8 Common B2B Ecommerce Myths – Debunked!

8 Common B2B Ecommerce Myths – Debunked!

We’re setting the record straight on some common misconceptions about B2B ecommerce.

Did you know that B2B ecommerce is actually much larger than B2C ecommerce – nearly double the market size of B2C! And, as more and more B2B companies continue to adopt digital transformation, it’s expected that 80% of all B2B sales interactions will take place in digital channels by 2025. Interest piqued but still worried it won’t work for your business? Read on to see some of the most common B2B ecommerce myths debunked with data.

1. The Traditional B2B Process Works Fine As Is

The excuse of not changing as a business because it’s working fine the way it has been, is one of the most common pitfalls business owners can fall into. Companies like Blockbuster, Kodak, Blackberry, and Sears were once leaders in their respective industries, but what else did they have in common? They all failed to change, causing them to be left behind from the current demands of the market. 

Research conducted by Mckinsey found that ecommerce was the most popular route to market for B2B companies; 41% of B2B leaders say it’s their most effective sales channel, which is higher than in-person sales at 37%. When it comes to buying online, 46% of B2B buyers are willing to buy from a supplier’s website if the option were available. Mckinsey’s research findings indicate that B2B buyers want efficiency, relevant information, and immediate communications in their customer decision journey. Since B2B ecommerce integrates ERP and other back-end business systems to improve efficiency, it allows the business to focus more on the actual customer service buyers want. 

Ultimately, if a business isn’t growing, then it’s dying; traditional B2B companies that have historically relied on their reputation and trade show booths to reach new customers are missing out on a big piece of the pie. B2B ecommerce opens the door for new opportunities at any time and anywhere, globally, allowing B2B companies to reach into new markets they may not have otherwise been able to tap into.

2. B2B Customers Don’t Want to Buy Online

As technology-savvy generations, like millennials, gain more decision-making responsibility in their careers, it only makes sense for businesses to cater to their preferred buying behaviors. In fact, 73% of millennials are involved in the B2B buying process today. Newer generation buyers tend to do online research and prefer self-service; many prefer not to interact with sales reps. Instead, they’ll seek online reviews, recommendations, and third-party expertise for product research.

89% of B2B buyers use the internet during the research process in their buying journey. Survey data shows that 75% of B2B product purchases are already made online, and concludes that B2B buyers want to make even more purchases online.

3. B2B Pricing Is Too Complex for Ecommerce

One of the core components of B2B ecommerce are customer and company accounts which gives you the ability to set pricing structures and offer an effective quoting system for specific sets of buyers. The flexibility of pricing will just depend on the ecommerce platform you choose; many B2B ecommerce platforms can handle complex account-based pricing and personalization which allow for multiple price lists and show specific pricing information based on account status. If customers need a custom quote, sales reps can use a quoting system in place that allows customers to request a quote for them to send at any time. Even for custom products, product configurators and forms allow B2B sellers to assign prices for each configuration, so that the final price or quote for the customer is automated.

4. Customer Service Doesn’t Translate Online

In-person meetings and phone calls are certainly crucial factors for effective customer service, however, buyers today are expecting and demanding omnichannel customer service. Online stores can now offer a rich set of customer service experience tools like live chat, chatbots, email, SMS, social media, and self-service help desks. All of these tools can be centralized in one database together, so a B2B business can provide a streamlined and convenient customer service experience for the buyer. It’s also worth noting that response time is one of the most important factors in customer service; research by Mckinsey has found that a slow response time is a B2B buyer’s biggest complaint. With an integrated ecommerce solution your customers can access resources, ask questions, and make purchases during non-business hours. 

5. B2B Products Aren’t Suitable For Online Sales

B2B products are often quite complex with a variety of different attributes, configurations, and customizations. B2B buyers need solutions that are custom fit for their needs and many B2B businesses incorrectly assume it can’t be done online. With B2B ecommerce, businesses can offer a high degree of personalization through many tools like product configurators and custom quoting software. Online product configurators allow buyers to customize products and visualize them dynamically. The amount of complex customization options is only limited to what the seller is capable of offering. B2B companies don’t even need a product configurator to handle complex orders online; there are forms you can implement to allow unique configuration options for buyers to fill out, making the process more streamlined than having to consult with a sales rep.  

In the capital equipment space, for example, some manufacturers have broken into the ecommerce space with parts and attachment sales using a digital catalog that makes it easy for buyers to see what components are compatible with their equipment models. Having an online parts store is the perfect route to offer continued after-sales business and drive extra revenue!

6. Ecommerce Only Supports Simple Payment Processes

Most people assume B2B ecommerce only allows for credit cards or other simple payment gateways like PayPal, but there are actually a lot of B2B e-payment options out there. Many leading ecommerce platforms will allow B2B companies to offer a variety of payment options depending on the associated customer accounts. These options include credit card, bank transfers, purchase orders, checks/money orders, mobile wallets, and credit lines. B2B merchants have the ability to set a variety of payment options for specific customers at the account and role level. For instance, depending on the credit worthiness of the customer, you can allow purchase orders at the account level and have specific roles to approve the order. Some platforms, like Magento, already have this as a default option, whereas others would require a third-party integration.   

7. B2B Websites Don’t Need Fancy Design

Simply having an ecommerce website with full B2B functionality isn’t enough; the look, feel, and user experience on the website has a profound impact on customers. Buyers tend to make judgements based on first impressions. According to a research by Stanford, 75% of website users judge a company’s credibility based on their web design. Good web design means a lot for both the B2B company and the user buying; It’s crucial for B2B sellers to provide buyers a great online buying experience through user experience and design. With the right design and development, B2B companies have the ability to offer a highly personalized customer experience with structures in place that guide and help users through every part of their online buying journey.

8. B2B Ecommerce is Costly & Time Intensive

Creating a B2B ecommerce website will absolutely require an investment, but it’s not as bad as you might think. There are a number of powerful ecommerce platforms that let you set up an online store quickly and at a reasonable cost. Leading ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and Ultra Commerce offer comprehensive solutions with out-of-the-box features and capabilities that support a wide range of online B2B needs. Furthermore, these platforms offer custom APIs, third-party apps & integrations, and custom coding so that you can have just about any functionality you can think of. Of course, extra customization and functionalities will most likely require technical design and development work. You’ll need to make sure to develop a plan and budget accordingly for the needs of your online B2B store. 

Have questions about what you just read? Or, want to get started developing a scalable ecommerce store that delivers on all of your B2B needs? Reach out to us.