No question, retaining B2B customers is essential for manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors to thrive. Every aspect of the customer retention equation needs to be in balance. Not only is product quality essential, contractual relationships, competitive negotiated prices and delivery are all tied in as well. Something which Covid-19 has thrown off-balance is the relationship between sales reps and their buyers. With face-to-face meetings, trade shows and travelling salespeople out during the pandemic, there are now other factors influencing customer retention.
One of these is Ecommerce. Research carried out in 2019 found that, although 75% of product purchases were already made online, buyers were still not buying as much online as they’d like. While 30% of B2B buyers would prefer to purchase at least 90% of products online, only 19% were doing so. With the need for companies to do more to meet this growing demand for B2B e-commerce pre-Covid, the necessity now is ten-fold. With growing demand for B2B ecommerce already there, the pandemic turbo charged online purchasing to the fore. A world class ecommerce experience is now a major part of the customer retention equation.
Here are 3 aspects of ecommerce which could help push up a B2B seller’s purchasing efficiency and hence customer retention:
Time-saving software integration is key. Easy and speedy purchasing and delivery is top of the list of B2B buyers expectations in our digital world. Some B2B ecommerce platforms, like Aspidistra’s Shopfront, include robust application programming interfaces. These APIs make it possible for manufacturers and distributors to easily accept and process purchase orders via electronic data interchange, in punch out solutions, or through direct integrations with the customer’s administrative or purchasing software.
Missing face-to-face contact with customers? Ecommerce can really step up in the role of sales rep, using big data instead of personal relationships to sell more to each B2B buyer. A sales rep would get to know a client, make suggestions of upcoming products they may be interested in and suggest complementary products. Ecommerce can do the same using data. B2B ecommerce can expose buyers to a manufacturer’s or distributor’s complete merchandising catalogue with cross-selling and personalisation built in.
B2B ecommerce software like Shopfront will automatically show buyers complementary products and special offers. When a B2B website’s merchandising and content contribute to product discovery, product knowledge, and purchasing success you’re partially fulfilled the role of sales rep with very little effort. It’s a win-win! Buyers will find what they need easily and keep coming back. B2B sellers will increase sales to each customer.
3. Buyers Reports
Did you know that a B2B ecommerce site can offer detailed reporting in almost real-time? This information is vital for buyers and may have been provided during monthly or quarterly client meetings in pre-Covid times. A fully integrated B2B ecommerce site means there’s no need for sales reps to process and handle this data, it’s all available to the client through their ecommerce website and can be accessed at any time. Once again this is a win-win for both buyer and seller. It cuts down on time for the seller and provides an efficient service to the buyer.
If you’re looking for a B2B ecommerce solution which truly understands B2B selling and integrates well with existing systems, Aspidistra can help. In addition to a full design ecommerce website, Aspidistra is offering a fast-track solution that can be up and running in two weeks and requires no capital expenditure. Contact us to find out more.