Over the past couple of years, society has experienced a pronounced shift in the way people work, live, buy and sell. The resulting changes in consumer behaviour has led to fundamental transformation in the way B2B companies do business.
B2B sales cycles are complex and expenses are highly scrutinised, which means buyers take their time with due diligence and vendor selection. B2B sellers have been slow to embrace a digitally optimised sales process. But then, as a matter of survival, with the advent of technological innovation, changing consumer mindset and the onset of the pandemic, B2B sales teams had to trade their tried-and-true practises of hand holding their customers for unfamiliar strategies tailored to a new business environment.
Given the unique challenges faced in Food and Beverage eCommerce, both businesses and consumers felt comfortable buying and selling the traditional way. However, during the last two years the industry has significantly changed its working pattern. According to Statista, the size of the F&B industry in the GCC is currently at $34.1bn and a report by Forrester suggests B2B e-commerce is estimated to hit $1.8 trillion by 2023.
Today, what consumers are looking for from the food and beverage industry is very different from pre-pandemic times, and these new expectations are here to stay beyond 2022. As a B2B seller, the best way to distinguish yourself from your competitors and keep customers for the long haul, is to provide easy and seamless shopping experiences that make the customers’ jobs easier.
Now that the digital transformation initiatives by the UAE government and the pandemic have accelerated the shift by B2B companies further into ecommerce, businesses must reach the next level of digital commerce success. As a Co-founder & CEO of SupplyMe, I’ll share tips and advice for young entrepreneurs to adopt in order to be ahead of the game.
Offer rich product content
With the prevalence of the digital world, the ready availability of quality information through digital channels has made it far easier for buyers to gather information independently, which means sellers have less access and fewer opportunities to influence customer decisions. A report by Gartner revealed B2B buyers, when considering a purchase, spend only 17% of time meeting with potential suppliers and the amount of time spent with anyone sales rep maybe only 5% or 6%.
Providing strong visual aids such as imagery and product information on the website should be a critical component of any omni-channel commerce strategy. Brands who rich product content can see conversions increase by up to 32%.
Optimise the website for self-service
In the past, self-service was looked down upon as it meant forcing customers to perform tasks on their own without the information and support they needed. From digital banking to booking reservations, people were easily frustrated by complex processes and a lack of reliable human assistance. Today, on the other hand, customers are opting for self-service as it empowers them with convenience, control, and confidence.
A Zendesk study shows that 81% of customers try to take care of their own problems before reaching out to support channels. This situation highlights the importance of automation for great customer experiences. In 2022 and beyond, self-service will become much more mainstream. By making the product information easily available on the platform and purchasing methods clear, B2B companies can provide a seamless shopping experience that mimics the B2C buying experience that B2B buyers are craving for.
One of the biggest advantages of digital commerce is the ability to offer 24/7 self-service. This allows shoppers to place their orders on their own schedule.
Consider online marketplaces as part of your strategy
B2B marketplaces for various industries are witnessing rapid growth and companies from the B2B sector are increasingly relying on these marketplaces to further enhance their market position, increase their reach and sales, attract new customers, enter new territories.
64% of B2B buyers now place more importance on experience than price, whilst 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
Service continues to play a decisive role in the B2B sector. B2B customers want solution providers to know their needs and pain points and meet them with the right product and excellent service. This can be easily achieved via a B2B marketplace. Sales to customer interactions and from fulfilment to order delivery, B2B marketplaces acts as an interface and allows vendors in the industry to effectively list their products, have easy access to all sales related activities, provide the flexibility to run promotions, create flexible pricing models and most importantly provide a secure platform to manage transactions and payments easily and with less paperwork.
SupplyMe, an online marketplace for the F&B industry provides businesses with an instant overview of market offerings, greater product choice and a better customer experience, without the constraints of warehousing and logistics, thus simplifying the shopping process and relying on competitive pricing and on-time delivery to meet their business needs.
Effective B2B selling is about understanding your customers’ problems and solving them before they ask you to. B2B sellers must work to understand their customers’ entire buying process and solve their biggest challenges along the way.