Finding Success with B2B Omnichannel Commerce

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In today’s post-pandemic world, the ecommerce environment has shifted tremendously, changing the face of business-to-business (B2B) customer interactions.

For the first time, B2B ecommerce sellers are more likely to offer ecommerce channels than in-person selling, leading to a change in the types of sales channels businesses operate out of.

One clear result of this has been the broader implementation of omnichannel marketing and selling strategies.

For businesses, omnichannel represents an opportunity to track the customer journey from start to finish — through every sales channel and at every customer touchpoint — while for customers, it has led to increased expectations and greater attention to online solutions.

As digital commerce grows in size, shape and expectations, businesses wanting to keep up will need to take a long look at whether omnichannel is right for them.

Why B2B Businesses Should Have an Omnichannel Approach

By implementing a consistent, quality B2B omnichannel experience, your business can help increase customer retention, raise revenues and establish your brand.

To understand why, consider the following:

Omnichannel sales are more effective than ever.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey, 94% of B2B decision makers state that the new omnichannel sales model is as effective or more compared to sales models they used prior to the pandemic — a nearly 30% increase from pre-COVID-19.

As omnichannel continues to grow in popularity and capability, ecommerce organizations must adapt to the changing reality and shift their selling approaches. The more channels you are able to sell into, the more sales you can profit from.

Customers are using more channels than ever.

The omnichannel approach encompasses the use of many different sales channels, from an offline brick-and-mortar store to an online website.

Now, more than ever, consumers interact with multiple channels when purchasing products. In 2016, the average B2B customer used five channels along their buying journey. In 2021, that number doubled to ten.

With more customers using different channels, B2B businesses that isolate themselves within a single sales avenue are missing out on sales as well as opportunities to interact with customers.

Buyers are more likely to purchase online after COVID-19.

As a result of pandemic-related business restrictions, customers became more likely to purchase online in the post-COVID world. From 2019 to 2020, the ecommerce share of total global retail sales had one of its largest jumps ever, increasing nearly 5%.

While many B2B companies may find themselves hesitant to move into online sales, an omnichannel approach could allow them to maintain the channels they’re used to while opening their business up to tremendous online opportunities.

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How B2B Omnichannel Benefits Online Stores

For B2B businesses, there are many potential benefits to an omnichannel strategy, including:

Increased likelihood of purchase across channels.

One of the most immediate benefits of B2B omnichannel is that it allows businesses to reach more customers in more places. Being present on multiple sales channels will enable you to reach potential customers that may have yet to be interested in your company before or even knew it existed.

The more opportunities customers have to see the face of your business, the more likely they’ll consider making a purchase. Learn more about omnichannel strategy in our Guide to Omnichannel Ecommerce.

Customers are more likely to recommend your brand.

Brands with unified B2B sales and B2B marketing messaging across multiple channels will have a greater chance of garnering the kind of rapport with customers that ensures they will ultimately recommend your brand.

Consider the ease of recommendation with omnichannel. Instead of simply recommending a friend go to a physical store, a customer can show off the business through various channels, whether on social media or a mobile app.

Increased customer loyalty.

In today’s digital ecommerce world, it is not simply enough to have happy customers — you want loyal customers that come back again and again.

Omnichannel can help build customer loyalty by creating a seamless customer experience, giving more opportunities to customers across multiple channels and in all stages of the B2B buyers journey. This customer-centric approach can work to prevent losses of information, increase the quality of customer service and reward customers wherever they shop.

Challenges to Omnichannel in B2B

Despite the latent benefits of B2B omnichannel, there will still be several challenges for ecommerce businesses, including:

Back office integration.

To achieve a high-quality omnichannel experience, businesses need a close integration and relationship between the front and back offices.

This can pose a challenge since back office tasks are often more complex than front office operations, requiring additional resources and more extended time frames to complete. These gaps in workflows and time must be well coordinated or they can quickly lead to inefficiencies or inconsistencies.

When investing in omnichannel, ensure that your business invests in coordinating the efforts of both back and front office, improving communication and tying goals together.

Difficulty sharing data with other teams.

Customers typically leave behind a treasure trove of real-time data — from contact information to product preferences — regardless of the channel they operate in.

One of the critical difficulties for omnichannel teams is consolidating customer data within a single frame of reference. It is very easy for data to get lost within a single channel or department, leading to silos of information.

Make sure that your teams can input data into a well-integrated platform, capable of pulling information from different sources and displaying it for any team that needs to view it. The greater the collaboration between channels, the greater success you will find.

Employee resistance.

With any new implementation or technology invariably comes resistance to change. When you begin to work with an omnichannel mindset, be aware that there may be departments or employees who aren’t as sold on the idea and may be reluctant to contribute.

To counteract resistance, the best step you can take is to educate them on the benefits of B2B omnichannel and how it’ll ultimately simplify and better their work life.

Not only can it grow sales and increase customer satisfaction, but omnichannel also gives sales employees even more opportunities to reach out to customers, learn what they’re looking for and better act on it. As any good salesman knows, the more information you have at your fingertips, the better chance of making the sale.

How to Be Successful with B2B Omnichannel

To find success with B2B omnichannel, consider the following tactics:

Focus on the customer.

The primary benefit of B2B omnichannel is that it is first and foremost a customer-centric approach. To ensure this approach is successful — and ultimately, the omnichannel strategy is successful — your business must create a seamless, compelling customer journey.

Regardless of where they are in the sales process or whichever sales channel they’re operating in, you must clearly understand the customer preferences of each touchpoint and how best you can satisfy them.

If a customer loves the in-store experience but hasn’t figured out how to find what they’re looking for online, your job is to figure out why and quickly make amends.

Take a holistic approach.

When settling on an omnichannel selling strategy, make sure to take an all-encompassing, holistic approach.

What does this mean in layman’s terms? In essence, a holistic business approach connects every department to help them work as one team.

With omnichannel, a holistic strategy should seem obvious — because of the many sales channels used, the more departments that are able to participate, the more likely they are to find success.

Proactive channel management.

However connected your department or channels are, there will inevitably be channel conflicts. This could be the sales teams wanting to work in a specific channel, support teams wishing to specialize in a particular product or even fulfillment wanting to prioritize a channel for distribution.

When mapping out your omnichannel strategy, make sure that you segment members of different teams to find the ideal fit for customers, channel and teams. If your teams are fighting amongst themselves, it’ll only harm the ultimate success of your products.

Want to learn more about which channels are right for your B2B ecommerce business? Take our quiz to find out.

Digitally enabled sales and marketing.

A successful digital transformation must have digitally enabled sales and marketing teams. This requires investing in the right technology and a strong collaboration between sales, marketing and IT to improve advanced analytics and sales tools.

In a digital world, analytics is an increasingly critical aspect of any business, whether using online marketing enablements such as Google Analytics or implementing marketing automation.

Cross-team collaboration.

To gain the most success from omnichannel, you must find ways to improve cross-team collaboration. This includes connecting marketing and sales teams into a single way of thinking, as well as creating a cross-functional collaboration between developers, designers and product managers.

Siloed teams or departments can be deadly for omnichannel strategies, as they can walay communication and inhibit sales growth.

Understand the importance of customer retention.

With any sales initiative, it is necessary to prioritize not new customers but also customer retention.

What can you do to ensure that customers return to buy from you again? What processes in place succeed and what do not?

With an omnichannel approach, ensuring that the buyer journey is capable at every touchpoint can help to build customer comfortability and loyalty, opening up the path for them to return and recommend your offerings to others.

Data, data, data.

Data is perhaps the most important part of any sales or digital marketing strategy.

By surveying key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics across your communication channels, you can gain insights into the omnichannel customer experience, allowing you to review your marketing strategies and determine what paths to pursue in the future.

Data-driven insights can be leveraged across channels to generate leads, capture growth opportunities and drive sales.

A New Approach for New Expectations

BigCommerce’s B2B ecommerce platform enables you with powerful features to readily meet — and exceed — your buyers’ expectations.

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The Final Word

B2B brands must embrace omnichannel to meet customer needs and customer expectations. More than anything else, omnichannel represents a chance to move along with customers across their customer journey, offering them services or solutions, regardless of where they are.

By prioritizing omnichannel, businesses can signal to customers that meeting their needs is the number one goal. It is a process that can take time, but ultimately, one that will be worth it for any forward-thinking organization.

FAQs About B2B Omnichannel

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