According to TradeGecko, 82% of B2B buyers want their business purchasing experience to be like their personal shopping. This week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, CIO Pat Quinn and Brent Harris, director of customer engagement, join Catherine Bruce to discuss how the increasing transition to online shopping is affecting B2B businesses.
There are three categories of tools involved in providing this kind of transactional ease:
- Automated Syndication of Product Info
- Transparent Transaction Processes (such as Delivery and Invoicing)
- Streamlined Websites/Platforms
SYNDICATION PROVIDES DISTRIBUTORS WITH PRODUCT DATA TO BETTER SELL YOUR PRODUCTS.
As with any other B2C online shopping experience, transactional ease is no longer a nice-to-have… it is a must-have. The migration to ecommerce is not just being reinforced by many customers seeking to purchase products online– but also by more and more distributors and partners who also want the convenience of being able to market and sell online as well.
The first tool required to create transactional ease is syndication, meaning the automatic sending of information into partner systems. This can include product descriptions, pictures, and videos that the distributors can use to more effectively inform buyers.
That means that manufacturers will need to provide those partners with the rich product information to better market and sell their products or services. Those manufacturers also need to make available a regular cadence of real-time information such as inventory availability, lead times, and pricing so that all that online information is accurate. Because B2B companies are indeed going to have to start listing clear, visible prices online more often.
The days of leaving a telephone number or a digital form to receive a quote on an order are coming to an end. Imagine if you were shopping for a pair of shoes or sunglasses online, and you found something you liked, but there was no price listed. If you needed to call a hotline to find out whether the item was in stock, or how much it might cost, would you bother? Most buyers definitely wouldn’t. They would close down that tab and find another product with that information readily available instead.
Keep in mind, your price doesn’t always have to be the lowest out there for your product or service. But it is a factor that buyers will want to be able to weigh against their other options so that they can make the best decisions available to them when ordering products online.
TRANSPARENT DELIVERY AND INVOICING DATA MAKES LIFE EASIER FOR BUYERS AND DISTRIBUTORS.
When customers are constantly bringing their daily consumer habits into the workplace, it goes beyond just a desire for rapid purchasing options– but also instantaneous information.
Buyers fully expect B2B delivery promises to be met over 90% of the time. They also expect real-time order tracking, from the moment the order is placed all the way through to delivery. And if there are any delays, they want to be notified so they can plan and prepare for any changes that may happen as a result of a change to the estimated delivery date.
The second category of tool that can aid transactional ease in the B2B world involves shipment tracking, invoicing, and online payments. Such tools don’t just make buying or selling easy; they also give buyers peace of mind about the solution they’ve chosen, and about when it’s going to arrive.
Additionally, this can free up a lot of time for suppliers who would otherwise be coordinating many such details manually over the phone or through manual data entry. All of these things will increase customer satisfaction and thus in turn will also increase the likelihood of future sales.
AUTOMATIC COMMUNICATION BETWEEN ONLINE PLATFORMS OR SYSTEMS IS A MUST.
Transactional ease goes beyond just selling online: it also means synchronizing data between supplier and distributor, so that all of those transactions can be exchanged easily from system to system.
Imagine if you’re an electrical distributor and you have 100 different suppliers. You don’t really want to have to log in to the site for each of those 100 different suppliers every day to find out the status of various orders or product numbers. You would rather access all the information on your own portal.
More and more businesses are connecting their systems using modern APIs and microservices so their platforms can communicate with one another and present accurate data in real time. This inter-company communication brings greater convenience to suppliers, distributors, and customers alike.
That makes the third tool for maximizing convenience… a manufacturer’s website itself. Acuity Brands, for example, has a very rich and complex web presence that enables the entire buying cycle: from specification sheets all the way to delivery and installation. Not only is it a good practice for a website to have all these options anyway– but the faster it can communicate with outside distributor systems to speed up every buyer’s experience wherever they are, the better.
Visit the Acuity Brands website to learn more or see tangible examples of transactional ease in action. Next week, we’ll dig deeper into every manufacturer’s most powerful marketing tool… their website.
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