Digital commerce is, in the simplest terms, an update on the now-classic e-commerce (purchasing and selling online, generally via a website) model. Digital commerce is the act of purchasing items online without the assistance of a human. Digital commerce may prove to be a game-changer for business-to-business (B2B) enterprises that have historically depended on high-touch revenue models.
Defining Digital Commerce for B2B Companies
The most straightforward description of B2B eCommerce is an electronic transaction between two businesses that involves little human involvement in product search, choice, placing an order, payments, and shipment.
B2B businesses, like all other businesses, can take on a variety of shapes, sizes, and degrees of sophistication. They may include services such as accountancy, legal, and digital, as well as tangible goods like apparatus, machinery, and consumer products, among others. This makes B2B digital commerce a vast market.
After nearly two years of increased digital demand as a result of the pandemic, business operations have started reverting to more regular patterns. Yet, there are some commercial elements that will never return to “the norm.” One of these is digital B2B commerce.
Studies indicate that almost half (49%) of all B2B transactions are now conducted by means of digital channels.70% of B2B consumers have an open mind when it comes to carrying out digital, remote, or self-service transactions of more than $50,000, and 27% are ready to make buying decisions of over $500,000. This makes digital commerce a highly lucrative opportunity for B2B companies.
Types of B2B Digital Commerce
B2B digital commerce transactions can be of several types:
1. Wholesale transactions
Typically, businesses purchase goods in bulk for a reduced price and resell them at retail value; the products are bought straight from the producer or distributor. Utilizing a B2B e-commerce platform, every aspect is digitized in a wholesale e-commerce environment.
The platform facilitates the wholesaler’s product display and develops an effortless buying experience.
It is also possible to match large orders against inventory availability and provide a special digital storefront to businesses engaging in bulk purchases, different from B2C buyers purchasing similar items from the seller.
2. Manufacturing e-commerce
Utilizing sections and basic materials in conjunction with manual labor and the right equipment, manufacturers produce large quantities of finished products. In a B2B paradigm, finalized products are offered for sale to other manufacturers, wholesalers, or vendors.
In the same manner, as wholesalers, manufacturers are conducting business online. The automotive industry is a prime instance of B2B manufacturers. The manufacturer produces individual automobile components, such as gasoline pumps and engines. The manufacturer then sells the parts to an automaker, which assembles the vehicle from the components and offers it to the customer.
The digital commerce platform can be complex here, as it needs to showcase all the details of the manufactured equipment/product. The buyer has to be able to make an informed decision just by interacting with digital content assets.
3. Distributor or reseller partnerships
A manufacturer may collaborate with an agent – or distributor to offer their product. Interestingly, this also applies to B2B software products, where resellers work with large ISVs to procure, customize, deliver, and install software for business clients.
In this instance, the distributor collaborates extensively with the manufacturers to increase the visibility of the goods they produce in a bid to boost sales and move their goods across the supply chain.
In a digital commerce model, the sale’s logistics occur online, typically via an e-commerce platform, resulting in more development opportunities. Similar to other B2B scenarios, distributors are striving to minimize lead times and deliver an outstanding B2B consumer experience. They often add value to the original product in the form of customizations or discounts.
How Does Digital Commerce in B2B Work?
Traditionally, B2B transactions required laborious, manually operated sales and marketing operations. Through e-commerce automation, the launch of digital commerce aids these companies in reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Buyers and vendors can now interact in an integrated digital space, submitting and handling orders from their cell phones while establishing new opportunities for companies to build relationships with distributors and suppliers.
Digital commerce encompasses every aspect of a B2B buying decision. Typically, digital strategists map the end-to-end B2B consumer journey, regardless of product or service, and then calculate the significance of every single buying milestone. On this basis, B2B companies can build a digital commerce platform that provides buyers with an intuitive and utterly effortless shopping experience.
The many facets of digital commerce include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Promotional campaigns, content marketing, as well as social media interactions
- Catalogs of goods (descriptions, pictures, and additional media).
- Processing orders, supply chain administration, as well as reverse logistics
- Analytics and tracking of user experience
- Customer service, repair, and maintenance
As B2B commerce has expanded swiftly, several companies are establishing their own online shops to facilitate this transformation. Smaller businesses may rely on B2C commerce platforms like Shopify, but it’s preferable to use B2B platforms that have been created specifically for enterprises.
Benefits of B2B Digital Commerce
By adopting the digital commerce model, B2B organizations can:
1. Grow sales across multiple channels
The transition to digital requires that experiences be readily discoverable, SEO-friendly and mobile-ready is the absolute bare minimum. Numerous B2B companies intend to enter new markets and debut new, customized websites in various languages and currencies with location-specific ordering alternatives.
2. Save efforts through automation
The majority of B2B sales representatives waste time finding and inputting data instead of selling products. Therefore, they disregard key accounts and possibilities. By digitizing internal processes like pricing, ordering, as well as payment, you can save time as well as reduce the possibility of errors.
3. Personalize the B2B purchase experience
Even B2B customers expect a seamless ordering process right now. Personalized self-service websites with their own catalogs, prices, and shipping choices are included. Digital commerce may include access-based elements and limitations for multiple organizational stakeholders. This accelerates ordering cycles and processing, along with improving customer satisfaction and revenues.
4. Achieve business continuity and better integration
With the correct B2B digital commerce tools, you will be able to scale without fretting about performance problems or being forced to re-platform in the not-too-distant future. APIs can also eliminate data silos that exist between commerce platforms and expedite data-driven actions. You can configure the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), as well as Product Information Management (PIM) systems to synchronize with the B2B eCommerce portal.
5. Discover more cross-selling and upselling opportunities
With an accessible and available platform, B2B digital commerce is an excellent opportunity for up-selling and cross-selling to existing customers. Offering a customized experience is one of the most successful techniques for retaining customers. Personalization in the B2B sector may involve customized quotes, discounts, and shipping rates, as well as mobile purchasing and self-service functions.
6. Act on B2B customer intelligence
A significant advantage when operating a digital commerce website is the ability to monitor consumer behavior as they purchase. You will be able to determine which aspects of what you’re doing have been successful and which ones are not working, enabling you to make more informed decisions. As an increasing number of B2B companies adopt digital transformation, data analytics has become a vital tool for enhancing the customer experience as a whole.
Digital commerce has been extolled for years as the next big thing for business-to-business sales.
60% of B2B companies possessed zero or minimal e-commerce capacities at the outset of COVID-19. Google reports that as of February 2022, 65% of B2B companies will offer digital commerce capabilities. And, to further expand this space, 73% of B2B consumers seek business-to-consumer or B2C-like experiences today – and digital commerce for B2B is an essential enabler in achieving this goal. Not only does it add to your online presence, but it opens up new opportunities like lucrative B2B sales events by using e-commerce tools and strategies.