What do modern B2B customers expect from you?

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Why is a B2B e-commerce strategy important?

B2B e-commerce is growing rapidly. These are the figures for the Netherlands[1]

  • In 2021, 91% of business buyers will buy a product through a webshop.
  • The number of online orders from B2B buyers grew by 50%.
  • 40% of B2B buyers expect to make more purchases online by 2022.
  • 4 in 10 buyers expect to place more than 90% of their orders online by 2025.
  • More than half of the business customers who buy online are 50+. This means that the adoption of B2B e-commerce is breaking generational barriers.

Internationally, there has been a similar trend. Worldwide B2B e-commerce spending is estimated to have exceeded $6.7 trillion by 2020. This online spending is expected to grow by an average of 18.7 percent per year.

Why are B2B customers buying online more frequently?

The way B2B customers orient themselves and make purchases is changing rapidly. This has everything to do with the experiences B2B customers have at home. They are used to the convenience of large B2C players such as Amazon. They expect that customer experience when placing B2B orders as well. Another important factor is that a new generation is entering the employment market. These are digital natives who are online oriented. They also expect this experience when they place business orders.

What do B2B customers expect from you?

  • Flexibility: B2B customers are increasingly working hybrid jobs and at inconsistent hours. They therefore want to order where and when it is convenient for them. Even after business hours.
  • Self-service: Especially when it comes to repeat orders or simple orders, customer contact with an account manager or office staff is simply inefficient for many buyers.
  • Convenience: It is important for buyers to be able to find the right products quickly and easily. No more browsing through a catalogue, but filtering or searching through the range online. And of course they expect to be able to navigate through your product range on their smartphone.
  • Speed: Today's order is tomorrow’s delivery. That’s the standard in the B2C market and will soon be the norm in the B2B market as well.
  • Insight: Automatic order confirmations, digital portals to view your order history and invoices. Business customers want to stay in control after the purchase and always want to have insight in the status of their order.

[1] Results B2B e-commerce Monitor 2021, conducted by Ipsos

How do you respond to these shifting customer needs?

The first step is to develop an omnichannel strategy. The focus is not on your sales channels but on the customer's needs. The customer can carry out every step of the orientation and purchasing process via any channel. Whether it's a physical branch, the webshop, your app or a marketplace. But also think about your communication channels. It shouldn't matter to the customer whether he or she asks a question by phone, email, app, social media or chat. Of course it is not a requirement to include all channels. In your omnichannel strategy you determine which communication and sales channels match the needs of your customer.

How do you offer an integrated customer experience across all channels?

In order to offer B2B customers a seamless customer and brand experience both offline and online via various channels, it is important that you connect business processes. You want to get rid of separate databases and fragmented information flows. That's why more and more companies are opting for a single platform solution like OrderCentral. This type of single platform solution integrates all your processes and data in the fields of marketing, sales, e-commerce, order management and service.

What are examples of an integrated B2B customer experience?

  • When a customer has a question about an order, a service employee immediately sees that the order was placed last week via the app. And that the customer had asked his account manager for advice beforehand by telephone.
  • When a customer logs into your webshop, he or she sees prices that include individual agreements on volume discounts, for example. Does this customer place the same order at one of your physical locations? The sales representative there will be able to show the correct rates with ease.
  • Customers receive the same, relevant product recommendations in the webshop and through social media ads. For example, based on their order history or based on the buying behaviour of similar customers.

How does OrderCentral meet the needs of B2B companies?

OrderCentral offers your customers a seamless, integrated customer experience. It's a single platform cloud solution, based on the globally deployed Salesforce software. The great strength of OrderCentral is that it's tailored entirely to the processes and e-commerce needs of B2B companies. For example, you'll be able to create multiple or custom storefronts, and collaborate with partners and dealers in a smooth way. OrderCentral also supports price and asset management, and you're assured of B2B payment providing solutions. Curious to see how it works? Take a look at our online demo.