What The B2B Market Can Learn From Retailers

Does buyer behavior drive changes in B2B eCommerce innovation or does eCommerce innovation drive changes in buyer behavior? This question greatly matters to many B2B executives at the moment. It might be best answered by saying that the best service standard your customer has experienced anywhere is instantly the service standard they will expect everywhere. Your B2B buyer is likely experiencing the personalized, omni-channel greatness of numerous retailers out there every single day- and so what do you think they will inherently grow to expect when they sit down at their desk for the day, ready to make purchases for their business. Are you offering them a piece of that greatness or creating a rift in your relationship, making them start to research other similar companies that can offer this enlightened experience they have grown to expect?

The good news is that digital transformation doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your systems as many out there fear it needs to be. Many retailers have found out the hard way by struggling to execute on large transformation efforts in time and succumbing to bankruptcy over the past year. However, look at those retailers who focused on finding their gap areas and choosing the best technology solutions to improve upon them and serve their customers. Those are your winners. Retailers who focused on finding solutions to their specific weaknesses and gaps were then able to move forward offering innovation solutions that ultimately gave them a competitive edge.  Take the department store giant Nordstrom, citing in 2018 a year-on-year growth rate of 23% for online sales, which now accounts for more than a third of total revenues. What changed in their strategy, their technology to account for this increase? They are leveraging both their brick-and-mortar stores and since 2011 worked to expand their online offerings- tripling the number of items on Nordstrom.com and revamping both their flagship website and NordstromRack.com. This omni-channel approach is working, as customers who visit both are likely to spend upwards of five times more. By focusing their efforts on powerful uses of data, updating eCommerce and mCommerce user experiences as well as in-store experiences, they are well on their way to not only surviving, but thriving. They The B2B market can learn from efforts like this, as their own customers expectations are quickly mirroring that of the retail industry.

68% of B2B Buyers prefer doing business online versus with a salesperson.

That's a loaded number. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want you to rid your offices of sales people. It just means you need to start giving them the option. Again, back to Nordstrom- where they have the most benefiting operating model is in working multiple channels.

Why do B2B brands have trouble overcoming the gap of offering an overall streamlined self-service online experience for their customers? Brands cite numerous reasons, including:

In order to grow intelligently, a business needs to respond first, respond correctly and be unified. Choosing the right best-in-class eCommerce and CPQ technology will allow B2B merchants the ability to lead with the customer-centric mentality required in today's competitive market. Customers will then be able to be served how they want to be and the company is creating a solid foundation for their future.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, a traditional B2B brand can’t just bolt on technology and expect customer expectations to be met; they must re-envision their company with customer-serving technologies at its heart. First identify your weaknesses in serving the customer and then implement the right innovative technology to help fix those weaknesses – not the other way around.

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