Omnichannel B2B eCommerce: Trends, Challenges & Benefits

Providing omnichannel B2B eCommerce experiences is no longer an option. It’s official: B2B buyers expect a seamless, consistent user experience across as many as ten channels, on average.

And meeting customers’ expectations pays off: 72% of B2B businesses that sell via 7+ channels grow their market shares. In contrast, 80% of buyers will look to switch the supplier if they can’t purchase from any channel.

However, implementing omnichannel B2B eCommerce isn’t only about meeting customer expectations. Creating a seamless experience across channels also helps increase the brand’s reach and visibility, personalize customer service, and streamline operations.

At Atwix, we’re well-versed in providing B2B eCommerce services to help businesses stay ahead of the competition with high-performance, customer-centric B2B eCommerce solutions. Here’s what we’d like to share with you today on omnichannel B2B eCommerce, from trends and benefits to challenges and implementation steps.

Omnichannel B2B eCommerce illustration

5 Omnichannel B2B Commerce Trends to Watch

Let’s start by breaking down the five trends that shape the omnichannel B2B eCommerce of today.

Unifying CX across all channels

Due to the pandemic, there’s been a shift to digital interactions. Two-thirds of B2B customers choose to interact with B2B sales reps remotely or use digital self-service tools.

And they expect consistency across those channels. 80% of B2B customers will look for a different supplier if they can’t purchase from any channel. The same share of buyers will switch sellers if they don’t have a consistent experience across channels.

A comprehensive B2B eCommerce solution consolidates all customer data in one place and updates it in real time. It can also deliver a 360-degree customer view for every buyer, allowing for better targeting and omnichannel marketing.

Increasing reach and visibility

A B2B customer now uses ten or more channels during their decision journey, on average. An omnichannel strategy can ensure your presence across those channels, improving your brand’s visibility and reach.

B2B buyers use 10 channels on average during the customer journey, up from 5 in 2016

Among those channels, email, phone, in-person, and website remain the usual suspects. To those, you should now also add the mobile app, video conferencing, live chat, and web search.

Your eCommerce website should also be mobile-friendly. Almost half of all eCommerce purchases (42.9%) are expected to be made via mobile devices.

Personalizing customer service

While the shift to digital channels is evident, that doesn’t mean human interaction is no longer important to customers. Over three-quarters of customers say they expect to meet with a sales rep monthly, be it in-person or remotely.

That’s why real-time, always-on customer service is a must-do for B2B companies. 80% of customers will look elsewhere if customer service isn’t always available and responsive. At the same time, they expect a personal touch from customer service.

Streamlining operations

Improving efficiency isn’t crucial just for suppliers to optimize their costs and increase profit – it’s a top priority for B2B customers, as well.

Omnichannel B2B commerce allows suppliers to streamline account and supply chain management, account-based marketing, and product information management. For buyers, efficiency can mean self-service digital buying options, new digital touchpoints (e.g., video conferencing with sales reps), and viewing product availability and pricing online.

Improving cost-efficiency

Cost-efficiency is in the cross-hairs of any business, and B2B suppliers are no exception. Today, the pressure on businesses to reduce costs is only mounting. Inflation is on the rise across the globe. Market turbulence is forcing businesses to rethink their resilience and cost structures.

Omnichannel eCommerce allows to achieve the said cost-efficiency by streamlining operations and simplifying IT estate maintenance.

5 Benefits of B2B Omnichannel eCommerce

What do you stand to achieve with an omnichannel B2B eCommerce strategy? Here are the five benefits to consider.

Increased sales and revenue

B2B customers are ready to spend more online: the pandemic drove the share of those willing to spend over $500,000 from 27% to 35% within less than a year. At the same time, the share of customers comfortable with an eCommerce order value of under $50,000 shrank from 34% to 23%.

According to Avionos, 87% of B2B customers are willing to pay more to a supplier with an excellent eCommerce portal. That represents a 20% increase compared to the pre-pandemic levels.

Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty

If the supplier’s digital channels don’t keep up with customers’ needs, 85% of buyers are ready to switch suppliers. This makes an omnichannel B2B сommerce strategy a must for retaining existing customers.

At the same time, B2B omnichannel solutions set the foundation for highly personalized customer experiences and B2B omnichannel marketing. Those, in turn, improve customer satisfaction. Personalized recommendations, for instance, are 5.3 times better in eCommerce channels than offline channels.

How B2B companies make their digital channels more appealing to buyers

Increased operational efficiency

Post-pandemic, B2B companies can attest that the shift to omnichannel was the right move to streamline operations. In 2021, 74% of B2B businesses confirmed the omnichannel sales model was more effective than its traditional counterpart – up from just 34% in 2020.

Omnichannel B2B eCommerce effectiveness, according to suppliers

For example, a B2B omnichannel solution automatically syncs customer data, removing the need for manual labor to update the database. At the same time, self-service digital tools remove some of the lower-priority workload for sales reps, allowing them to focus on more value-added tasks.

Reduced costs

Improving operational efficiency leads to another benefit: reduced operational costs. With partial or full process automation, B2B suppliers can direct their human resources to tasks that maximize value for the business.

An omnichannel solution also removes the need for multiple disparate legacy systems. So, instead of maintaining all of them, you need to invest in supporting only one solution. Combined with headless architecture and cloud-based infrastructure, such a solution is a more cost-efficient and future-proof option in the long run.

Competitive advantage

B2B customers don’t just appreciate suppliers that continuously innovate. 94% of them actively seek out companies that evolve and experiment with their technology solutions. And higher personalization leads to an increased market share according to McKinsey.

At the same time, competition is strong. B2B sellers are more likely to offer eCommerce channels than any other channel, surpassing even in-person sales.

With the majority of B2B suppliers already offering eCommerce capabilities, you need to go beyond standard solutions to truly stand out. This can include using AI-powered personalization-at-scale solutions, virtual product demos, and personalized recommendations.

How to Get Started with Omnichannel B2B eCommerce

Ready to go omnichannel in your B2B eCommerce operations? Here are five steps to get you started.

5 steps to implement omnichannel B2B eCommerce

Assess your current business operations

Before you can map out your journey to the desired state, you need to understand what your departure point looks like. To that end, assess:

  • What channels your customers are already using
  • How these channels interact with one another
  • How you collect, organize, and store online and offline customer and order data
  • How you manage channel conflicts (if you do)
  • What makes customer service, sales, and order management processes less efficient

Identify your target audience and their needs

Your omnichannel B2B strategy has to be customer-centric to succeed. That’s why you need to do your research on existing and intended customers to pinpoint:

  • Preferred channels, depending on the segment and customer journey stage
  • Customer pain points and needs (e.g., performance guarantees, real-time customer service)
  • Causes for customer dissatisfaction (e.g., slow website performance, information inconsistency across channels)
  • Must-have features for customers (e.g., 360-degree product viewing, pricing and product availability shown online)

You can do this research by reviewing transaction and interaction logs, as well as customer feedback.

Choose the right omnichannel B2B commerce platform

If your current eCommerce platform doesn’t have omnichannel capabilities out of the box, you may need to add them manually. Or, you may choose to migrate to another platform.

If migration is in order, consider Magento/Adobe Commerce. Available as an open-source solution, Magento comes with a full range of omnichannel features.

Magento is an API-led platform, which allows for unlimited and secure custom integrations. It also comes with pre-built integrations for social commerce and marketplaces. Plus, it supports real-time inventory tracking and multi-currency sales.

Implement your omnichannel B2B eCommerce strategy

To put the platform in place and implement your strategy, you’ll need solid technical expertise. If you don’t have it in-house, this means turning to a service vendor.

To select a reliable partner for your needs:

  • Ask for references from former clients
  • Opt for companies that have experience working on similar projects
  • Verify the company’s reputation on review platforms like Clutch
  • Analyze the company’s pre-sales process to gauge their communication skills, transparency, and client-centricity

Keep in mind that implementation doesn’t span only the technical side of integrating a solution. You will probably need to overhaul your teams’ workflows, as well. Plus, you’ll need to proactively manage resistance to change and channel conflicts within your organization.

Monitor and measure your results

The right key performance indicators are crucial for understanding whether your efforts succeeded – or fell short. We advise using the following metrics to monitor omnichannel customer experience:

  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Net promoter score
  • Customer loyalty index
  • Average order value
  • Customer lifecycle value
  • Churn rate

3 Challenges of Omnichannel B2B eCommerce

Implementing an efficient omnichannel eCommerce solution may prove to be a tough feat for some B2B businesses due to:

  • Disorganized data. Connecting online and offline data is already challenging. But it’s even more difficult if the data lacks standardization and unique identifiers.
  • Lack of inventory visibility. Stock levels should be tracked across all locations. It should also be automatically synced in real-time to make omnichannel possible. In-transit inventory should also be visible and trackable.
  • Channel conflicts. This issue arises when different teams want to prioritize different channels or when information across channels is inconsistent. Two-thirds of B2B sellers encounter this challenge.

Overcoming these challenges requires solid expertise in eCommerce development, B2B operations, and omnichannel solutions. So, if you plan to partner up with a service vendor, you need to make sure they possess the required skills and experience.

Considering omnichannel e-commerce for your business?

Reach out to Atwix today and find out how our solutions can help you

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How Atwix Helps Ace Omnichannel B2B eCommerce

As a full-service B2B and B2C eCommerce company, we’ve helped multiple B2B companies launch comprehensive B2B eCommerce solutions and overcome their biggest challenges.

For example, we helped Comdiel, a Chilean B2B telecom and IT equipment seller, migrate their eCommerce platform to Magento as their sales started growing. After performing an audit, we improved the website’s performance and introduced changes to the user experience based on customer feedback.

Another client of ours, Byrne Electrical Specialists, turned to Atwix with a request to help launch their B2B Magento portal. Despite a tight timeframe of only 8 weeks, we delivered the portal with an ERP system integration, 360-degree product view, and seamless order management flow.

Customers found the new portal to be a time-saver. In the words of one, “What used to take a week now takes two hours.”

Want to learn more about our experience in B2B eCommerce? Browse our case studies to discover our services in action.

How B2B companies make their digital channels more appealing to buyers

The Bottom Line

Implementing omnichannel B2B eCommerce is a must if you want to keep up with customer expectations. In addition to increasing sales and improving customer satisfaction, an omnichannel eCommerce solution will also boost your operational efficiency, reduce costs, and gain a competitive edge.

However, going omnichannel in B2B eCommerce isn’t without its challenges. To navigate those challenges, you may want to partner with an experienced, reliable omnichannel B2B eCommerce service vendor.
So, do you need an expert hand in making your omnichannel B2B eCommerce aspirations a reality? We at Atwix would be happy to help you implement your omnichannel eCommerce strategy with minimum disruptions. Contact us to discuss how our expertise can help you achieve your business goals.