The global pandemic forced many businesses to change, writes Andre Adendorff, director of presales at Seidor Africa, and companies and employees who had resisted digital innovation suddenly had no choice.
The demand for online sales began to grow as populations were locked down to quell the spread of the virus. Businesses without an online or digital presence have been left badly exposed and many are playing catch-up.
On the plus side, although Covid-19 accelerated the shift to e-commerce everywhere, it has the potential to be much more lucrative in countries like South Africa where many more people are developing the habit of online buying for the first time.
There are perks to being late adopters of new technology, including greater reliability, cost-effectiveness, and improvement. Over the last decade e-commerce solutions have proved themselves in global markets, not only with multinationals, but also in smaller businesses across many diverse industry sectors.
It makes sense for businesses that want to harness the power of automation and all the benefits that it brings to adopt the technology that have been most successful.
Here are five key reasons for implementing a B2B e-commerce solution in your business right now:
Today, with the move away from in-person sales and events, digital sales is playing an important role in helping companies to find new opportunities quickly, meet customer expectations and increase service levels.
By enabling efficiencies up and down the supply chain, an integrated B2B e-commerce platform makes it easier to meet those service levels, deliver on time, and keep orders flowing in, with customers benefiting too.
In the wholesale marketplace, service level agreements (SLAs), are of the utmost importance. Enhancing customer engagement and experience increases positive word of mouth and loyalty, boosting sales and increasing profits. This is especially important in the B2B environment, where sales take more time and patience is required to earn a buyer’s trust and loyalty.
Improved brand awareness
An e-commerce platform enables you to build a strong digital presence for your brand. It offers the perfect platform to connect with your target market and create meaningful conversations about your brand. It tracks the buying patterns of your customers and alerts you to when they might be running out of products, so that you can alert them about restocking.
It’s a great way to keep customers happy while increasing your revenue. It also allows you to personalise the customer buying experience, helping your business to build its brand.
Providing detailed product information and features is key for an effective branding strategy. You can demonstrate care about the needs and concerns of your customers by providing them with relevant information, including key features and benefits.
Enhanced cross- and up-selling
Cross- and up-selling in the ecommerce environment involves identifying related products and services and creating appropriate offers.
When customers have found everything, they need on your website, you can request feedback on how they feel your sales process can be improved and review their recent purchase to see if there are additional items that might complement their current order. This can help you grow your average order value with relatively little marketing effort.
Testing ground for new offerings
An e-commerce platform provides an excellent testing ground for the viability of new products, enabling your business to get real-world feedback and to gauge future demand. Testing product viability ensures that you aren’t wasting your time or money when launching a new product or service.
Providing an omni-channel experience
An e-commerce platform can support multiple channels of customer engagement – web, voice, digital, email and more. Supporting multiple channels within a single interaction is the complete omnichannel customer experience that is expected by today’s B2B customers.
In the business-to-business (B2B) environment, having each part of a business able to access the same repository of data has been a revelation for companies that manage large, complex inventories.
Wholesalers have traditionally invested well in ERP, stock management, logistics, accounting software and other areas of IT because these solutions form the foundation of a successful warehouse operation. ERP is no longer reserved for large corporates. SME’s can buy a premium tool without paying a premium cost.
By embracing e-commerce, digital transformation can allow you to scale your business significantly by making further improvements to efficiencies, reaching new customers in new markets, and attracting, retaining, and empowering the best talent to help them grow.
The bottom line is that good salespeople need tools and support to perform at their best, and the reality of a forward-thinking 21st century sales environment is that digital offers massive benefits. It allows the sales team to serve customers more powerfully and generate better results across the board — both in the customer experience and the company’s bottom line.
Choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business needn’t be a daunting and tough decision, nor a time-consuming task, provided that you opt for seamless out-of-the-box ERP integration, coupled with B2B industry expertise.