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Optimizing your business for stronger customer relationships


In our most recent guide, B2B Commerce Trends with IBM solutions, we discussed one trend that we are seeing happening more often – B2B companies bringing eCommerce platforms in-house.  More and more B2B buyers are demanding digital options to purchase products from their suppliers online.  B2B sellers are can establish stronger relationship and achieve greater visibility into their customers and behaviors by integrating channel fulfillment. B2B sellers can gain a higher level of control over their brand, buyer’s journey, customer connections and sales if they get up to speed quickly with their own eCommerce sites that customers will actually utilize.

It sounds pretty obvious and simple, the idea of building an eCommerce strategy that is centric around your customer’s wants and needs.  But in reality, many B2B sellers do not take this approach. Not everyone is quick the digital transformation approach, especially B2B companies but its gaining more traction in recent months and future years as B2B buyers become as empowered as B2C buyers.

75% of B2B buyers prefer convenience of purchasing from a website vs a sales representative

93% of B2B buyers prefer online purchasing over a sales representative (tweet this)

The stats above show exactly what B2B buyers are looking for – DIGITAL!!  And it has been around long enough for all types of companies to get on board. But the focus has to be putting the customer first and developing the strategy around their wants, needs and behaviors. Customers these days are extremely savvy and connected to everything so they are looking for an experience that is easy, convenient and seamless. As we are in the “Age of the Customer/Consumer”, successful B2B companies are constantly and consistently rethinking their commerce strategies in order to anticipate and attend to customer wants and needs.  Three ways come top to mind when thinking about how a B2B company can do this:

Understand the buyer’s journey – especially the path to purchase

Buyers can be influenced by many things: blogs, articles, product reviews, friends, etc. Understanding what truly drives them will help drive messaging that is tightly integrated across all channels and platforms to increase search to sales conversions. Constant and consistent research analytics and ability to adapt will help B2B sellers stay relevant as solutions that build and increase engagement now may not be the same next year or the year after.

Optimize the B2B experience to match B2C expectations – learn from B2C best practices

B2C companies figured out the eCommerce game a long time ago so why reinvent the wheel? Consumers move between a multitude of touch points that did not exist before, researching product information and reviews, checking social networks, and posting/tweeting about their experience through the entire shopping journey on a wide variety of social channels and communities. Every customer is a consumer as well so why wouldn’t they want the same type of experience? B2B customers expect integrated channel fulfillment so eCommerce sites need to be integration-ready to make it easier to interface with inventory availability and real-time pricing. Keys to meeting your customer expectations:

  • Personalization
  • Meet customer expectations the same offline and online
  • Predictive analytics

Re-examine interactions with customersb2b ecommerce2

How do you engage with your buyers today? Is it effective? Are you reaching them across all opportunities and channels? Do you have platforms for mobile, tablet, desktop? Your customers are mobile and connected, so you should be as well – they want flexibility, accessibility and convenience.  Business happens offline and online, via mobile, apps, tablets, desktops, etc.  All of these touchpoints need to integrate and connect with one another. Re-evaluating your customer engagement with today’s buyer is imperative in order to strengthen your buyer relationships. Digital is not meant to be the sole player but it is meant to enhance the customer/seller interaction.

Putting your customers first and staying as relevant as possible when creating your eCommerce strategy will help you improve your customer relationship, increase revenue and stay ahead of your competition.

Download our recent guide here: B2B Commerce Trends with IBM solutions

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Heather Bowman

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