How to Meet B2B Customers New Expectations in a Self-Service World
In the age of self-checkouts and one-click online shopping, how many B2B companies are still forcing their customers to order and reorder materials and products through an offline, sales rep only model? The answer will surprise you: 37% of B2B companies are primarily selling through in-person means. Meanwhile, only 41% sell primarily through online, eCommerce buying options.
Whether over the phone, through fax, or email, the friction of your buying process is losing customers and revenue. In the rapidly evolving and almost entirely online world, how important is it to allow your customers to serve themselves online with eCommerce?
The answer? Extremely, the shift is urgently imperative and unavoidable.
With 46% of B2B buyers being in the 25-34 age range, and expected to grow to 75% by 2025, the new largest group in the workforce demands the features they’ve come to expect from buying and selling online themselves, at work.
They don’t want to talk to a sales rep.
They don’t want to use a fax machine.
They don’t want to go through multiple hoops to get a quote.
So, how do you service a demographic that wants fast, direct buying options without the friction of the typical B2B buying experience? Why should you work to provide the experiences and features this group has come to expect, as soon as possible? Let’s find out.
Why do you need self-service options now?
Changing buyer expectations, both due to COVID-19 and the inevitable shift of millennials in the buying force, is the biggest reason why B2B companies need to start providing online self-service buying options.
“During the pandemic, it was revealed that all communications, even purchasing through a business, can be done digitally,”
– Redstage CEO Adam Morris.
Now that these faster, easier, and more convenient channels of selling have been proven to be able to be done, they are now the expectation of buyers. What used to be “nice-to-have” features, like advanced site searching capabilities, product filtering, and shipping options, are expectations for the new generation of B2B buyers. Let buyers speak for themselves, as Demand Gen Report’s B2B Buyers Survey found that 67% of B2B buyers surveyed said they wanted easier access to pricing as one of their top desires in the buying process. It’s never been more important to invest in your online buying portal or eCommerce operations.
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Another one of the biggest things you’re missing out on but not fully utilizing digital self-service buying options is capturing quality, actionable, and insightful data from your customers. Without this extremely valuable data, outlining how your customers move from product to product, how they interact with checkout, when they checkout, and more, you are unable to optimize the sales process to its full potential.
Australian-based, packaged explosives materials manufacturer Orica has its materials in 1,500 explosions per day. Up until very recently, the data for these materials was kept on pen and paper, according to the Harvard Business Review. Orica decided to invest heavily into digitizing this data into one source of truth, allowing for more efficient model development, post-blast measurements, and product analytics. Their new data hub, endearingly titled Blast IQ, is said to provide “benchmarks and insights to ensure sustainable, cost-effective improvements in performance.”
How Do I Get Started?
Ultimately, in order to provide a buying process with minimal friction, that captures insightful and impactful analytics, and is easily scalable and sustainable you must invest in digital, self-serving buying options through eCommerce. It begins with overcoming what we call “technical debt” and investing in upgrading your current infrastructure, check out this on-demand Q&A our Senior eCommerce Platform Expert put on explaining technical debt here.
This paves the way for implementing digital options like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), or many other digital solutions for complex business operations. Streamlining and automating these processes opens the door to increased flexibility to scale, increased productivity, and revenue growth.
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