Written by Jason Illg, | May 08, 2017
If you’re a B2B2B business (one that sells to businesses that ultimately sell to other businesses), you likely still rely on traditional methods to facilitate a sale. You probably conduct transactions over the phone or by fax, rely on your sales reps to complete orders and have little to no visibility into the needs or desires of your end customers. And if this is the case, you’re not alone. The B2B2B sales process is so complex that before now, traditional sales methods were the only way to get the job done.
But the good news is that the digitization of B2B2B commerce is transforming the historically complicated process into a more convenient, easy-to-use experience for buyers and a more profitable path to purchase for sellers.
For a farmer who lives miles from town and works long hours in the field, the digitization of B2B2B commerce can alleviate many purchasing pain points and inefficiencies. Instead of purchasing seed in a physical store, the farmer can now purchase seed directly from a dealer through a mobile device. The dealer can then use the digital commerce platform to submit orders and facilitate transactions electronically, removing the need to fax orders to the supplier. Robust commerce sites built on the cloud can help automate the entire B2B2B ecosystem, enhancing efficiencies, minimizing errors, and lowering resource costs for sales reps.
And for the first time in 50 years, the average age of farmers is going down. But farming isn’t the only industry where millennials will soon run the show. This new era of business buyers expect to buy online with the same convenience and flexibility they get in their personal lives. They’ll remain loyal to sellers that offer them convenient, on-demand digital buying experiences.
Here is a closer look at the benefits digital commerce offers for B2B2B businesses:
- Greater visibility into end customer: In a typical offline B2B2B sales model, the distributor manages the end customer relationship while the manufacturer has little visibility. But with a robust commerce site, manufacturers can gain customer insight and help their distributor and dealer partners manage inventory, track abandoned shopping carts or determine where most revenue is coming from. This data allows both the manufacturer and distributor to provide better customer service and guide buyers to make smarter purchasing decisions with ease.
This transparency benefits all three parties involved. The manufacturer gains valuable insight into the customer and garners stronger loyalty from dealers and distributors by helping them drive sales. The dealer can leverage the manufacturer’s commerce solution and doesn’t risk losing customers going directly to the manufacturer or a competitor on Amazon. And the key winner is the customer. They get a B2C-like experience in a localized, personalized partnership with their friendly dealer.
- Better data analytics for inventory management: Traditional offline sales models make it difficult for distributors and manufacturers to collect data and predict trends that will guide inventory management decisions.
With a cloud-based commerce site, manufacturers can spot trends in sales to effectively manage inventory and recommend the right products to the distributor, while the distributor still owns the customer relationship. A commerce platform that leverages predictive analytics through Salesforce Einstein or another artificial intelligence engine allows manufacturers to forecast demand and target key demographics more effectively. So if farmers in Wisconsin are buying more of a certain product than those in neighboring states, distributors can reallocate their inventory to focus on that region and drive more sales.
- Streamlined processes: Another benefit of digitization is streamlined processes. Empowering a traditionally offline industry with digital commerce ultimately leads to increased buyer loyalty and reduced overhead costs.
Cloud-based B2B commerce sites offer customized mobile solutions that allow distributors to make accurate, on-the-go orders with ease. The mobile app provides a streamlined path to purchase, eliminating the need for multiple steps, phone calls or fax machines to place an order. This benefits the manufacturers too, as it reduces the costs associated with sales reps or call centers.
Facilitating B2B2B sales doesn’t need to be a hassle. Cloud-based solutions offer a variety of capabilities that simplify the buying experience and drive increased revenue, while offering the complex B2B2B ordering and purchasing features customers need like subscriptions, buy-on-behalf of, tiered or custom authorization levels and more. These solutions also provide the data, 360-degree view of customers and streamlined processes that make it easier for manufacturers to predict production levels and maintain loyal relationships with distributors – all while maximizing sales with the end customer.