B2B sellers moving online need to keep the customer happy, but according to a new report by CloudCraze, there’s a disconnect between what customers want and what sellers can provide. The problem, the company’s white paper declared, is a continuing dependence among B2B eCommerce companies on manual tools, such as faxes and sales representatives.
A survey of nearly 200 sellers with an online presence found that, while B2B sellers are feeling the pressure to offer a digital sales experience to their corporate customers, they haven’t quite yet caught up to that demand because they are struggling to invest in solutions that can get them to where they need to be.
Analysis of the survey revealed several key trends in how B2B sellers struggle to match their buyers’ expectations. For instance, the company found that sellers aren’t taking advantage of data.
“Unfortunately,” CloudCraze said in its paper, “most still fail to integrate customer data with commerce technology and experience a gap between what they’re able to offer and what today’s business buyer demands.”
Only 27 percent of the B2B companies surveyed said they have a tool that integrates data between their CRM and commerce systems.
Across the board, B2B sellers are struggling to deploy more sophisticated technologies; only 14 percent of those surveyed said they have a fully implemented digital commerce system, with about two-thirds saying it’s been at least two years since they’ve updated their systems.
Then there are more abstract trends identified by CloudCraze that may be more difficult to solve.
For example, 90 percent of companies surveyed said they connect their sales and commerce portals together. While that is certainly better than no integration at all, CloudCraze concluded that these businesses approach commerce as a supplement to their existing sales teams — and not a replacement of them.
One of the largest obstacles that online B2B sellers face today is access to and deployment of solutions that can support payment issues, which tend to be more complex than B2C eCommerce. According to CloudCraze, corporate buyers have payments on their mind when considering their online procurement experience. More than half (52 percent) said that convenient payment processes are their top priority, the second highest identified, just behind mobile access to a seller’s commerce platform.
Other payment priorities identified by corporate buyers include the ability to pay in advance and support their own customer payment needs.
According to the paper, these statistics represent just how difficult it is for B2B sellers looking to go online to offer their corporate customers the ease of eCommerce they expect in their B2C lives.
“B2B respondents say their buyers prioritize customized pricing, advanced payment features and connections with sales representatives significantly more so than B2C respondents,” summarized CloudCraze. “For some features, B2B respondents were nearly twice as likely to label them important to customers. This gap makes sense as B2B commerce transactions are much more complicated, a fact that B2B organizations must keep in mind when selecting their solution.”
But less than half of the B2B firms surveyed said their current commerce solution supports key features like contract pricing or customizable payment options.
What They’re Missing
According to CloudCraze analysis, nearly a third of B2B companies have missed out on sales worth a collective $2 million because the eCommerce experience they offer does not adequately address their customers’ pain points. More than a third of firms said they have lost out on a business deal because their existing commerce platform doesn’t support features like promotional discounts or mobile payments — with 39 percent noting that their solution didn’t support something as simple as order documentation that led to a missed sale.
Other issues for their buyers include a lack of visibility into inventory, too many steps in the ordering process and a lack of omnichannel support.
But with all of the money these companies are missing out on, they still struggle to upgrade their commerce systems. More than half of B2B sellers said the cost to deploy a new technology is their greatest pain point in solving many of the top obstacles of their own corporate buyers. Further, 44 percent said their business lacks a desire or willingness to innovate and take a new approach to digital, omnichannel commerce.
“Given the pain points and challenges outlined above,” the paper concluded, “it’s clear B2B brands know what it takes to improve their online presence, yet most are still struggling to prioritize investments in the adequate technology.”