As research, data, and experience has shown how the emergence of COVID-19 in Q1 of 2020, customer behaviors shifted significantly—and that was no different for B2B companies. While digital transformation was emergent prior to the pandemic, it became necessary for companies to transform faster than ever before. And as businesses think about the future, they must understand that omnichannel ecommerce offerings (when customers have the option to buy in-person, remotely, and/or online) will be an important part of the sales strategy.
In a survey published in December 2021 by McKinsey & Company, research showed that “Ninety-four percent of respondents view today’s B2B omnichannel reality—in which customers buy face-to-face, remotely, and online—as being as effective or more than before COVID-19.” And furthermore, B2B customers are now using twice as many channels to interact with supplies than they were using five years ago. That is somewhat due to the increase in the amount of companies offering these online buying channes. By the numbers, buyers are using almost an even mix of traditional (face-to-face) interactions, remote human interactions, and digital self-serve platforms.
Some companies may wonder about the effectiveness of offering multiple way fort their customers to make purchases. The McKinsey survey results found that 94 percent of B2B decision makers said that the new omnichannel sales model is as effective or more compared to the sales model they used before the pandemic. Data collected also showed that for the first time, B2B sellers are actually more likely to offer ecommerce options that in-person selling.
As the omnichannel selling/buying experience increases in popularity, companies will also need to have internal team members in place who can educate customers on different options to purchase along their journey. Because every person and every business have various preferences on how they like to make purchases, it will continue to be important to offer options. Brand loyalty relies on meeting customer needs, which can include issues like customer service reliability, transparency about product availability when buying online, as well as insight into pricing. Other factors that are almost as important include the ability to place mobile orders, access to customer reviews, and loyalty program or other rewards. Innovation and adaptability are essential when creating your omnichannel customer experience.
While offering options to buy online, maintaining personal relationships is still of significant importance. Oftentimes, buyers will want to meet more frequently with their suppliers as their relationship depth increases from transactional to more personal and in-depth. If a sales representative hasn’t met a customer in person yet, it should be a priority to do so to begin building trust and familiarity in the relationship.
For the complete article, visit McKinsey & Company.
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