Today, eCommerce companies prioritize suggesting products which existing consumers want or need through the different eCommerce tools available for marketing and branding. Basically, they can upsell through digital content. This particular tactic has helped them stand out as compared to traditional distributors. Even so, when it comes to traditional sales situations, distributors are masters at basically anticipating the needs of the clients and upskill their services as well as products.
eCommerce In Distribution
In a research conducted by CEB Marketing Leadership Council in partnership with Google, the survey revealed something to the tune of the average customer completing over one half of the purchase decision-making process before even coming in contact with the sales rep. When it comes to the upper limit, the number ran as high as 70%. Here is a rough insight into the growth of eCommerce in the past few years:
- 57%—Basically, this is what an average B2B buyer researches before a purchase decision is made.
- 12%—that’s how much of your customer’s total mindshare of you as a supplier have across the entire B2B purchase path.
Distributors who do not have an eCommerce platform face competition from
- Traditional competitors have an omnichannel and multi-channel presence.
- Marketplaces such as Amazon Business, Alibaba or thomasnet.com
Distributors Need To Take Bold Action
- Manufacturers are clearly and aggressively embracing the e-commerce channel.
- Manufacturers clearly see the need for e-commerce and are advancing toward growth and maturity. This e-commerce offensive by manufacturers could be a disruptive change for distribution.
- Distribution respondents lag manufacturers respondents in the maturity of their e-commerce journey. They are shifting their journey from nascent to more mature stages, but are doing so at a slower pace than manufacturers.
- The differences in manufacturer and distributor respondents point to a bold action needed by the distributors.
- Distributors that are not aggressively embracing e-commerce face a quandary; get on board quickly or manufacturers may go around them.
- Manufacturers indicated that a key factor when adding new distributors is evaluating how robust is the distributor’s e-commerce channel.
- The intimation is that manufacturers know the path to more sales resides in offering products in multiple channels, with e-commerce driving the change and intend to succeed with e-commerce.
- Manufacturers added clarity to this idea; they don’t have time to nurture distributors without solid e-commerce options and will more aggressively secure and support distributors that do offer a strong e-commerce channel.
B2B Buyer Behavior
- For B2B buyers, word of mouth and web searches are the best ways of finding info.
- Twenty-something B2B buyers are TWICE as likely to use social media as 31-40-year-olds.
- B2B buyers tend to get most whitepapers and blogs through Google, but get to know about seminars by email.
- 21% of B2B buyers use social media at some point in the buying process.
- 22% of buyers are ready to move to a new distributor (supplier) that could provide a better eCommerce experience.
- B2B buyers are far more likely to use LinkedIn for conversation than for just finding articles. This is less true of Twitter.
- B2B buyers see Twitter as more useful at the later stages of the buying process.
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Data flow and integration:
eCommerce distribution one of the primary factors that most distributors pass by is prioritizing the flow of data. If you can achieve clean and effective data, then you surely can use it in many different ways- ranging from digital upselling to personalizing the content to email marketing. If you cannot, then it is tough to keep up with the eCommerce space. Amazon has everything strategized- CRM, warehouse, inventory, shipping, and much more.
On the other hand, distributors have a part of the data management process set up, but a lot of times- we find that data isn’t unifying with digital marketing or customer service efforts. Integrate all the data so that it can save time, headaches, and money, but it will surely create a long-lasting relationship with your consumers. Ensure implementing strategies like- your CRM having the technical capability to talk with your marketing automation platform. These things will surely up your capability in the eCommerce space.
Why Distributors Must Go Online NOW!!!
As we wrap up the article, we also wish for you to know about something known as the endless aisle strategy. Endless aisle refers to the concept of enabling customers in your stores to virtually browse or order a wide range of products that are either out of stock or not sold in-store and have them shipped to the store or their home. When talking to distributors in the CONNECT conference, it was clear that some of them had frustrating experiences while implementing/using their ERP and/or eCommerce solutions. Today there are many popular eCommerce platforms, like Magento, that offer native B2B features. B2B eCommerce has recently been launched by our partner- BigCommerce too. Seamless integration with P21 is also possible with platforms like Magento. Plugins are also available that extend the functionalities of Magento. Let us know if you would like to see a demo of Magento B2B or if you need to integrate Magento with P21, we will be more than happy to help you. Watch out for this space for more articles on eCommerce in Distribution.