10 Industrial B2B eCommerce 2019 Updates

10 Industrial B2B eCommerce 2019 UpdatesPhoto by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Our last post talked about the changes in buyer behavior making sales and marketing alignment imperative. This post shares other results of changes in buyer behavior, 10 updates on industrial B2B eCommerce from many sources. Enjoy!.

1. Most B2B Buyers Now Prefer eCommerce over Sales Reps

B2B buyers prefer eCommerce over sales repsTwo studies in recent years by Forrester Research in association with B2BecNews and Internet Retailer show that B2B buyers increasingly favor self-service eCommerce over interacting with a sales rep to research and purchase products. And nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers say that buying from an eCommerce site is more convenient than purchasing through a sales rep."

In addition a Sana Commerce survey of more than 500 companies finds that, "on average, companies go online to purchase 75% of the products they need, and that 30% of B2B buyers say they prefer to buy nearly all of their products online."

2. Manufacturers are Accelerating eCommerce

Manufacturers spending more on ecommerceAccording to DigitalCommerce360, "nearly 80% of manufacturers say they will spend more on B2B eCommerce, according to data published in the 2019 U.S. B2B eCommerce Market Report. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) accounts for just over two-thirds of all electronic sales for manufacturers, but that number continues to decline as product makers emphasize eCommerce."

Another survey by Salesforce.com, reports that, "driven in large measure by changing business buyer behavior and customer expectations, manufacturers also are investing heavily in more B2B eCommerce technology."

3. Distributors Lead Manufacturers in eCommerce Adoption

Distributors lead manufacturers in eCommerce adoption

The internet has dramatically accelerated the move from phone and fax to electronic ordering, and in 2018, for the first time, U.S. companies made more of their B2B sales electronically than through traditional purchasing methods.

According to the 2019 U.S. B2B eCommerce Market Report, "nearly two-thirds of distributors have a B2B eCommerce site, compared with only about 40% of manufacturers. But as more businesses buy and sell products and services online, the number of eCommerce sites for both product makers and distributors, wholesalers and others will increase."

4. A 2019 update on Grainger, an Industrial eCommerce Leader

Grainger.com product page with CADGrainger's net sales grew 7.6% last year to $11.22 billion, including more than half through eCommerce but CEO Macpherson says they are, “not where we want to be” and is focused on several growth initiatives. “We feel we can gain share consistently and add to our bottom line,” he said and laid out several steps, including:

  • Improving and integrating product and customer data—with an influx of newly recruited technology talent. “We are learning very quickly” in such areas as "digital marketing, internet search media and mass marketing to improve online merchandising displays and ... more effective site search." For example click on the image above to see the use of CAD on a product page.
  • Increasing the SKU count on Zoro.com (which is on course to do $650 million in 2019), from 2.5 million to as much as 5 million by the end of next year, eventually getting to about 15 million.
  • Building a new 800,000-SKU distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, to expand the company’s ability to handle expedited shipping.
  • Better organizing product category assortments in a “way that makes sense” for customers, and increasing its efforts to improve service tailored to specific markets.

5. An update on Amazon Business in the Industrial Space

Applico Amazon Business Teardown ReportAmazon Business has obviously changed the B2B distribution landscape dramatically, but "with the right data and strategy, traditional distributors can adapt by leveraging their existing supply relationships and logistics infrastructure into worthy Amazon competitors." So says business consultancy Applico - download their free Amazon Business Teardown Report which offers a detailed look at the B2B marketplace’s seller data, and offers guidance in how to leverage that data into a winning market strategy.

Also see our earlier blogs, Amazon; Friend, Foe or Frenemy to Industrial eCommerce and 2 Industrial Suppliers Share Advice On Using Amazon Business.

6. Getting your Sales Team to Embrace eCommerce

This MDM post points out that, "established sales teams are naturally suspicious of anything that disrupts the status quo, especially when those efforts could impact their pay. So, when you show up with your shiny new e-commerce platform, you could find your sales team a major obstacle to a successful rollout." They go on to detail four ways you can take action to take care of both your customers and sales people. Read the piece for the detail.

  • Build Key Partnerships in the Sales Team
  • Outline the Sales Team Payment Plan
  • Turn Your Site into a Sales Tool for Your Team
  • Feature your Sales People on Your eCommerce Platform

7. What B2B can learn from B2C

According to an Accenture study, 90% of B2B executives cite customer experience as a “very important factor to achieving their organizations’ strategic priorities,” but only 20% “excel at Customer Experience (CX) and achieve strong financial results.” To remedy this, Marketing Insider suggests three key takeaways that B2B brands can adopt from the B2C:

  • Fast, convenient customer support is paramount
  • The human touch still matters
  • Personalization is a must-have

8. Listening to Customers Online

This Forbes article describes how to transfers your verbal Active Listening Skills to the digital world of eCommerce.

9. The role of Visualization in eCommerce Continues with AR

GSA increasing purchasing via eCommerceProduct visualization continues to be more and more important in eCommerce. In the same way that viewing of 3D CAD models (zoom, pan, rotate) rather than just 2D pictures, built confidence for users, so augmented reality (AR) is increasing the conversion rates of ads. Rather than seeing one angle of a product and trying to make a decision, you can see all of it. Search Insider discusses the AR features Google released to the web in search and browsers as well as announced at their May I/O developers conference. Marketers will be able to have several animated objects in the browser and Google may include them within the search results where they fully control the experience. Back in September Apple released the ability for Safari users to have a simple AR experience in the web browser. For an industrial update on relevant AR by PTC see this AR webinar focused on manufacturing and service use cases

10. Government is Increasing its Use of eCommerce

B2B eCommerce World reports, "Having doubled online spending in the past four years, the federal government is developing plans for agencies to further increase purchases of supplies and services through marketplaces."

Conclusions/Recommendations

1. Industrial eCommerce continues to accelerate and finesse. We all need to stay up to date. If any of the above are new to you, we recommend taking the time to follow the links and read the reports for yourself.

2. All the above reflect current 2019 reports and articles. We also need to look ahead, for example see: The Coming Impact of IIoT on Industrial Sales and Marketing.and Marketing with CAD Models, an Update on Trends and Formats.

If you have any questions please ask them by leaving a comment below (or click to ask a question) and, as always, if anything isn't clear or thorough enough please call us.

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