With online shopping becoming second nature to the average consumer, it’s logical that B2C ecommerce gets more spotlight than B2B ecommerce. After all, it’s MUCH more exciting to talk about getting groceries from Amazon via drone than it is to think about how to make industrial office cleaning supplies a topic that people are even willing to discuss.
And as a result, B2B ecommerce has been a breeding ground for rampant misconceptions about the industry as a whole.
Which is one of the many reasons we’ve partnered with Four51: to make B2B ecommerce an even bigger part of our agency’s focus in 2016. We want to make sure companies like yours are able to respond to your buyers’ changing demands.
To help clear up some of these common misconceptions, we put together a list of the 5 biggest myths surrounding B2B ecommerce that we've encountered and have cleared up for our clients.
Five Biggest B2B Ecommerce Myths
Myth #1 – B2B ecommerce isn’t that big of a deal.
In the United States alone, B2B ecommerce is twice as large as B2C ecommerce. And it’s only going to continue to grow.
Considering the following:
In 2014, U.S. Online B2B Spending was at $692 billion.
And, according to recent forecasts by Forrester Research, that number will increase to hit $1 Trillion by 2018 (Forrester Research B2B ecommerce Forecast, 2015 to 2020). In short, B2B ecommerce is colossal, and should not be underestimated. B2B ecommerce IS that big of a deal.
Myth #2 – You don’t need a well-designed or intuitive site.
Let’s face it: B2B ecommerce can be kind of boring. So it makes sense that companies don’t feel the need to make their sites pretty or exciting.
But, as consumers demand (and receive!), bigger, better, faster, more intuitive, sexier, and most customized shopping experiences in their day-to-day lives, it’s only natural that those expectations will begin to bleed into the professional sphere (read: into the world of B2B ecommerce)
Forrester predicts that companies who fail to implement a B2B ecommerce solution will simply fall behind, and a solid customer experience will separate the good B2B companies from the great (“The eCommerce Gap Widens”). Andy Hoar, Forrester analyst, emphasizes the large number of “B2B buyers demanding continuous and real-time engagement across the entire customer journey.”
The moral of the story? Users get just as frustrated (and bounce!) from poorly-designed B2B sites as they do B2C.
Myth #3 – You don’t need a responsive or mobile-friendly B2B ecommerce site.
After all, the people that will be buying from you are other businesses… which means that they’re sitting in offices at desktop computers, right? Wrong.
Taking away the fact that post-Mobilegeddon, you need to have a mobile-friendly site to be able to maximize your SEO and digital strategy efforts. Millennials (a.k.a. digital natives who expect access on all devices) conduct nearly half of all digital research in the B2B space. Failure to meet their needs could result in a missed sale opportunity.
More importantly, for your business, however, is this: B2B Buyers that interact in an omnichannel environment spend more money than those who interact with a single, traditional channel. (Forrester, The Case for Channel-Shifting Offline Customers Online)
Myth #4 – Marketing best practices are unimportant for B2B sites.
Incorporating elements like well-written product descriptions, marketing automation to delight and nurture leads and clients, and SEO best practices are often written off as unnecessary B2C fluff. I mean, who really wants to follow an integrated cloud applications company on Instagram?
Like any product purchase, consumers want to understand what they’re getting. And in an industry that’s racing towards more and more Marketplace-based models, where price may turn into the deciding factor, building a brand that is loved and respected will allow you to avoid the race to the bottom that is required for success in a price-determinate market.
Myth #5 – You don’t need to continue to invest in your ecommerce platform.
The key takeaway from this is that the only points of differentiation from a best-in-class B2C ecommerce site to a best-in-class B2B ecommerce site are the type of products they carry and the audiences they serve. B2B ecommerce isn’t going anywhere, and stands to become even more fiercely competitive. As such, continuing to stay on top of best practices and trends of BOTH the B2C and B2B spheres is critical for ongoing viability and success.