The Business to Business (B2B) engagement landscape has encountered countless milestones over the years. With the evolution of technology and our ever-swifter propulsion into a digital-first era, bringing with it an astounding array of changes, B2B engagement has adapted to ensure that businesses in the sector can continue to serve their customers and clients efficiently and effectively.
The rate at which the world has evolved in a digital sense has rapidly increased over recent years, particularly in response to extreme situations such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s not just these scenarios that have spurred the evolution and growth of digital priorities. The timeline of changes leading up to the present day have all presented countless opportunities for B2B organisations to grow their brand, enhance their services, and to trade and serve in new and exciting ways.
What has encouraged so many of the recent changes?
Aside from the problems that the pandemic brought to businesses in almost every industry, a large quantity of changes have arisen from the significant changes in customer and client expectations. Of course, some of these expectations can be attributed to certain situations, but as a whole, the population has adapted to technological advancements which have altered how we live our daily lives. This has had a profound impact on the way businesses in both B2B and B2C sectors have become expected to operate.
But it’s not simply a matter of tailoring operations to customer and client expectations. This shift has also happened due to the incredible value of digital solutions. Not only do they enable businesses to serve buyers more effectively (and meet those all-important expectations), but they allow a business to operate with greatly improved efficiency. For example, a fully integrated digital system allows a supplier to maintain a streamlined workflow across every element of their business – from warehouse, facilities and HR, to marketing, procurement, shipping and more – and it can all be handled with precision and simplicity from a robust central system.
The B2B sector has seen the value in the move to digital
Referring back to those original comments regarding modern buyer expectations, the statistics surrounding buyer behaviour in the present-day weigh significantly on the side of digital and online trading. Part of typical customer buying patterns (particularly when it comes to purchasing new or different products, and especially from a different supplier or wholesaler) involves a significant amount of research on the customer’s part. According to Adobe’s research surrounding digital business trends:
· Typically, a whopping 85% of the people carrying out this research use social media, vendor websites and search engines to do so. That’s a huge percentage of buyers that covers both the B2B and B2C customer base, so it makes sense to capitalise on this usage by providing the resources they want within the mediums they use.
· 43% of buyers also want to purchase directly from manufacturers. This is incredibly important for the businesses behind the products themselves, and providing a reliable and effective space for buyers to do this is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. It also becomes more significant when you consider that 20% are actually willing to pay slightly more in order to be able to do this. A digital storefront is the ideal solution that would enable customers to engage, connect and transact with manufacturers.
How have B2B organisations responded to modern expectations?
We talked about the value of digital to B2B organisations earlier, and it’s safe to say that the sector has developed a strong recognition of that value. According to the 2018 B2BecNews survey, a whopping 75% of the participants who didn’t utilise a digital storefront at the time were planning to implement and launch ecommerce sites within two years. This was well before the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about its own unique challenges and caused an even more dramatic increase in the demand for digital services in every sector.
The digital transformation of B2B organisations has had a profound impact on the sales, revenue and performance of these businesses. Research carried out by McKinsey & Company showed that B2B companies that have embraced digital platforms have seen an 8% increase in shareholder returns as well as five times more growth in revenue compared to those who don’t. The stats are staggering, and they reinforce the value of the digital era for B2B organisations in almost every industry.
With this transformation, the acceptance of different B2B payment arenas has risen. Website, email and phone orders are the three proportionally largest accepted payment gateways currently in use, drastically surpassing traditional methods such as fax (of which 23% of B2B organisations with an ecommerce channel still accept). B2B is rapidly catching up to B2C in the ecommerce world, with many organisations even delving into mobile apps and marketplaces, creating intuitive omnichannel sales platforms to accommodate the evolving needs of modern audiences. But aside from this, what else does the modern audience want? ShowPad’s “The New B2B Buyer Experience” research shows that:
· 45% of customers are looking for portal content that is personalised specifically to them and their needs
· 33% of customers believe they should have access to video chat options for support and sales
· 44% feel that an ROI calculator would be extremely beneficial to their purchasing experience
These are just a small handful of the functionality that a large quantity of B2B clients and customers are growing to desire and even expect from the organisations they deal with. With an integrated digital platform, implementing these kinds of features is significantly more straightforward than trying to manually provide clients with the same services over the phone for example, and they could be the key to substantial growth and an increase in sales, trust and loyalty. FinancesOnline have also put together a 2020/2021 B2B Market Share Analysis that demonstrates the demand for integrated digital functionality for B2B enterprises:
· As of 2021, 61% of B2B transactions start online
· A third of B2B buyers have developed an increase in their expectations of the customer experience
· There are five key elements that are regarded as the most important factors for B2B customers –
o 73% evaluate features and functionality
o 72% evaluate pricing
o 59% evaluate reviews
o 56% evaluate deployment time or ease of use
o 46% evaluate an organisation’s ability to solve a pain point
Again, this is just a small selection of the data from the analysis, but these factors alone show a significant emphasis on the need for digital solutions and experiences for B2B organisations and their customers.
Are you interested in enhanced digital experiences for your customers?
The value of digital is evident in our everyday lives, and the evolution of B2B sales has been influenced significantly by it. If you’ve considered either a transformation to a digital-first platform, or enhancing the functionality, efficiency and performance of your existing platform with a fully integrated bespoke solution, we can help. Contact us today to find out how our solutions can drive sales and growth for your business.