B2B Omnichannel: why is it important in e-Commerce?

10.09.2020 Angelika Siczek
b2b omnichannel metaphor mini basket next to a laptop

What distinguishes you from the competition the most? It does not necessarily have to be a unique product. What must be unique is the customer experience that you offer. So whether you are a manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler or retailer, it is the positive online experience that translates into the profitability of your business. A customer-oriented approach is particularly important in the B2B sector. Because most often such transactions and meetings must take place precisely where and when the clients wants them to. Here comes the B2B omnichannel approach. 

Why is comprehensive customer service important in the B2B industry?

B2B industries have many faces. Not every company-company transaction takes place between a store and a wholesaler, or between two corporations. Sometimes the path leading from the producer to the buyer is more complicated. Sometimes there are more than just one connection between them. This is true, especially in e-Commerce, a place where the right B2B omnichannel approach is mandatory.The history of the agricultural industry is proof of this.

Imagine a farmer working on his summer harvest. It turns out that one of the parts of the tractor he uses is broken. Without thinking for a long time, the farmer takes out his smartphone and looks for parts on the website of a nearby store. To make sure he found the right part, he reviews his purchase history and checks the exact model number of his tractor. Once he finds it and is sure it’s the right part, he decides to buy it and pick it up at a local store. He completes transactions quickly thanks to online payments. Then he drives to the store, where the goods are waiting for him at the checkout. With the new part, he quickly returns to the farm to complete the work. On the spot, it turns out that the assembly is quite complicated and the farmer does not know how to do it. Fortunately, there is an instructional video on the product page, thanks to which he installs the element in the machine and continues the work that has been started. He leaves a positive comment on the store’s website and will certainly come back soon if he needs anything.

Omnichannel – multitude of POCs

The above story is a perfect example of the omnichannel approach in B2B. It contains many channels that the potential customer uses. And so, in case of the farmer, he is using all the channel provided.  Starting with search for a product using a smartphone, online shopping, making e-payments and then collecting the product in the store.

However, there is one more part of the transaction that you cannot see in this example at first glance. It may have turned out that the ordered product was not available in a stationary store at all. In that case, the customer would be deeply disappointed. The goods may have been shipped to the store from the local producer’s warehouse. The farmer’s original order for a tractor part was placed by a sales representative in the store’s CRM/ERP system, which is linked to the wholesaler’s website. All this to make it easier for customers to view orders regardless of the channel. After all, everyone expects their order to be fulfilled without any problems.

B2B omnichannel business specification

When working with B2B organizations that are just taking their first steps in e-Commerce and the use of omnichannel, the most common question is how to ensure the profitability of the sales team? First of all, it should be emphasized that the new digital technology does not mean replacing sales representatives with technology, but only supports their work. Its goal is not to eliminate the human factor, but to increase work efficiency and offer the possibility of a better focus than before on selling products with a higher margin and requiring higher risk than other products.

Nowadays, most customers, both B2B and B2C, often start searching for products online. It is a great help for sales representatives because they save time until a potential customer shows interest in an interview or other type of pre-sale consultation.

Importance of online experience for customers and the sales team

The idea behind today’s online commerce is to offer customers additional experiences and information beyond what a sales representative can offer. Therefore, it is important that, thanks to the modern digital technologies, it is possible for potential buyers to, for example, compare different product models, learn about their detailed specification and application, and other elements important in the industry that you are working in. Remember also to show them the most important issues – focus on extensive content, videos and infographics. Also consider user-generated content – questions, answers, opinions and reviews. The more you show them, the more trusting new recipients you gain and the greater the image of an expert in the industry you will gain.

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