There is no big commerce without experience
When digital is the only way for B2Bs, e-commerce won't help much without experience.
As the Covid crisis spikes again and digital is the only option forward for the foreseeable future, B2B companies are now tempted to go full speed launching e-commerce projects as quickly as possible as their physical and analogue distribution channels dry up.
Avoid the trap of focusing on your e-shop when your B2B sales strategy needs much more
They should be wary of not pigeonholing their digital initiatives into a dead-end. We’ve seen this too many times, and it is probably the main reason why so many B2B digital transformation initiatives fail.
“McKinsey research shows that 70% of Digitalization and Transformation programs fail”
Pure e-commerce covers only a fraction of your customer lifecycle
Traditionally, e-commerce technology has developed ways for customers to shop online, and for vendors to sell online. It's crucial to recognize that digitalizing your sales strategy starts way before customers are ready to add products to their purchase order or shopping basket on your website, and continues way after they hit the "purchase" button.
But, focusing solely on the purchase stage of the customer lifecycle can become a problem. You end up neglecting to build a strong demand and a steady flow of prospects reaching your digital stores, which is what branding and content marketing can help achieve. It will also lose sight of anything happening post-purchase, which is vital in creating a good customer experience fuelling loyalty, upsell and customer advocacy.
The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.
Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.Sign up
Furthermore, you will miss out on differentiating from others, especially from leading B2B marketplaces such as Amazon Business. With only an e-shop there’s little chance for you to build an edge over your competition as you’ll lack the means to create memorable experiences.
At the early stage, to fuel the demand and the traffic to your digital channel, you need to develop your brand and exist in the open and wide digital world where prospects are researching solutions.
79% of B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision according to the 2019 B2B Buyer Report.
Later on, it is all about building loyalty and delivering outstanding experiences that will simplify the life of your customer: self-service options, subscriptions to repeat purchases in an automated way, support, customer service, etc.
Customers have more and more options where to shop and have elevated demands. Disjointed experiences after purchase cost millions and can lose your customers to the competition.
Complex product requires more than a simple "add-to-cart and check-out" interaction
While some B2B companies are certainly selling products in a way that is somewhat similar to consumer e-commerce, with simple products and relatively simple buyer journeys, many face a more complex challenge. They sell complex products that might require heavy personalization (be it on pricing, on purchase terms, on volume, on supply chain).
Rushing to go live with an e-commerce storefront that would have to take shortcuts in these essential aspects of a complex sales scenario would equally lead to a failure in digitalizing the sales strategy.
Three risks of going for a quick (-and-dirty) simple e-commerce presence for your B2B sales digitalization:
After the initial success of an e-shop launch, your brand new digital sales channel will not see the traffic you hoped for and sales will plateau or, worse, erode.
Customers will be disappointed by their experience and will not stick with your brand, as your competition provides more on the experience front.
You'll build a technical debt that will create barriers when moving to digitalize your organization further, developing more advanced self-service customer portals.
Instead of giving up on digital commerce, which is no longer an option, we’d like to share the following advice:
At all times, you need to be obsessed by the customer. Your customers just have to be first and foremost in everything you do. You need to integrate all aspects of customer experience: awareness, acquisition, product experience, customer service, retention... and make sure all of them are aligned and working in concert.
For that, you need the culture, the organization and the technology platform that will enable your team to turn this customer obsession into real customer digital experiences.
For this very reason that we built Ibexa Commerce not only offering the typical features of B2B e-commerce, it also includes a full digital experience feature set that will enable you to do so much more than simply building an e-shop.
Ibexa Commerce is not a one-to-one replacement to other e-commerce solutions such as Shopify, Magento or Woo-commerce that might let you to go live quickly with a shopping cart and product catalog, but that falls short in the many other areas mentioned above. Ibexa is a full Digital Experience Platform (DXP) complemented by specific e-commerce capabilities that enables you to entirely digitalize your sales strategy, encompassing all phases of your customer lifecycle.
And because it’s agile, modular and designed for innovation, it will still let you accelerate your digitalization time-to-market.
As the second wave of the Pandemic hits us, make time to consider and develop a strong digital transformation plan that will not downplay or contradict your sales and marketing strategy or your product.
Content by The Drum Network member:
Ibexa helps B2B companies to stay relevant and succeed by transforming traditional sales strategies into frictionless buying experiencesFind out more