Recent reports show a change in consumer behavior, in which there is an increase in customers returning to shopping in physical stores, thus leading to declining numbers for online sales. However, the trend of more and more companies investing in increased digital commerce continues in B2B.
In our annual survey of B2B companies, launched this summer, over two-thirds of respondents stated that they now have digital sales, and 73% of these respondents predict that digital commerce will increase significantly in the coming years. But what challenges does the rapid development bring?
It is no surprise that the pandemic led to strong advantages within digitization for many industries and businesses, and developments in digital commerce solutions are no exception. 44% of companies surveyed in our annual survey reported that the Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on their decision to begin or accelerate the transition to digital sales. However, not everyone has an organization that is ready to embrace the transition.
One example is that some organizations that have someone (or many) responsible for digital sales, often have other roles within the organization. Therefore, they are often unable to focus fully on their digital offering.
The companies that are truly committed and want to better position themselves to achieve digital maturity and move forward in digital sales transformation, are those with a dedicated digital commerce resource. This position, often titled eCommerce manager, is someone that has full ownership of the issue, as well as mandate and support from the management team.
Possibility of increased automation
The survey further showed that digital commerce will undoubtedly continue to increase for purchases that suit digital channels, such as quick orders with products the customer is familiar with, or recurring purchases. Here, there is an opportunity to drive development towards increased automation, depending on the product and business model.
However, when it comes to more complex products, we expect that personal contact may also be needed in the future to guide through the purchase process. We also believe that the next step will be to package even more complex products and services for online sales using various digital tools.
The consensus is that digital trade will continue to grow, but it is still unclear how. Complex products, such as large machines, will continue to be purchased face-to-face to a great extent, while the trend towards buying spare parts and services will be realized in a simple, digital way.
Scalability and availability
Litium is in the process of adding additional services that make it easier for the customer to find what they need, when they need it, so they are able to solve different business needs simultaneously. International expansion can traditionally be both time-consuming and expensive. But with the scalability and accessibility of a modern digital commerce solution, you can reach other markets faster and with greater ease.
Simplified administration – a major driving force
The development towards seamless international trade is completely in line with the trend that points to B2B customers increasingly expecting the same experience and choices in B2B commerce as in B2C commerce. Our research shows that the biggest driving force for digital sales is to simplify and streamline administration and sales.
Comprehensive digital commerce platforms, which bring different types of business together in the same place, and offer 24/7 availability, are more receptive and willingly able to fulfill the needs of customers, improve their brand position and offer faster deliveries.
The customer experience is even starting to become a competitive differentiating factor. The companies that have reached that insight look beyond improving organizational efficiency and use the customer journey to strengthen relationships and add additional sales. A good example is the so-called digital salesroom, a place where B2B buyers and sellers can meet and interact digitally to maintain personal relationships, while providing a more digitized buyer journey and a more comfortable experience.
Can do wonders for customer satisfaction
Seen from this perspective, digitization has all the prerequisites to lead to increased customer service levels and customer satisfaction, something that was confirmed by Litium's survey. Almost across the board, the questions related to the customer experience performed better than expected.
The conclusion is that digital sales can do wonders for increased customer satisfaction, competitiveness, and sales – at the same time. B2B companies ready to invest in a digital sales strategy must therefore recognize that this goes far beyond implementing a new technology solution. It is an organizational change, and a change that management should play a decisive role in the formulation and implementation of, in order to reach a new digital sales strategy.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts on the development of B2B commerce going forward.