Why B2B companies adapt their business to digital sales

We recently published our fifth annual report “Scandinavian B2B Commerce 2021”. This year has shown several interesting insights into the driving forces behind B2B companies adapting to digital sales channels.

Currently, 65% of companies are using digital channels to enable sales in one form or another. Some, 17%, allow customers to request prices or quotas online, and 10% feature a digital product catalog that current or potential customers can browse before contacting the sales department. A whopping 34% of businesses have set up their own webshop to drive B2B sales, and is thus the most popular choice for B2B companies entering the online environment.

Simplification and streamlining drives digital solutions

The main driving force for introducing digital sales channels is a desire to simplify administration and streamline sales. This key factor is shared across countries, industries and organizations,  and approximately 40% of B2B companies believe this to be the most important reason to implement digital sales. 

Want to know more about how B2B companies embrace digital opportunities? Download the full report here.

Key driving forces for digital sales

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Another strong driving force for digital sales is increased service levels. Customers can purchase products and access automated service functions during off-hours, not having to wait for a representative to be available. 

A third of B2B companies highlight meeting customers’ needs as a factor behind their decision to implement a digital solution. Others also look to reach new markets and new customer segments. The decision to go digital simply brings plenty of new possibilities to B2B companies, with very high ROI. 

Disconnect from personal sales and business operations are holding many companies back

Still, 25% of companies are not using any digital channels to enable sales, and have no plans on introducing an ecommerce solution within the next three years. One of the main reasons for not going into digital sales is the experienced difficulty with transferring a personal sales relationship to the digital environment. In total,  28% of companies experience this to be a challenge, as B2B sales is traditionally done through a personal connection between the sales representative and the customer.

Challenges of launching B2B digital commerce

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The second and third challenge B2B companies experience are difficulties integrating digital solutions with their current business strategy and established procedures & practices. Adapting business practices to the digital arena often means having to evolve sales, marketing, logistics, finance and other areas. A task some might feel is daunting at first, until they see the benefits.  

Reaping the benefits of digital sales solutions

The companies that have already introduced digital solutions mainly report reduced administrative costs, along with increased service levels and more satisfied customers. Many B2B companies report increased sales among new and existing customer segments, and a stronger brand position, boosting competitiveness. 

Platforms simplify the digitalization of B2B sales

Alongside the evolution of digital sales for B2B companies, simple and effective ecommerce platforms have emerged. With experience from B2C ecommerce, these platforms offer advanced solutions for B2B companies that are effectively bridging the gap between online and offline sales. Implementing digital sales channels into existing business practices have been simplified greatly. 

Many platforms also offer assistance in setting up business strategies that optimally merge new and more traditional processes. For B2B companies wanting to embrace the digital environment there are plenty of solutions that take a step-by-step approach ensuring that everyone is aboard. 

Expansions will come from digital sales

A total of 74% of companies that have already implemented digital sales foresee an increase in total sales, boosted by these new channels. Thriving in the success from the transformation, most plan to increase both their spending and focus on online sales in the next three years. Another 10% (27% of non-digital companies) are planning to implement digital solutions within three years. The race for B2B businesses to go digital is far from over, and every day more companies make this transition.

As part of this year's report, we created a B2B commerce maturity ladder, to visualize how far companies have come in their digital journey. The results show that 44% have only just begun their digitalization, and only 10% can claim to have mastered the digital sales process. 

Want to know more about how B2B companies embrace digital opportunities? Download the full report here.