Analyse your sales data and chances are you’ll find that the times your customers place orders are directly linked to the times your reps pay them a call, especially if your main channel is field sales.
Even if customers have the ability to order on the phone or by email, there are likely to be significant, periodic spikes in demand that match up with the dates of rep visits or trade shows. In between these events, it’s common to see a lot less activity – which can play havoc with your cash flow and inventory management. And it’s not a great experience for your customers, either.
One of the biggest challenges with this type of traditional sales model is maintaining customer relationships outside of rep visits. It can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, as well as being irritating for customers who don’t want to be contacted by your customer service team every five minutes. On the flipside, if you don’t know when a customer’s stock is running low and your products aren’t always front-of-mind, competitors could easily steal the advantage
In our experience, many of the best performing manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors are addressing these issues by switching to a b2b ecommerce sales model. These companies are able to keep their customers connected at all times by offering them a self-service, round-the-clock ordering facility. Using a simple online interface that’s also optimised for mobile devices, customers can place orders when they choose – whether they’re at their desk, in the warehouse or at home.
With an ecommerce platform that’s integrated with business and accounting systems, your customers can quickly check product availability before they order, they automatically see their own prices and discounts, and they’re able to pay on account. As a result, the companies we work with are seeing an increase in order frequency from existing customers and they’re attracting new customers from competitors who have old fashioned, inflexible ordering processes.
In addition to smoothing out the peaks and troughs of the traditional sales cycle, moving to a b2b ecommerce approach can also increase the value of each order because you can target special offers and promotions at individual customers when they visit your site. What’s more, the entire process is automated, so it frees up time for your people to be more productive elsewhere in the business – and it allows your sales team to focus on strategic goals rather than processing transactions.
The upshot for your customers is greater convenience, faster order processing and a streamlined experience. For your business, moving to an ecommerce model will help to improve cash flow and profitability by delivering more sales, more often with more margin.