B2B commerce is exploding. B2B marketplace sales increased 131% to $56.5 billion in 2021, and are expected to increase to $130 billion at the same pace in 2022. Manufacturer direct-selling to B2B businesses through e-commerce will grow from $656 billion in 2022 to over $1.0 trillion by 2027. General interest in B2B commerce has increased two-fold in the past half decade alone.

While exciting, growth brings new challenges for legacy businesses. Younger buyers are getting into the space with expectations set high by the major shift to ecommerce brought on by the pandemic. Additionally, competition is heating up with titans like Amazon getting into the B2B space. According to a B2B digital commerce survey from platform vendor Kibo, 75% of manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers who do not currently operate an e-commerce site plan to launch one within two years. Brands need to differentiate themselves in meaningful ways online in order to stay relevant and competitive.

However, making the move to digital is the bare minimum for B2B. More importantly, how a B2B brand goes digital is critical to success. Here are three strategies brands can use to maximize the impact of their digital B2B commerce experience.

Take advantage of cost optimization

Online order processing creates new opportunities for optimization that don’t exist in the manual days of the fax machineDigital order automation bypasses common procedural errors that methods like email chains, phone calls, and fax machines are prone to. Without the need for transcription, orders can flow directly into order management systems for processing resulting in a significant reduction in overall cost of service.

Digital channels also provide more transparency. Order status and delivery times can be communicated more efficiently to accurately manage buyer expectations. Similarly, pricing accuracy for the buyer is more precise as B2B digital commerce sites frequently integrate with ERP systems to pull contract-specific pricing for each buying organization. This streamlining minimizes discrepancies that can happen between buyers and sales reps, like misquotes on pricing that result from human error.

All of this can simplify reordering and create shorter sales cycles, saving costs and allowing the B2B brands to focus less on technicalities of orders and more on connecting with their customers.

Grow revenue with digital channels

Digital commerce is a significant opportunity for revenue growth in the B2B world. The digital environment allows companies to reach new buyers in new locations, and enables existing customers to easily increase order sizes and spend. In other words, it becomes easier for everything to scale up–including order value and service offerings.

In some cases, digital channels can be used to support subscription models, powered by predictive and prescriptive analytics. With existing buyers being largely serviced in this method, sellers can be freed up to engage new accounts and continue growth.

Use the digital experience to foster loyalty

B2B commerce in the digital environment offers more than just efficiency and growth–it can fuel brand loyalty. Crafting a digital experience is a chance to make a buyer feel understood and catered to. B2B brands can capture buyer signals to get a better understanding of their customers’ intent and goals, and tailor their digital experience accordingly. This can be further supplemented by utilizing the potential of digital channels including SMS messaging, live chat, and chatbots to quickly answer customer questions or address support tickets.

Personalization powered by customer behavior also decreases the time it takes for a buyer to find what they need. Results can be iterated to make the entire buying experience smoother as time goes on. Even the most complex orders from highly specific buyers can be handled with ease once the digital platform is able to anticipate the buyer’s needs.

This all adds up to making buyers’ lives easier. Customer loyalty is built on this kind convenience and sense of being understood. B2B brands that want loyal buyers should prioritize the optimization and streamlining that benefits the most important part of their business–the customers.

B2B commerce’s biggest challenge as an emerging digital market is creating the impactful experiences that digital-native buyers expect. As more players enter the space, quality and innovation is what gets brands to stand out from the crowd. At Lucidworks, we’re extremely passionate about creating personalized, meaningful digital commerce experiences that makes life easier for sellers and leaves a lasting impression on buyers.

Interested in how we can support your B2B brand’s digital experience? Get in touch today.

About Dev Bhat

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