Just as train commuters can get off at any time at stops along their journey, businesses in today’s omnichannel environment similar have greater choice in choosing with whom to buy for their enterprise needs. Helping derail the traditional buyer-sellers relations include social distractions, competitive touchpoints, information validations and random diversions made even more possible through mobile devices.
So to win their business, a new report suggests, sellers must work hard to ensure their user experience is so good they will ignore the other distractions and choose them for their purchasing needs.
“In the traditional sales funnel (where many prospects funnel down to just a few closed sales), the product knowledge of the salesperson has traditionally trumped the buyer,” ShopVisible noted in the report “Trends in B2B Commerce: Navigating the Omnichannel Buy Journey.” “Information is spoon-fed to prospects in a prescribed manner as they are led down the funnel. Today, business buyers can be well-informed, or even more informed than B2B sales people, even before any top-funnel contact.”
However, potential buyers still want help, and those B2B sellers who can make their sales process more fluid will become the preferred guides along the buyers’ journey, according to the report.
Nonlinear buying path
Because “omnichannel knowledge acquisition” no longer is linear as it was before, engagement with business buyers can begin at different points. “Someone may jump straight from awareness to purchase if they are not inclined to do research or if they have a strong recommendation from a contact or online reviews, for example,” ShopVisible contends. “Or they may spend a long time slogging through iterations in a protracted research process.”
As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that online shopping card abandonment hit an industry average of 67.9 percent last year, according to the report.
With so many choices for buyers literally at the push of a button, B2B sellers must be “ultra responsible,” ShopVisible notes. “They just can’t tell [businesses] “you bought that online so you can’t return it here” or “that’s not my department.” In the omnichannel [business’] mind, every channel is part of the same department,” according to the report. “They expect everyone in the company to be able to serve them equally.”
Sellers failing to do so will face customers who simply will switch trains, the report notes. Their options are numerous, including Amazon Supply, marketplaces and ultra-niche brokers and sellers.
“With change as simple as a few keystrokes, switching costs are lower and geographical barriers have become all but meaningless,” ShopVisible noted.
For B2B sellers, the goal is to minimize the disruption and make it simpler for buyers to get back onboard with them, especially as they get closer to making their decision. And sellers should be ready to accommodate their needs, regardless of whether they came from their website, mobile app or in-store, according to the report, which suggests the best place to start connecting all of the different potential entry and exit points is through a true
Distributed Order Management System (OMS).
Whether stand-alone or integrated within a larger eCommerce platform, a best of breed OMS manages all orders end to end, including fulfillment, shipping, returns and customer communications. Each order, regardless of whether it originated on the B2B website, mobile site, comparison-shopping engine, in-store point of sale or elsewhere, it should managed in a single, unified way, the report emphasizes.
“The omnichannel consumer doesn’t see any of this, of course,” the report notes. “They just know that their buying journey has become so smooth that it becomes almost an afterthought.”