biggest challenges for B2B eCommerce is that selling online isn’t as personal as meeting face-to-face. While most customers look forward to asking their dedicated account manager how to handle an issue or place an order, eCommerce customers don’t exactly have this same luxury.
The Solution: First, your customers should be able to self-service via your B2B website with information that’s adaptive to their needs. This means having updated pricing, availability, and shipping automatically adjust to their customer group when they’re logged in. Second, you need to have an easy method for customer service. Maybe this means you have sales reps, but they’re available through online chat or phone call only. Being as responsive to your customers’ needs is the end goal, which both of these options achieve.
How B2C Companies Can Fix This: If your retail brand is struggling with connecting to clients, it might be a good idea to try to reach out to them in more personal ways. There are a ton of methods for customizing the shopping process, both on-site and through efficient email strategy for eCommerce.
The Sales Cycle is Much More Complex
The Challenge: When it comes to B2B sales in general, the overall sales cycle is often much more complex. For example, there might be multiple decision makers that have to all agree before an order is placed. Or they might need to gather large amounts of information about a product before agreement on sales terms.
The Solution: Having a website with as much information and access to data about individual products is important. You might not always be able to chime in on a Zoom call or other meeting when your B2B decision makers are reviewing data. That means your eCommerce website has to work as a standalone sales tool effectively. Include product brochures, sales videos, spec sheets, price guides, excellent photos, and more.
How B2C Companies Can Fix This: In most cases, B2C companies don't really have to compete with a complex sales cycle. Most of their customers just login and make a purchase. However, including enough information and photos of items on your product pages can still improve your overall conversions.
B2B Customers Need Flexible Payment Options
The Challenge: With B2C eCommerce, asking customers to pay with a credit card is standard. When selling to other businesses, the payment options need to be much more flexible. Some companies require extensive invoicing terms that aren’t exactly streamlined with what your other customers need.
The Solution: Offering a B2B credit solution or working with a third-party company to provide extended payment terms is the easiest way to ensure your clients get what they need. There are many methods for working this into your website so that the customer’s agreed terms are already loaded into their profile when placing an order.
How B2C Companies Can Fix This: Perhaps more than ever, consumers want flexible payment options, too. While it probably wouldn't make sense to offer extended terms, there are plenty of credit services out there (Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay) that allow shoppers to divide their total payment due into several convenient monthly payments, some with and without interest.
Wrap Up: Solving B2B & B2C eCommerce Challenges
Still not sure how to totally overcome these challenges? Working with a dedicated eCommerce agency that understands the unique approach required in B2B sales and in B2C online retail is important. Furthermore, it should be a team that gets why having a good website with adaptive approaches and a positive user experience (UX) is so crucial.
At CAKE, we want to make sure you’re reaching your target market while still offering the same excellent service you were once able to provide with face-to-face sales teams. Please contact us today to discuss options and additional omnichannel marketing methods.