The Consumerisation of Online B2B Sales

It’s 2017: that means that we’re just three years away from 2020, the year Forrester Research predicted that business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce sales would top £ 900 billion. Strong revenue growth isn’t the only thing that’s changing for online professional sales, though. If you’re currently or planning to sell to professional buyers online, you simply cannot afford to ignore the increasing consumerisation of B2B web stores.

The influence of Amazon

There are clear differences between web stores created with consumers in mind, and online sales portals focused on providing the best possible service for professional buyers, which we will discuss later on in the article.

What’s more important is what these two types of web store have in common: user expectations.

All professional buyers are consumers when they’re off the clock, and most of them are used to using business-to-consumer (B2C) web stores. In fact, research indicates that 77% of UK internet users purchased something online in 2015.

With web stores becoming more and more ubiquitous, major e-commerce players like Amazon are actively shaping expectations users have of online buying experiences – including the one your B2B company offers, or plans to offer in the future.

The Differences Between B2B and B2C Web Stores

This consumerisation trend is raising an already high bar for B2B web stores. This is because B2B online sales portals have to meet the many additional wishes and requirements professional buyers have compared to consumers.

These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Quick access to orders and order history
  • The ability to re-order from past orders
  • Customer-specific pricing and catalogs
  • Smart sales tax and freight method calculation

A key concept underpins these requirements: personalisation.

Why Web Store Personalisation Is Essential for B2B

The nature of the relationship between you and your client means that personalisation not only helps you deliver a pleasant online buying experience: it is essential for efficient and accurate order placement. Without personalisation, you cannot let your clients benefit from customer-specific pricing, or provide accurate VAT or shipping fees.

Unless you are able to offer this level of personalisation, you cannot provide the convenience that your clients have come to expect from ordering online – and without that, your clients have no reason not to simply call their trusted contact at your sales department and place their order the old-fashioned way.

How to Personalise Your Web Store

If you are familiar with our e-commerce solution or even regularly read our blog posts, our advice on how to best get started with web store personalisation probably won’t come as a surprise.

>> ERP integration

Order details, client data, tax and shipping calculations – this and much more is stored in your ERP system. Taking a single-stack approach to e-commerce lets you make smart and efficient use of this treasure trove of information, without having to set up unnecessarily complex IT systems.

Examples of Web Store Personalisation

  • Targeted Email Marketing

Email marketing done right offers an incredible ROI. Instead of taking a spray-and-pray approach, divide your clients into groups with shared characteristics. This lets you send emails with more specific content that is much more likely to result in clicks and conversions.

  • Personalised Web Store Content

You can also go a step further and personalise the content of your web store itself. This could be anything from displaying only relevant menu items or even custom promotional banners, ensuring that you show your clients the information that is relevant to their needs or interests.

  • Predictive Ordering

This is especially interesting for businesses with clients that order (almost) exclusively from them. With such a detailed picture of the client’s buying habits, you can use this data to compile suggested orders based on historical order data.

Learn More About Web Store Personalisation

There are many ways that custom content and personalised marketing can improve the bottom line of your B2B organization. To learn more about why personalisation works and how your company’s marketing can benefit, download the white paper Why Is Personalised Marketing Beneficial for Your B2B Business?

This post was originally published at ERP Software Blog.

Simon Bruynsteen

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