COVID-19 has completely changed the way B2B businesses sell products to customers. Traditionally a buyer would experience the product and its features first-hand, determine if the product will meet expectations, and make purchases in an office setting. Unfortunately, the ability to safely go through that process is not an option during these unprecedented times.
Businesses must adapt to other digital methods to differentiate from the competition and successfully make sales online. Although this may sound challenging, I recommend taking the following steps to provide an unbeatable B2B commerce experience for your clients during this pandemic.
Turn Salespeople Digital
While digital commerce isn’t new to the B2B realm, many businesses that sell complex products still see a need to maintain a physical sales team to engage with prospects and clients in-person. Salespeople must now switch their traditional selling methods to digital and help their customers through an online buying journey. For instance, businesses that sell complicated healthcare products such as hospital beds or surgical tools have had to transition to an online sales process as opposed to in-person pitches within a facility. While these salesmen cannot physically be in the space to make sales, adding technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) still gives customers the ability to experience a product and use the salesman as a resource to ask questions and further the buying process. The salesman can then speak to his knowledge of the product and how it will best benefit the customer.
Virtual consultation is another avenue that you might want to consider. While it lends itself more to the B2C side of commerce, virtual consultations can be useful in B2B commerce if a consumer has questions about a complex product before they decide to purchase it. Therefore, the sales consultant can give immediate attention to the consumer, eliminate any confusion on the product, and streamline sales.
Integrating the Right Technology
B2B organizations need to incorporate technologies that provide direct access to both the product and the customer to thrive during this pandemic, and having connected inventory and integrated product data can benefit both your internal teams and your customers. By integrating an order management system (OMS), businesses can achieve a global view of product inventory that extends to benefit customers. This will create visibility and transparency on crucial order information such as lead times, warehouse locations, and the potential ability for curbside pickup.
Another simple method for consumers to maintain up-to-date inventory knowledge is through SMS text messages. Customers can sign up to receive text messages once a product is back in stock with purchasing and delivery details. These SMS text messages not only provide consumers with delivery transparency but also incorporates elements and planning windows for safe and contactless delivery.
Personalize the Customer Experience
An increase in online traffic is almost inevitable during this pandemic, and this means each consumer, returning or new, is going to have their own unique buying journey. Incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI), coupled with search term algorithms and tapping into your ecommerce website analytics, can provide insight into these new customer demographics. In turn, this can help determine which products are most beneficial based on the search terms with the most conversions to encourage repeat customer interactions. This strategy of tailoring the experience directly to the consumer can ensure B2B companies remain agile and profitable.
The Future of Successful Digital Commerce
We don’t know exactly when we’ll be able to return to the traditional B2B buying process. Still, we do know that taking these innovative, alternative digital routes allows businesses to thrive during a global pandemic. Companies will continue to find ways to differentiate products through tactics like these to provide an online B2B commerce experience that’s unlike any other.
For questions or comments on how to invest and change your B2B commerce experience for your customers, reach out to our commerce experts.