Jan 20, 2019 09:04

A digital survival kit for B2B

By Tobias Bergström

5 key ecommerce facts you simply can’t ignore

Digitalized consumer behavior has been keeping B2C players on their toes for a number of years, as the needs and demands from consumers are constantly changing. Today, as 71% of B2B customers start their search with a generic search online*, B2B buyer behavior is increasingly mirroring that of the B2C consumer.  This is an inevitable development - the possibilities created by digital transformation for B2C can easily be used for B2B as well. The new generation of corporate buyers are expecting B2B companies to act on it, and do it right,  to make their buyer's journey as smooth as possible. Here is what you need to know to stay in the game: 


Consumerization - The B2B buyer is becoming more like the B2C one. 

Tough competition and changing consumer needs haven’t been as apparent for B2B companies as they have been for B2C. But now, B2B buyer behavior and expectations are rapidly changing. Don’t assume that just because your audience is B2B you can get away with a mediocre ecommerce site. You can’t ignore the need for super-fast load times, Instagram communication or real-time online customer service. The new generation of B2B buyers are “always on”, and not only during working hours - making their behavior less predictable. 


B2B buyers are no longer dependent on sales professionals to hold their hands through the entire buying process. 

 More B2B customers are looking for content that’s readily available online so they can educate themselves. This means that B2B marketers need to invest in creating content and apps that will help the modern B2B buyers make their decision. They also need to work harder to keep marketing efforts consistent across devices and channels. There is a lot of work to be done in this area, as research shows that 65% of buyers are frustrated by inconsistent experiences across devices and channels** . 


B2B on online marketplaces

Today’s B2B buyers are of course also using online marketplaces for their personal shopping. This sector is largely driven by Amazon, which accounted for 43% of all online sales in the United States in 2016. We can expect this trend to continue also in B2B commerce, as online marketplaces such as Amazon for Business are growing at a pace of 22% per year***. Many of the really big B2B online retailers have, or are in the process of launching, their own marketplace setup. This is a clear signal, if organizations want their e-commerce to reach its full potential, it is critical that they implement an online marketplace strategy. 


Time to update our B2B digital strategy and people

The days when B2B companies were operating more anonymously and behind the scenes are long gone. Establishing your brand and reaching out with its products through ecommerce channels is an evident must – but what does that mean in practice?
Developing your business in the right digital direction requires thoughtful – and informed – leadership. As such, it is crucial to hire people and leaders who have a firm grasp of the contemporary buyers, customers and markets as well as understanding the urgent need for developing a strong digital focus. If your Sales VP doesn’t know what a conversion rate is, you will struggle. If your Marketing Director isn’t planning for reach, CPC and SEO, you will probably be sub optimizing your spend. 

So, if you still think that the e-commerce and digital transformation execution is something for the IT or the digital department only, think again. 


The blurring of the borders between B2B and B2C enables us to create a supply chain omnipresence. You can be whatever you want – retailer, distributor, manufacturer or brand owner. Or all of the above.

Globalization and digital transformation enable companies to drive sales through any channel.  Supply chain omnipresence allows sellers to widen their reach tremendously without having to manage broadly distributed and inconsistent data, order information, customer profiles, and inventory held in multiple, disparate systems that don’t talk with each other. Fewer resources are required to manage product data, marketing, merchandising, and selling operations. With a supply chain infrastructure in place, you can quite easily use a B2C e-commerce platform to support B2B features and marketplaces. At the same time, B2B e-commerce platforms are enabling sellers to launch B2C e-commerce and marketplace capabilities. Everyone can be everything.

One of Avensia’s customers, quality shirt manufacturer Stenströms, is a fine example of a company who futureproofed their business by creating a supply chain omnipresence. During the initial meetings with Avensia’s advisors, Stenströms’ idea was to only have a B2B site, to optimize their way of working with agents and retailers. But when the partnership between Stenströms and Avensia was signed, the ambition of the project was altered completely. Instead of just building a B2B, they realized that since they were investing in a new platform, they might as well future-proof their business, and launch a B2C as well, on the same platform. That would bring Stenströms’ products to their customers, beyond the limitations of shop opening hours. A very classic B2B business went B2C with ease, because they already had the infrastructure and supply chain in place for it. Read the whole story about Stenströms' journey together with Avensia.

If you would like to learn more about how you can leverage these trends for your business and capture the enormous revenue and efficiency benefits available for you, reach out to me! I’m a quick email away at tobias.bergstrom@avensia.com

Is your ecommerce in need of a check-up? Take a look at our Healthcheck for B2B ecommerce


Read more about Tobias and the other commerce strategists

Read Tobias' blog post about EDI


* https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanerskine/2017/12/28/how-to-turn-b2b-buyers-into-sales-leads-according-to-data/#28a2fa255a18
** https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/do-you-really-understand-how-your-business-customers-buy




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