i-Report B2B E-COMMERCE: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive Presented by: Sponsored by: B2B E-Commerce: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive Page: 2 i-Report If you don’t believe the trend towards B2B e-commerce is for real, consider a recent Forrester Research report showed U.S. manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors sold $780 billion to other companies via the web in 2015. That’s more than twice the $304.9 billion in retail sales that the Department of Commerce reported in 2014. Forrester suggests that B2B e-commerce is on pace to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.7 percent, hitting $1.13 trillion in 2020. E-Commerce has changed the consumer market in ways we never would have expected. Today, the shift towards online, 24/7 purchasing is having the same effect on the B2B market. Distributors that aren’t offering a modern online purchasing experience are being left behind. With big players like Amazon Business now driving user expectations, today’s distributors are, by necessity, being forced to give their customers the ability to view, order and purchase products anytime, anywhere. In this educational iReport, we’ll examine a few aspects of e-commerce that simply cannot be overlooked. 1) Mobility Is No Longer a Luxury Everyone has a mobile device, if not several. From tablets to smartphones, Android to iOS, mobile devices come in many difference sizes, shapes, and operating systems. Distributors need to ensure their chosen e-commerce solution translates seamlessly to whatever device a customer happens to be using. The interface must be simple, clean and complete. But that’s not all. “Distributors also must ensure there is consistency across its e-commerce presence to take into account customers who may begin the purchase process on one type of device but who may end up completing that purchase on a different kind of device,” wrote Ranga Bodla, Head of Industry Marketing at NetSuite, in a recent post on Industrial Distribution’s website. EVERYONE HAS A MOBILE DEVICE, IF NOT SEVERAL. FROM TABLETS TO SMARTPHONES, ANDROID TO IOS, MOBILE DEVICES COME IN MANY DIFFERENCE SIZES, SHAPES, AND OPERATING SYSTEMS. B2B E-Commerce: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive Page: 3 i-Report What Bodla says is accurate, as B2B customers now expect the same ease-of-use as consumers do. To that point, a 2016 survey by Baymard showed that fully 27 percent of consumer e-commerce cart abandonments happened during checkout due to “too long/complicated checkout process.” “Business-to-business (B2B) customers increasingly are looking for the same ecommerce experience already on offer in the business-to-consumer (B2C) world, an easy-to-use website, which is fairly sophisticated,” Bodla wrote. 2) Put It In the Cloud There is wisdom in hosting your e-commerce platform in the cloud. According to an article posted to Forbes’ website, Forrester research shows that 56 percent of B2B Buyers expect to make half or more of their work purchases online by 2017. That means tremendous growth in a very short time and that distributors will need a platform with the kind of elasticity that only the cloud can offer. In another article posted on Forbes’ website, cloud computing contributing expert Louis Columbus writes that cloud-based B2B e-commerce platforms can deliver experiences on par with what Amazon offers. “Cloud-based B2B e-Commerce platforms have the potential to deliver omnichannel performance and online experiences close to Amazon across every device and channel, yet few are investing enough in personnel and expertise to get to this level of performance,” Columbus writes. “This factor is so significant that Gartner predicts that by 2018, 70 percent of e-Commerce will move from B2C and B2B models to models that focus on the individual customer experience.” “CLOUD-BASED B2B E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO DELIVER OMNICHANNEL PERFORMANCE AND ONLINE EXPERIENC- ES CLOSE TO AMAZON ACROSS EVERY DEVICE AND CHANNEL, YET FEW ARE INVESTING ENOUGH IN PERSONNEL AND EXPERTISE TO GET TO THIS LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE.” B2B E-Commerce: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive Page: 4 i-Report 3) Foster Customer Familiarity, Don’t Neglect The Data A report from Oliver Wyman and the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors notes the wealth of customer data that e-commerce produces and that can be leveraged. “An e-commerce platform allows you to see every mouse click, every product customers look at, how they are searching, and how much time they are spending on your site,” states the report. “It also opens up many more avenues on how you can engage and target customers with massively lower cost. It lets you experiment and try out new things, such as targeted offers to specific customers for alternative products from what they buy today or products you think they might need based on their current purchases or purchases of other customers like them.” If a distributor knows how to use it, all that data can help create a truly personalized e-commerce experience that will improve customer satis- faction and increase sticki- ness. Such features include: • Predictive product recommendations • Abandoned cart notifications • Live customer service chat prompts • Transactional emails • Loyalty programs • Wish lists B2B E-Commerce: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive Page: 5 i-Report The Opportunity is Real, Adoption Incomplete Industrial Distribution’s “2016 Survey of Distributor Operations” found that 56 percent of respondents said their company offers e-commerce, and of that, more than 24 percent said that online sales are responsible for at least 11 percent of overall revenue. It’s easy to see that the roughly 44 percent of respondents who said they don’t have an e-commerce solution in place are missing out when one considers that 68 percent of respondents said they expect their 2016 online sales to increase over 2015. Bodla of NetSuite wrote in his post on Industrial Distribution’s website that distributors’ business models are being significantly impacted by the recent rapid growth and adoption of e-commerce. “Customers are becoming increasingly comfortable with buying products online so much so that the type and volume of products they are unwilling to purchase via the Internet continues to shrink daily,” Bodla wrote. “Distributors are having to quickly develop an e-commerce presence or risk losing potential business and customers.” Bodla went on to note how important it is that distributors think through their implementation of an e-commerce solution and ensure that what they’re offering customers is on par or better than what their competitors are offering. “When buying from distributors, customers anticipate a seamless purchasing experience and to be alerted if there are any supply chain issues,” Bodla wrote. “In order to deliver on customer expectations, distributors need to work even more collaboratively than previously with manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers so that everyone involved in the supply chain shares and has access to real-time customer and product information including inventory.” 56% OF SURVEY RESPONDENTS SAID THEIR COMPANY OFFERS E-COMMERCE, AND OF THAT, MORE THAN 24% SAID THAT ONLINE SALES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR AT LEAST 11% OF OVERALL REVENUE. IT’S EASY TO SEE THAT THE ROUGHLY 44% OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY DON’T HAVE AN E-COMMERCE SOLUTION IN PLACE ARE MISSING OUT WHEN ONE CONSIDERS THAT 68% OF RESPONDENTS SAID THEY EXPECT THEIR 2016 ONLINE SALES TO INCREASE OVER 2015. B2B E-Commerce: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive Page: 6 i-Report i-Report: Advantage Business i-Reports present fresh research and analysis on compelling and timely industry topics. “B2B E-Commerce: Doing It Right To Remain Competitive” was prepared by Advantage Business Media Manufacturing Group Editorial Director Andrew Berg. About the Author Andrew Berg is the Editorial Director of Advantage Business Media’s Manufacturing Group. Previously, he was the Executive Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine. About NetSuite NetSuite is the world’s leading provider of cloud-based business management software. NetSuite helps companies manage core business processes with a single, fully integrated system covering ERP/financials, CRM, ecommerce, inventory and more. About Advantage Business Media Advantage Business Media (www.advantagemedia.com) is a data-driven marketing solutions company leveraging content, technology, and business intelligence to match its audience’s job performance needs with its clients’ solutions. With a diversified portfolio of highly focused websites, e-newsletters, print publications, specialized directories, vertical search databases, conferences, ancillary media vehicles, and associated web-based services, ABM serves more than one million industry professionals in the manufacturing, science, and design engineering markets. For more information visit www.advantagemedia.com.