Why e-Commerce is a Complement, Not Replacement for an Onsite Check

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The B2B e-commerce market was valued at $14.9 trillion In 2020. According to Forrester B2B e-commerce will account for 17% of all B2B sales in the U.S. by 2023. 32% of the B2B professionals in the U.S. believe that e-commerce is the most effective way to sell while 23% of these professionals are in favor of the in-person sales. Taking all of this in consideration, the B2B e-commerce is making a big leap and changing its position on the market. 

What is B2B e-commerce?

B2B e-commerce, or business-to-business electronic commerce, is selling goods or services through online transactions between businesses. This way of placing orders digitally has improved the efficiency and the effectiveness of the selling process for the manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.  There is a drastic difference of how e-commerce was perceived on the market before and after the global pandemics. While before the pandemics, e-commerce was slowly adapting among the B2B businesses but after the effect of the pandemics when a lot has changed in the consumers buying behavior, the B2B e-commerce started to rapidly grow. Many of the B2B platforms like for example BeautySourcing are counting on the e-commerce to grow their business. BeautySourcing is a hybrid model with online marketplace together with offline trade show sample presentation where a large number of beauty wholesale suppliers meet to cooperate.

Analyzing the B2B buyers behavior

According to a recent study which analyzed the B2B buyer preferences in over 1200 participants the B2B buyers are in favor of e-commerce over the brick-and-mortar in-store sales. But this doesn’t mean B2B e-commerce experiences are meeting user expectations. According to this study, 50% of B2B e-commerce sites are not fully meeting the buyers expectations and 94% of B2B buyers suffer customer experience challenges online. The message we can draw from this is that the B2B buyers are initially trying the online channels because of convenience and not because the e-commerce experiences meet their expectations. This also tells us that they’re often looking offline or they visit the stores for answers. 

E-commerce is a completement to onsite checks

Even though there are some obvious differences, online (e-commerce) and offline  sourcing overlap far more than they differ. And here we are going to discuss why it is a perfect combination if they complement each other in order to achieve the ultimate potential of your company.  

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  1. What does it take to have a satisfied customer? The answer to both online and offline sale is:  great customer service. The customers love to feel valued.  This is the most necessary aspect that both online and offline experiences should be about achieving this. A strong customer service will attentively deal with advice about a product or complaint in an efficient and customer caring way.  Your e-commerce and in-store customer service need to be on the same page. The old-fashioned onsite customer service might have an advantage in dealing in person with the customers needs, but online customer service needs to follow the lead and provide efficient service. The e-commerce customer service is improving in this manner by using live chat customer service or chatbot software.
  2. Showcasing your product content to the best of your abilities.

When you are buying onsite you have the advantage of physically inspect the products  you are interested in.  It happens very often that there is a sample product which you can closely look at.  When buying online on the other hand, this is not physically possible. In order to improve the customers expectation and experience you can provide booklets, guides, show the product’s dimensions, tutorials and demonstrations on how you can use the product. 

  • After sale care. IT is important to check on your customers after they have bought something for you. This can help you evaluate the customer experiences and learn more about what you need to change or improve. While online this is very easy because of the review options and social media presence, corresponding with your customers is very important to do even when they made an in-store purchase. Checking up on them by an e-mail or phone is a easy way to make this happen and will definitely help in building your customer service to the next level.
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