When we talk about ecommerce, we’re usually talking about a specific type of ecommerce – often implied, and apologies if that is not so clear!
When we mention brands and retailers, we’re really talking about direct, business-to-consumer (B2C) companies – at least most of the time. Those that sell hats and gloves, shirts and sneakers, Snickers and soda in low quantities to individuals.
However, during our ongoing coverage of ecommerce in the age of the pandemic and national and regional lockdowns, it’s not only been a Herculean effort for B2Cs to rethink their operations and transform logistics. On the other side of the ecommerce coin are business-to-business (B2B) companies.
B2Bs are a particular type of business beast. Up to now, they’ve pretty much been running with sales reps, face-to-face discussions, email blitzes and phoning frenzies – their digital presence came as an afterthought and out of the necessity for businesses to be online to be of any relevance.
But the majority of how B2Bs work is still traditional. The phone calls, meet and greets, more in-person interactions; very different when compared to its B2C brother, which has invested heavily in the digital sphere, powering their content for multiple regions and languages, creating powerful online experiences for consumers who are increasingly shopping online, on their phones and laptops. The very best B2Cs have been gravitating towards greater infrastructure, better journeys, and stronger loyalty strategies – only achievable on the very best ecommerce platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Interestingly, Salesforce Commerce Cloud (which many oldtimers continue to refer to as Demandware) is the umbrella for two, separate ecommerce platforms: Salesforce B2C Commerce Cloud and Salesforce B2B Commerce Cloud.
Yet the consequences of the pandemic – the forced closure of much of the economy and home office orders – have forced a great rethink of B2B’s more traditional forms of work, and embrace the more digitally-focussed, successful strategies of B2Cs, which have become more pertinent and painfully clear in these last few months.
According to a recent report, during the pandemic, we’ve seen that B2B marketers are upping their digital advertising by 69%; and pumping deeper investment in their website by 66%. However, B2B’s pivot towards B2C’s higher digital experience predates the pandemic, and is backed by a bunch of stats that include:
- 86% of B2B buyers would pay more for a better customer experience.
- The same percentage of B2B chief marketing officers consider customer experience very important.
- 80% of B2B buyers actually expect – rather than simply wanting – a buying experience similar to a B2C customer.
- And 77% of B2B buyers feel that making an online purchase is time consuming and very complicated (what a large stumbling block!).
The gravity towards quicker, simpler, and shorter digital journeys, and the emphasis on a better online experience has already shaped general B2C commerce and is now transforming the B2B space – formerly at a slow and gradual pace but now jolted the accelerator due to the severity of the effects of the pandemic.
To remain relevant – and even in business – while expanding their consumer base, B2Bs, more than ever, are transforming their digital experiences with tools and strategies picked up by B2Cs.