Five undeniable benefits of digital media
Ernie Thomas Stiegler
VP, Client Engagement
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For most of the free world, e-commerce is an everyday part of life. Going online to buy a shirt, buy a pair of shoes or buy a gift for your Mom are all normal transactions contributing to the ever-growing e-commerce landscape.
Yet in the world of business-to-business commerce, the concept of e-commerce is still met with hesitation in many industries.
This is understandable because many businesses still rely on sales teams, so it’s important to respect the sales process of each unique marketplace. On the other hand, we’re all consumers (even in B2B sales), so it’s important to provide the best service possible to your customers.
It’s critical to know what your customer journey is and enhance it with a seamless, convenient process to buy your goods or services. In B2B sales, this usually includes a sales team selling products to other businesses so they can manufacture a final product that is ultimately sold to the public. Or, some businesses simply resell products to end-users.
Whether you sell through retail partners, sell direct or need to support your sales team, there are ways to infuse e-commerce into your B2B sales. Below are three proven options you can use to integrate e-commerce.
Option 1: Build sales through retail partners
In building a new website for Arrow Fastener, we intentionally built a site that functioned like an e-commerce site but was designed to directly support product sales at retail partners like Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc.
This approach helped to strengthen Arrow Fastener’s relationship with its retail partners, which are its primary B2B customers, as these retailers inventory products (staple guns, glue guns, rivet tools) to sell to consumers.
The website demonstrated Arrow Fastener’s strong digital brand footprint via increased site traffic and pushed a high volume of referral traffic to retail partners’ websites. We accomplished this by placing Buy Now buttons on all product pages, with each Buy Now click opening a list of retailers where that product could be purchased instead of activating an onsite shopping cart.
The referral traffic created a digital trail where sales were tracked back to Arrow’s website. This process boosted sales, increased market share and helped secure more critical shelf space.
This site build worked in coordination with retailers, but if your products are sold through wholesalers and distributors instead of retailers, this strategy can be applied through those avenues as well.
Option 2: Direct e-commerce sales
Yes, traditional e-commerce works for B2B sales. In the case of BuildClean, this sales model worked wonders as we achieved a 30 percent increase in e-commerce sales year-over-year.
BuildClean was a start-up business in the midst of walking away from its sales staff and shifting to an e-commerce-only sales structure. SWBR was tasked with raising the brand’s online presence and driving e-commerce sales, which was a tall task considering the brand was not well known at the time and the sales price was north of $1,000 per unit.
BuildClean manufactures a HEPA Air Scrubber, which is an air filtration system designed to eliminate up to 90 percent of airborne job site dust. It’s about the size of a large ShopVac and is marketed primarily to construction and remodeling professionals.
We succeeded by launching a multi-channel digital campaign to get the attention of construction and remodeling pros, and once our target audience was educated on the benefits of this product, the sales started rolling in. This approach worked very well, but it took a concerted effort to build the brand. If you’re considering this approach, be prepared and stay the course to grow your customer base.
Option 3: Support your sales team
Lots of B2B sales simply don’t happen without face-to-face communication to close the deal, and that’s just the facts no matter how much technology can assist. Therefore, it’s important to understand the customer journey and how new leads are generated for your sales team.
Perhaps the most common model is to create a sales funnel that pushes prospects to a website to fill out a form, thereby generating a lead that can be pushed into your CRM and assigned to a salesperson. At this point, there should be an email marketing drip campaign or a more robust marketing automation workflow set up to help the sales team to engage with prospects.
So where do e-commerce transactions fit in? Ecommerce sales can be worked in very effectively as a means of generating repeat business.
Once you’ve acquired a new customer, give them exclusive access to a password-protected, e-commerce login on your website. This provides red-carpet access to place future orders, and your pre-approved customers will appreciate these turnkey transactions.
This is a true win-win. It’s a streamlined perk for customers, and each salesperson still gets credit for additional sales from the clients they manage. This also frees up your sales team to spend more time converting additional prospects into customers.
This needs to be thought through to fit your company’s sales and fulfillment process, but this approach to B2B e-commerce can shift your repeat sales into overdrive.
👉 Contact SWBR to see how we can help your business thrive.