Trending This Week: Can You Afford to Ignore B2B eCommerce?

It’s easy for some B2B companies to dismiss eCommerce. Here, we explain why even the least likely candidates may be ignoring B2B eCommerce at their own peril.

February 17, 2017

  • A Businessman Frantically Pushes a Shopping Cart

Forrester estimates that by 2020, B2B eCommerce will account for 12.1% of all B2B sales in the US. That adds up to more than a trillion dollars in B2B transactions performed online.

It’s easy for many B2B organizations to dismiss eCommerce. As you read this, you might be thinking, “Our buying cycle is long and complicated. How could anyone buy a complex solution like ours via an online shopping cart? We’re not selling medical equipment here. We’re selling [insert your solution].”

For the most part you’re right. Some B2B organizations are a more natural fit for eCommerce than others. And many of these more natural fits have been tackling eCommerce for years. But even if you never see someone buying your solution online, you still may be dismissing eCommerce too quickly.

It’s Not Just About THE Sale

If your company is like most, you have a cash cow product or service – you know, that expensive one with the long sales cycle – but it’s not the only thing you sell. You have complementary offerings, add-ons, repeat purchases, etc.

In other words, there are myriad ways prospects and customers deal with your company pre- and post-sale.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

·        Compared to your competition, how easy is it to work with your company before, during, and after the sale?

·        Is it reasonable to expect that a competitor could improve the online buying experience in the next few years, thereby shifting market sentiment in their favor?

If either of these questions caused the slightest bit of tension, it’s a good sign that your company can’t afford to ignore eCommerce. Even if you firmly believe that no one will ever buy your cash cow solution via shopping cart.

How Can You Improve Your Prospect’s Buying Experience?

So maybe you don’t need a shopping cart on your company website. That doesn’t discount the fact that, if they could, most of your customers would love to research, evaluate, and actually purchase your solution online.

In fact, 74% of B2B buyers research half or more of their work purchases online. Coincidentally, that’s the exact same percentage who said buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales rep. And 93% of B2B buyers prefer to buy online once they’ve made their decision.

Given B2B buyers’ inclination to perform the buying process on their own, it’s reasonable to think that the first companies to offer user-friendly price optimization algorithms or configure, price, quote (CPQ) tools stand to win more customers. Sure, these examples may not be your standard definition of eCommerce, but they do enhance the online research and evaluation process, and that’s the point. Think about it this way: In what ways are you asking your sales team to work against the grain of modern B2B buyers’ preferences?

B2B Buyers Seek Value in More Ways Than One

Salesforce’s 2016 State of Sales report revealed that meeting customer expectations is the top challenge for sales teams, with the number one reason being “customer needs have grown more sophisticated.” Today’s B2B buyers aren’t just seeking value in the end solution. They’re seeking value in their experience with the solution provider.

The online preference trend among B2B buyers shows no signs of slowing. So even if you can safely ignore the online checkout aspect of B2B eCommerce, it’s getting harder to justify any sales initiative that runs counter to a more accessible, more convenient B2B shopping experience.

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