The Future of B2B E-Commerce: 3 Components for a Perfect Buying Experience

$1.1 Trillion,  that’s how big B2B e-commerce will be by 2020. This is a big opportunity for any company that sells to businesses.

Around, 93 percent of business buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy. By 2020, more than 80 percent of customers will manage their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

What’s driving this? We live in the Age of the Customer: the customer is now firmly in control. Starting with the internet and culminating with the smartphone, all the information  including pricing and availability  that buyers need to make highly informed choices and decisions are at their fingertips 24/7/365. If you’re not providing it, you can bet at least one of your competitors is.

By 2020, Millennials will form 50 percent of the global workforce and they expect a seamless omnichannel experience, with 87 percent using between two and three devices daily.

Customers overall expect brands and corporations to deliver a superior customer experience   not just post-sale, but throughout the buying journey and when you can solve every issue on the first touch  through beautifully crafted, on-demand experiences be they online, chat, or phone and only then do you earn the foundation of trust needed to expand the customer relationship and sell them more of your “B2B eCommerce-as-a-Service.”

Looking specifically at B2B e-commerce, great customer experience starts with a simple, elegant self-serve buying experience.

Self-serve buying

Business buyers are also in a way consumers and they too just like the others expect a consumer-friendly e-commerce buying experience at work for more complex products apart from digital goods and subscription-based products.

From researching online on their own to increasingly demanding to be able to place orders  with no hassle, self-serve buying is the need of the hour.

Potential benefits of delivering this self-serve experience include lower cost to serve, an average deal size, and increased sales efficiency. B2B businesses that deliver a great experience from beginning to end are winning in this very competitive environment.

Convenience

Convenience touches on the second component of great B2B e-commerce experience. There are a couple of buzzwords floating around out there on this one . Some call it omnichannel commerce or unified commerce.

Whatever you may call it, this is about anywhere, anytime, any channel, and any device with the customer having the supreme control as to what they choose how, when, and where to engage with you.

This applies to the self-serve research and self-serve buying mentioned earlier, as well as the ability to connect and communicate when they choose to.

So providing convenient access across various channels means tearing down the silos to online, mobile, live chat, post-sales support  and even your channel partners in an ideal world.

All customer touchpoints need to occur in an end-to-end view of the customer  and within the deployment capacity if you sell professional services in conjunction with your products.

Personalization

Customers are willing to give up a lot of information about themselves today provided you guarantee the privacy of their data.

If you are offer something of value through a brand or company’s website in return for all that information, they expect a smooth buying experience and highly tailored products or services meeting their business needs and goals as a business buyer.

In a business buying context, a customer may have already shared a lot of information with you while researching your company and solutions.

Buyers expect the salesperson to be informed and to have done their own research and preparation based on all the customer information already shared.

Don’t make your representative start all over with a hundred thousand solution selling questions as if this is the first time he is looking at their needs.

Putting it all together

At Docmation, we think about e-commerce in terms of helping customers drive business outcomes.

This means going beyond standardizing and automating the processes behind delivering a great experience to help businesses impact the behavior of their customers and sales teams and ultimately deliver business results in the form of optimized revenue, reduced costs.

As a foundation, this involves two key elements. Encouraging self-serve e-commerce experience for all types of goods and services you are selling and digitally enabling sales, legal, and revenue teams to streamline the processes.

When you combine these two things, you have the basis for delivering a convenient yet personalized experience to your business buyers.

Once you have the foundation of a great seamless experience from online self-serve e-commerce to digitally enabled sales, legal, and revenue teams, you are all set to start n optimize this experience to impact business outcomes.