COVID-19 has played a key role in the implementation of fast-tracking ecommerce in the B2B industry. With private sales suddenly shutting down in 2020, the demand for product purchases has not escaped a beat and online sales have skyrocketed. Those who do not have e-commerce sites have lost revenue, relevance and the opportunity to engage with their customers.
Fast forward to two years later and B2B companies still face challenges. Third-party marketplaces have pushed their way, snatching valuable market share from distributors, and popular tools and technologies in the retail space are now being sought by B2B buyers. But companies are taking steps to keep up with mounting competition and customer expectations by implementing strategies that improve efficiency, attract more buyers and increase sales. In 2022, small to medium sized distributors cannot remain idle during market development.
In the first of our three-part blog series, we review one of the top trends driving success in this year’s wholesale distribution market with tools to support this effort.
Trend # 1: Quick e-commerce implementation in the market for fast time
About two-thirds of B2B companies today have e-commerce capabilities. McKinsey & Company’s Global B2B Pulse Survey reports that number has increased by 53% since the beginning of 2021. This increase in site implementation is a result of ongoing demand for more convenient buying options. Businesses are listening to their customers and, for the first time, McKinsey reports, B2B sellers are pushing for e-commerce sales rather than personal sales.
However, with distributors adding a digital branch to their sales channel, some have experienced slower than expected ecommerce implementation. Unilever’s own B2B digital commerce report found that 51% of distributor sites took more than nine months to complete. Missing nine months without a transaction site can amount to thousands of dollars in revenue.
The reasons for the long implementation can fall on both the distributor and the ecommerce provider. Without reasonable expectations, without a clear project opportunity and agreed timeline, responsibilities become blurred, both sides lose focus, and as a result, project milestones are missed. A gold-standard ecommerce site is not required to get out of the wholesale organization. It is much more convenient to start a site with critical functionality and features first and build it from there. Once the foundation site goes live, integration with more advanced offers such as chatbots, custom tools and various online marketplaces can be added.
Lack of system integration with ERP can also lead to implementation backlash. This key component to e-commerce success can be complex for technology providers who use distributors to run their organizations unfamiliar with the array of ERP systems. Connecting an eCommerce platform with ERP solutions requires a deep set of skills and application programming interfaces (APIs). Without a seamless ERP integration, companies cannot display the price and availability of real-time products or provide accurate customer information on their websites.
Another reason custom sites are run on implementation project schedules. Sometimes under the direction of a distributor, and at other times ecommerce providers, they are interested in creating a website from the ground up. A more logical way to implement e-commerce is to use a proven B2B site architecture that is familiar to buyers and pre-built with industry-specific tools and customer-required features. Unilog did just that. Through years of testing and direct B2B experience, we have built a solid site architecture and design that incorporates the requirements and best practices of the B2B industry. The result is a simple-to-execute e-commerce model that provides fast site implementation without sacrificing functionality, usability and design. We call it the GO eCommerce implementation program and it is a game changer for small to medium market businesses.
Powerful, affordable and easy to use, Unilever’s cloud-based eCommerce platform features a user-friendly interface to wholesale distributors, a fully branded website with intuitive browsing and search tools, an advanced shopping cart with multiple payment options and efficient account management and self-service features. . We integrate our platform with virtually any ERP and incorporate our own Product Information Management (PIM) tool for an integrated shopping experience across sales channels. Our fast-paced GO program makes businesses live faster so they can start reaping the benefits of a digital branch.
If you want to start a digital branch for your customers and talk to Unilever’s ecommerce expert. We will review your digital commerce needs, demonstrate our products, and share our roadmap for the success of ecommerce implementation.
Don’t miss the next blog post in our series where we’ll cover a trend that focuses on wholesale distribution customers and provide seven strategies to attract and retain them.