B2B buyers: 'Give us eCommerce tools, not reps!'

Letting your B2B customers self-serve could be very good for business

5 Mar 2020

While eCommerce used to be the domain of B2C businesses, more organisations are realising that seamless digital buying experiences add value to B2B transactions too. That’s not just about driving sales – it can deliver value to your client’s business and to yours on multiple levels, without undermining your ongoing relationship. 

Here’s why investing in an eCommerce platform for your B2B customers could be a game-changer for your business. 

People like self-service

While it’s easy to think about B2B and B2C clients as quite different beasts, they have one very important similarity. Regardless of whether they’re buying a new top or four hundred ballpoint pens, at the other end of the transaction is a person. 

That means that while B2B customers will have different functional needs to consumers, they still welcome and enjoy seamless and easy-to-use digital experiences. 

According to a 2018 Forrester survey, B2B buyers now prefer digital ordering tools over the more traditional approach of buying from a sales rep. 70% of respondents said they found it more convenient. 

The growth in online shopping could be behind the trend. As more consumers grow comfortable with eCommerce, those B2B buyers expect and demand the same seamless, easy-to-use experiences they enjoy in their personal lives. This is especially visible in younger workers, who’ve grown up in the self-service age.

Get a competitive edge


It follows, then, that those businesses making it easy for consumers to buy and track their orders will hold a competitive advantage over those still using paper catalogues. An omnichannel system like InsiteCommerce can also automate things like managing inventory and reordering. Again, traditional ordering processes are no match for a platform that delivers that degree of capability. That can be a crucial differentiator for any business, but especially if you’re selling in a low-margin or highly competitive market. 

Drive efficiency in both businesses

Moving from a traditional catalogue-and-sales-reps model to an eCommerce solution can eliminate much of the low-value work that holds up teams in your business and in your client’s too – an eCommerce engine purpose-built for B2B accelerates the productivity of everyone involved in the buying experience. That’s good for the day-to-day running of your business – and it will make customers come back again and again. 

Less admin, more relationships

The biggest hesitation with a self-service model is around losing visibility to your customers. But eCommerce tools don’t remove the need for a sales team – they just change their role in the process.

When your salespeople no longer have to track customer information or perform mundane tasks, they can instead focus on delivering a better, more tailored service. They can spend more time understanding your clients’ businesses – and yours – so they’re better positioned and more available to find win/win opportunities, and capable of offering advice and support.

Gather intelligence


Knowledge is still very much power – something that eCommerce solutions deliver in spades. 

A great B2B eCommerce solution will be omnichannel, so you’ll get a full picture of both online and offline transactions. InsiteAnalytics for eCommerce, for example, delivers a dynamic perspective of your sales, customers, users, and sites. This gives you true insight into how your online presence is performing. Dashboards are also attached to self-service events, letting you track self-service KPIs, not just revenue.

Digital commerce also means you can efficiently gather market intelligence, which can be invaluable when you’re marketing or launching new product streams. 

Sell more with better personalisation


While in B2C retailing personalisation increases revenue by promoting impulse purchasing, in B2B it improves sales too – but in a different way. Excellent B2B personalisation works by increasing the efficiency of every role – not just the B2B buyer, but the many responsibilities of roles associated with the purchase. In short, personalisation gets the customer to buy more because it’s convenient, efficient and easy. 

Great B2B eCommerce grows businesses 

Just as self-service platforms have revolutionised the B2C industry, so too are they set to change the way B2B businesses buy from you. The buyers themselves now prefer a digital portal to buying from a rep for the control, ease and efficiency it delivers, both for themselves and others involved in the buying process. 

B2B eCommerce benefits your business too, with improved efficiency and more capacity to deliver exceptional sales support. It also drives sales with more personalised experiences. Plus, with access to up-to-date sales data, you’ll have the information you need to understand how you’re performing across multiple channels, and to support new marketing pushes. This all adds up to one important competitive advantage – and a compelling argument for implementing a B2B eCommerce solution as a priority for your business. 

Deliver a better buying experience for your B2B customers and gain a competitive advantage – get in touch with Solutionists today.


Jessica de Heij

date published:

5 Mar 2020