The landscape of B2B commerce is evolving rapidly, driven by technological advancements and changing customer expectations. For businesses operating in this sector, the move towards digital channels is no longer just an option but a necessity for sustained growth and competitiveness.
Embracing digital transformation allows businesses to unlock new growth opportunities, reach a wider audience and adapt to ever-changing market dynamics. This article explains why B2B businesses must shift their customers online, outlining the benefits and addressing the key challenges they might face during this transition.
Why Should B2B Businesses Migrate Customers Online?
In today's fast-paced commercial environment, B2B businesses are increasingly recognising the need to shift more of their operations online. This transition is not just a trend, but a strategic move to stay competitive and relevant. Here, we explore 10 reasons why B2B businesses must migrate more customers online.
1. Offering an Omnichannel Experience
According to global management consultants McKinsey, one of the most significant benefits of moving online is providing customers with an omnichannel experience. This approach combines in-person, remote, and 24/7 self-service options, catering to diverse customer preferences. For example, by providing the functionality to place orders and pay invoices via an online portal, buyers can continue to to trade with businesses outside of the normal, busy working day, providing maximum convenience.
2. Operational Efficiency and Cost Reduction
By transitioning to online platforms, B2B businesses can significantly streamline operations and reduce costs. This digital shift automates key processes, minimising manual errors and enhancing efficiency. Improved online product information and targeted recommendations lead to better purchasing decisions and lower return rates. This decrease in returns not only saves costs related to restocking and shipping but also boosts customer satisfaction, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective business model.
Research by TrustRadius reveals that a significant 87% of B2B buyers prefer to self-serve for at least a portion of their purchasing journey. Online platforms, such as Peracto, cater to this preference by empowering B2B businesses to offer self-service options. These eCommerce platforms enrich the buying experience with personalised features like tailored product recommendations, 24/7 access to order histories and payment processing, and automation of routine tasks. This approach substantially elevates the overall customer experience, aligning with the evolving needs of B2B buyers.
4. Improved Customer Support
Online channels enhance customer support capabilities. Chatbots, self-help resources and real-time communication tools ensure that customer queries are addressed promptly, enhancing overall customer satisfaction. According to McKinsey, the delivery of customer service online reduces call volumes and operating expenses by 25 to 30%.
5. Expanding Market Reach and Growth Opportunities
Going online enables B2B businesses to break geographical barriers, reach a wider audience and open up new markets, including internationally, reducing dependence on a local customer pool. With the B2B eCommerce sector expected to grow, on average, 18.7% each year, according to leading market research company Facts & Factors, this expansion is crucial for businesses to maximise growth in the coming years.
6. Scalability and Flexibility
Digital platforms, like Peracto, offer scalability that traditional methods cannot match. Businesses can easily adjust their operations based on market demands without significant investment in physical infrastructure. This flexibility is essential for rapid growth and adaptation to market changes.
7. Enhanced Customer Acquisition and Retention
57% of digital leaders report that digital channels will provide more than half of all revenue in 2024 according to research carried out by Salesforce. Online channels can attract new customers more efficiently and retain them through greater engagement, personalised experiences and improved service quality.
8. Insights into Buyer Behaviour
Online migration generates valuable data that can provide a deeper understanding of buyer behaviour. This data allows businesses to make informed decisions, fine-tune marketing strategies, and adapt their offerings to customer preferences.
9. Competitive Advantage
In an increasingly digital world, having a strong online presence gives B2B businesses a competitive edge. It positions them as forward-thinking and customer-centric, attributes highly valued in the modern marketplace.
10. Increased Revenue Streams
Migrating more buyers can open up new revenue streams. For instance, through eCommerce functionalities, businesses can offer products and services directly to customers, bypassing traditional distribution channels. B2B brands are increasingly adopting the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) model, which helps them find new customer segments and build loyalty with current customers.
What are the key factors to consider when migrating B2B buyers online?
Whilst the benefits of moving B2B buyers online are clear, it’s important to consider the following factors to ensure the transition is a success.
Integration with Existing Systems
Integrating with existing business systems, such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), can be complex. Partnering with eCommerce experts, like 9xb, helps ensure seamless data flow between systems, crucial for a successful migration and future growth.
Employees may resist digital transformation for various reasons, including fear of job displacement, lack of familiarity with new technologies or resistance to change. 9xb’s dedicated Success Team works with our clients to support the delivery of strategic change management to overcome this challenge, including a clear internal communication plan, comprehensive training and support, and incentives to motivate your team to embrace change.
Buyers may resist the move to eCommerce due to concerns about privacy, a preference for in-person interactions, or simply because they’re not familiar with the digital tools. 9xb’s Success Team can help clients to effectively educate their customers about the benefits of eCommerce through the planning and delivery of marketing communications, support and incentives to encourage customer adoption.
Technical Skills and Expertise
B2B businesses may lack the technical expertise or skills required for a successful online migration. Partnering with an expert eCommerce agency, like 9xb, provides B2B businesses with the technical know-how, customised solutions, risk management, resource and ongoing support necessary for a successful and efficient online migration.
Data migration can carry risks such as data loss, compatibility issues and security vulnerabilities. 9xb are experienced in migrating business data and can provide support to mitigate potential risks, including advice on planning, tools, data backup and recovery, testing and validation, and maintaining strong security measures throughout the process.
New Customer Behaviour
Migrating B2B buyers to online platforms requires a careful reassessment of customer behaviours and preferences, considering the evolving landscape of purchasing dynamics, interaction preferences, and market trends. 9xb can help businesses to address this, by carrying out research, personalising online experiences, optimising user experience (UX), collecting feedback, training in-house teams to adapt to digital interactions, and monitoring market trends and competitors.
Why choose 9xb?
9xb is a specialist B2B eCommerce agency, adept at designing, developing, optimising and supporting high-performing, scalable, and secure eCommerce stores using market leading eCommerce platforms such as Peracto, Shopify and BigCommerce.
With over 20 years experience, 9xb has significant experience in maximising the opportunities associated with digital migration, from managing employee and customer resistance, through complex web development and system integration, to providing ongoing technical support and hosting infrastructure.
Understanding that each business is unique, 9xb tailors its strategies to meet your specific needs, ensuring a seamless transition of buyers online and maximising the benefit from your investment.