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How Ecommerce is Changing the B2B Landscape
I’m tired of the word “pandemic” appearing in every article, aren’t you? But that’s where so many current business trends begin: perhaps not caused by the pandemic, but certainly accelerated by it. The online turn of B2B sales is one of many such trends. Consumers had been steadily embracing ecommerce for more types of purchases since before the pandemic, but B2B transactions remained a largely in-person affair, often conducted at trade shows. The pandemic left B2B businesses scrambling to strengthen their online sales infrastructure, and many buyers have come to prefer online ordering for its convenience. Today, four years after the pandemic began, it’s time to take the next step in jewelry industry technology and adopt a B2B ecommerce platform and mobile app.
B2B Transactions Are Moving Online
Like the landline telephone or the VCR, the checkbook has become a relic of a bygone era. Once the primary method of B2B payment, the check has fallen out of favor in the 21st century. Nacha, a trade association for the payments industry, reports that checks were used for 81% of B2B transactions in 2004. In 2013, that figure dropped to 50%, and today, only about one third of B2B organizations still use checks. They find that the trend of digitalization will continue, with a recent survey finding that 40% of businesses are very likely to convert the majority of B2B transactions to digital platforms.
It's not just transactions that are moving online. Vendor communication is moving from the telephone to the smartphone. This is more of a generational shift. By next year, Millennials will make up about 40% of the US workforce. They overwhelmingly prefer texting to talking on the phone in personal communication, and those preferences spill over into their professional lives, too. These workers will gravitate toward companies that offer the convenience of electronic communication.
For many B2B companies, a website is a placeholder or a vehicle for discovery. If a buyer wants to see a catalog, or wants a quote, the website might have a form to fill out or a phone number to call. If that’s all your B2B website is, you’re missing out on one of the main advantages of a website: instant information. Most B2B organizations have caught onto this fact of modern business. A McKinsey survey reveals that for the first time, “B2B sellers are now more likely to offer e-commerce channels than in-person selling.” The same survey finds that ecommerce and in-person sales both account for 18% of B2B sales, tied for first place ahead of email, online chat, video conference, and phone. B2B buyers are more comfortable than ever placing orders online. Make it easy for them with platforms like Shopify.
B2B Mobile Apps
As more B2B organizations adopt ecommerce platforms, jewelry industry suppliers can give themselves a further advantage with their own mobile app. Apps make sales and communication between supplier and retailer even easier. When your app is branded with your company’s logo and colors, you will further differentiate your services from your competitors and drive customer loyalty. They also make business easier for you, allowing you to handle memos and hold requests and vary inventory visibility and pricing.
Pay Equal Attention to Online and In-Person Sales Channels
Ecommerce and apps aren’t just for retail. A strong ecommerce presence that includes both web and app-based selling channels is vital to any omnichannel sales strategy. That’s not to say that well-trained, knowledgeable, personal salespeople who can do business face-to-face won’t be important in the future. The data shows that B2B organizations are making ecommerce and face-to-face sales equally. Succeeding as a jewelry industry supplier means offering the same great customer experience no matter the channel.