Customer expectations are rising across all industries and verticals. To retain business, B2B companies must embrace digitization. If you don’t offer a superior web, mobile, and conversational interface, your customers will look for the supplier that does.
Your enterprise may be at the start of its digital journey; formulating strategic directives, discussing channel conflicts, defining ways to augment your B2B business operations with technology. Or you may be further along on the path to digital maturity, exploring marketplace sales channels or discovering how artificial intelligence can assist your efforts. No matter where your enterprise is along the journey to digital maturity, a mobile strategy is imperative to outpace the competition.
B2B COMMERCE MARKET TRENDS & CUSTOMER PERSONAS
Forrester estimates that B2B eCommerce will reach $1.2 trillion and account for 13.1% of all B2B sales in the US by 2021
At the end of 2017, Forrester expects eCommerce to reach $889 billion and represent 11% of total B2B sales in the US.
On top of that, this year 80% of manufacturers surveyed will increase spending on their B2B eCommerce operations, and 38% will increase their spending by 25% or more, a new survey by B2BecNews finds.
WHY DIGITALLY MATURE FURTHER WITH A MOBILE ECOMMERCE STRATEGY?
The nature of B2B eCommerce is changing with millennials entering the roles of purchasing agents and corporate buyers. The B2B buyer is about getting things done, not wanting to make a phone call to place orders or obtain a quote. Using not only computers but smartphones and tablets through their purchasing journey, it makes the delivery of a seamless mobile commerce experience paramount for future growth.
The B2B buyer persona is perfect to utilize mobile commerce, as the majority of them are:
Highly engaged with your brand
Spending high dollar amounts
Repeat purchasers on a regular basis
MOBILE COMMERCE IS A CONTINUOUS PROCESS
Many B2B organizations look at pivoting into mobile commerce as a complicated process for both the business and technology side, as there are many approaches and options. This is true, but broken into phases and working with each pillar of your organization, it can be a smooth journey. The key is not to emulate a B2C environment or even create something completely new, but to maintain your B2B heritage while coupling B2C processes and solutions to add multiple points of value to all constituents. Digital transformation isn’t a single event; it is a continuous process of maturity which will allow you to create innovative new models, such as mobile commerce or expanding upon your current mobile commerce offering. Continuous innovation and optimization are constants.
MOBILE COMMERCE PRIORITIES
Talking to several B2B executives within various industries, they echoed the same comment, “Automating sales processes and utilizing mobile to some extent is a key part of our overarching business strategy as it makes it easier for reps to sell more and customers to buy more.” All of these executives work at companies sitting in different stages of digital maturity; one with an unresponsive customer commerce site in the initial phase to move to responsive, another with an app for field sales to utilize in the order process, and yet another utilizing a fully responsive site for their customers and sales reps. The reasons to create a mobile app or responsive website, or perhaps both, depends on the digital maturity of the company and their roadmap. However, three priorities remain constant in all these executives’ mobile strategies:
1. Ensure Fast and Frictionless User Experiences
Start by thinking of your mobile experience before desktop, because mobile is where the majority of your customers are. Both desktop and mobile sites should leverage responsive design that minimizes clicks to any given path for all potential personas. For example, a customer that is sitting in a meeting can quickly click to check on a current order status or place a re-order of the same products from two months ago. Or consider the journey a field sales rep takes to put in a new account, get credit approval, and then show them upsell products.
2. Create Uber-Personalized Content
Think of your mobile site or app as a direct connection your customer since the calls and emails will become less frequent. You can open a whole new digital marketing strategy by thinking this way. For example, if you have an app, leverage the ability to send push notifications when a customer would normally be getting low on product or a promotion is available. On responsive mobile commerce sites, when a customer logs in, be showing them smart upsell options based on their past purchases. Dive even deeper and understand not only the company you are servicing, but if you service multiple titles within that company, create experiences specific to their requirements.
3. Clean Back Office Integrations
Your commerce platform cannot work in insolation to your back-office tools. Being able to integrate with your systems like accounting, ERP, OMS, and CRM to automate syncing information like orders, customers, pricing, and inventory between systems will minimize the change for errors, improve scalability, and manually entering all that data. By ensuring your commerce platform is able to integrate with your existing backend systems easily with robust APIs and off-the-shelf extensions, that will save a lot of headaches and speed your mobile commerce site or app time to market.
Your mobile commerce strategy plays an important part in successfully moving forward with your digital journey to allow you to achieve the success your company strives for. With over 50% of B2B search queries being made on smartphones today, being able to chart a course for tactical execution, mitigate the risk of channel conflict, and understand emerging trends in mobile is the groundwork to digitally mature and a competitive advantage.
About Kali Kasprzyk and Echidna
Kali Kasprzyk is the Director of Marketing at Echidna. She has been published in The Huffington Post on the topic of digital commerce and continues to write for various industry publications. Echidna is a leading digital systems agency led by experienced commerce professionals focused on helping enterprises evolve their Digital Commerce journey and maturity. Echidna focuses on the Consumerism of B2B with clients to guide them to maintain their B2B heritage while coupling B2C processes and solutions to add multiple points of value to all constituents.