For today’s B2B buyer, an in-person rapport with the sales rep is no longer enough on its own. It must be matched by an engaging offering when the customer moves their transaction online later on. Afterall, a good relationship built in person can quickly be lost if they are then negatively impacted by badly designed digital processes and experiences.
Herein lies the growing importance of having a fast and frictionless omnichannel experience. It’s much more than simply having a nice looking digital shop front to point customers to when they want to come back and self-serve. To be competitive in today’s B2B space, and to make sales reps more productive, wholesalers and manufacturers are now looking at creating easy online experiences for their customers.
And this is a growing segment. According to market research specialists, Insider Intelligence, B2B e-commerce reached nearly $1.77 trillion in 2022, a 12 per cent rise from the previous year.
Far from a forced add on, B2B sales leaders are recognising the wider strategic potential of digital selling and responding with more functional innovation to their platforms. This means a platform that can support every stage of a B2B purchase, incorporating everything from sophisticated pricing strategies to reactive customer services.
In the world of wholesale, this requires software that can meet the unique and sometimes complex demands of an enterprise.
The wholesaler digital buying journey
Perhaps a lack of sector-specific digital trailblazers is to blame, but dependency on platforms ill-equipped to deal with the pace of today’s wholesaler digital buying journey, or even no digital platform at all, still persists.
Where B2C commerce transformed to digital sales earlier and faster than B2B, the requirements for a positive shopping experience are much lower. Providers such as BigCommerce and Shopify provide easy-to-set-up stores that cater to this.
By contrast, a B2B purchase is far more convoluted and rooted in longer purchase cycles. The CSO Insights 2019 report highlights that three-quarters (74.6 per cent) of B2B sales to new customers take at least four months to close, with almost half (46.4 per cent) taking seven months or more.
It’s not that surprising; prices have to be negotiated, multiple decision makers with varying priorities are involved, while regulatory compliance, dispatch times and distribution deadlines all have to be accommodated too.
For the e-commerce site there is a lot going on behind the scenes; disparate data sources need to seamlessly integrate, such as the CRM system connecting distributors and buyers to third party shipping and fulfillment. It’s why manual interventions, with a higher margin for error, must make way for fully automated infrastructure, which is far better placed to react to this evolving landscape faster and more easily.
The problem was that there were no composable commerce platforms on the market that could meet these complex B2B needs. Until now…
B2B composable digital platforms
With a composable approach, moving away from traditional monoliths, B2B businesses can upgrade their platform gradually and step-by-step. It gives them more flexibility to build digital processes that mirror the already existing processes in the real world. Using composable components means they can now replicate their unique business model with all of its complexities, and still provide the end user with a seamless and enhanced experience. For example, digitizing the process of quoting, quote approval, and customer-specific discounts.
Having a modular and composable digital commerce site means that features can be as easily scrapped as they are created, driving new service offerings, standardizing lead times and progressing upselling and cross selling opportunities without risk. This is the basis for easy, cheap experimentation, all with minimal cost and disruption.
In practice this means that every functionality is now split into separate microservices, such as CRM, CMS, or even the website search features, and these are provided by multiple software vendors that are selected for their respective expertise.
These services can be deployed, scaled and upgraded, or replaced independently, without impacting on the rest of the business or the customer experience. In this way, wholesalers and distributors are able to digitalize the entirety of their operation to boost revenue and productivity.
Meanwhile, deeper and more abundant data insights enjoyed by B2C retailers can also be harnessed in the B2B world to better inform the purchase journey, derive new buyer personas, customize pricing, and make personalized interventions. The result is more direct engagement with the end user, a relationship traditionally buffered by resellers and channel partners – consolidating that in person rapport with the sales rep.
By adopting a composable approach, today’s digital commerce platform is never the finished article. It’s more of a continual evolution, where wholesalers can strive for faster deployment, new iterations to meet changing business needs and a greater competitive edge.
Delivered through agile, intuitive infrastructure, B2B e-commerce can now be the catalyst for boosting efficiency throughout the supply chain, differentiating the value proposition and taking a greater share of the market. It becomes the tool to achieve business goals, scale the operation and accelerate the pace of change.
Get in touch for more information on how Emporix can help your business maximize this opportunity.
*Originally published on the MACH Alliance blog: https://machalliance.org/insights/unlocking-the-potential-of-b2b-digital-commerce-with-mach