In the 21st century, the web is king. Not having a web presence is a serious disadvantage to your business. Gone are the days when you could put your head in the sand and not embrace technological change. The internet is here to stay and has greatly affected everyday life, and for business, a strong web strategy needs to be in place to exploit the opportunities provided by being online. But while consumer e-commerce sites are very much the norm, business-to-business (B2B) operations have been slower to start selling online, preferring their tried and tested methods of selling to their wholesalers and retailers.
In January 2014 the British Retail Consortium reported that:
- In the previous month, nearly one in five non-food items was purchased online; and
- There was a 19.2% growth in internet purchases from a year earlier, the fastest increase in four years.
According to Forrester, Europe’s online retail sales are projected to hit €191 billion by 2017, up from €128 billion in 2013 – a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5%.
Those B2B companies that invest in online selling are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities; those without are likely to stagnate. The survey concluded that “Retail sales growth is being driven by the click of a mouse, rather than the ring of the tills”.
B2B e-commerce is so much more than selling to your customers. Whilst this is clearly an advantage, it also liberates your company from the constraints of over-reliance on third-party distributors. Having a fully integrated e-commerce solution allows you to take control of your business.
The benefits of a B2B e-commerce system
- Self-service account management
This feature provides a channel for your customers to order directly from you. They are able to view previous orders and can administer their own accounts. Effectively, you will be looking after your customers better – by providing them with an enhanced service – but without having to actually do anything. The system will do it all for you.
If your customers are large businesses running ERP systems such as SAP Business One and NetSuite, a good e-commerce solution will link to it, allowing them to place orders with you directly through their purchasing system. This not only helps them, but also helps you, freeing up admin tasks and allowing you to concentrate on what you should be doing: getting your product to your consumers.
- Direct sales
Whilst you have invested in your retailer or distributor, having an online presence provides the opportunity to sell to your customers direct. And whilst you won’t want to disrupt your supply chain, having the potential to sell directly to consumers opens up another route to market for you, and provides a better way for your customers to link directly to you.
The future is most definitely online, and developing your online presence with a product that is compatible with current market-leading ERP software like SAP Business One and NetSuite will allow you to look after your customer better without actually having to do any more.
Balloon One helps distributor businesses to exploit their sales potential to its maximum. We offer fully configurable e-commerce solutions that save distribution companies time and give them the detailed knowledge of their company that will help them to generate greater revenue.
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