Online B2B sales are growing rapidly. Why do some online stores fail to attract customers? And why don't online sales grow in proportion to company revenue?
Professional buyers do most of their research online. Many prefer to reorder products online themselves. If you don’t see this happening in your online B2B store, you might be able to remedy the situation with some minor changes. However, perhaps you have missed a bigger issue: properly planning your ecommerce strategy.
In order to create growth, B2B ecommerce must link to your business at every level. Also, you must address two crucial issues: your customers and changes needed in your organisation.
Start strategy planning from customers
Clearly define your target audience for your B2B ecommerce site. This basic rule isn’t always obvious in a completed online store. Please note: developing services not considering customer’s needs is destined to fail.
Who is your target audience for your online store? How do you intend to get them to use it? Are you going to use your ecommerce site solely to find new customers? Or would you like your current offline customers to adapt and place their orders online?
- If you are going for the latter, remember that your current customers must feel they really benefit from the transition to your online channel. A great online store makes buying easier. In B2B ecommerce, you must know your customer’s business, offer appropriate products and provide relevant search results for keywords they use.
- Even online, finding new customers is a lot harder than having current customers buy more. To attract new customers, you must first provide enough information about your company and products. Next, you must help them find their way to your online store. Then you have to give them good incentives to remain online and complete their purchase process with you.
In the best case, both customer groups are happy with your online store. In the worst case, an unclear understanding of customers can lead to bad customer experiences if your current customers feel your online store wasn't designed for them and new customers can't find your store.
Move on to making changes in your organisation
Moving the purchase process online calls for big changes in your organisation. Creating a strategy for onboarding employees is crucial. Every employee should believe the online store brings advantages. They should also encourage customers to place their orders online.
The people in your organisation must adopt a new view of product data and data transparency. That's a big change. Previously, marketing, sales, purchasing and logistics departments kept their data to themselves. Now, customers demand a complete view of that data when making purchases online. All these departments must now collaborate a lot more. If even one person in your organisation thinks ‘it's only a website’, the transition is still in progress.
B2B ecommerce can grow your business only if you have correctly prepared your strategy and you succeed in engaging both your customers and employees. Remember to consider these two things: who is your online store’s target audience and how your company must change.