There’s plenty of opportunity in B2B e-commerce right now. Even distributors and manufacturers who have yet to implement e-commerce capabilities can still get in the game.
B2B Sales Channel Strategy
Distributors sell through multiple sales channels: outside sales, inside sales, ecommerce, customer service, VMI and more. But as customer expectations shift, the role of each channel in B2B sales continues to evolve. Customers are demanding a seamless experience no matter where they interact with the distributor.
To many distributors, e-commerce and e-business sound interchangeable. Yet, there are important differences in the definitions.
Your top 10% of customers are covered by field sales. How are you reaching the other 90%? The very largest of a distributor’s accounts (on average the top 5%) tend to make up 55% to 70% of a distributor’s revenue. They have massive buying power, and distributors typically offer them value-added services pro bono.
E-business goes beyond just shopping-cart revenue. E-business involves a broader strategy that incorporates website ordering, EDI, punchout and email/fax order automation, along with an aligned team that is incentivized to drive revenue to these channels.
Most distributor inside salespeople are actually playing the roles of customer service reps and don’t have the skillset for a more proactive role. As a result, these distributors are losing out on significant bottom-line benefits and shareholder value.
Historically, suppliers have sold directly to a few of their largest customers. About 46% in the latest survey reported they are selling direct online only to existing markets and segments — not new ones.
Opportunity is high for B2B e-commerce, according to the eighth-annual MDM distribution e-commerce survey conducted with Real Results Marketing
Even multichannel by itself isn’t enough to keep up with customers’ changing shopping and buying preferences.
Traditionally focused on field sales, distributors have not historically been strong in marketing capabilities. But as customer demographics change, how distributors market has become increasingly critical to long-term survival. Because if distributors don’t keep pace with how customers want to shop and buy – which is largely electronic – they’ll lose ground against the competition.
What’s the difference between omnichannel and multichannel? The difference is subtle: Omnichannel is really an integrated version of multichannel. In other words, the customer’s experience is the same no matter how they interact with your business.