There’s no doubt about it — e-commerce is the future of shopping. According to recent statistics, e-commerce accounts for some 14% of the world’s retail sales with an estimated 1.92 billion digital buyers in the year 2019. That’s approximately one-fourth of the entire human population on Earth when we put things into perspective.
But, what does this all mean for big manufacturing giants? Can technical and industrial B2B businesses — with their huge gadgets and machinery — thrive with this new business model?
The short answer — yes!
For a more extensive look into the whole matter, we present you with 5 reasons why B2B industrial businesses are shifting their focus to e-commerce; keep on reading to find out what these are.
1. There’s a Growing Demand for E-Commerce
It’s no great secret — customers, nowadays, prefer to shop online; the vast majority at least. It’s faster, more efficient, and a lot cheaper than going to brick-and-mortars. This shift in consumer mentality is especially noticeable with the new millennial generation. Online shopping gives them exactly what they want — more purchasing power; the decision-making process is a lot easier without the added pressure of a sales representative breathing down your neck. What’s more, you’re not limited by time, there are no queues, and the online shop is available 24/7. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that, according to Statista, 67% of millennials and 56% of gen-Xers prefer explicitly this type of shopping.
2. Keeping up with the Competition
In the world of business (B2B or otherwise) one thing stands at the forefront — innovation. Refusing to follow new trends and discoveries is no less than marketing suicide. The fact of the matter is: big industrial businesses have already entered the e-commerce arena. Today, you can even get your hands on precisely calibrated tools and high quality tubulars on online B2B platforms.
Overall, failing to adapt to these changes means falling behind the competition (big time). Whether you like it or not, e-commerce is here to stay. Therefore, you can either ride the current or fight it; the choice is clear.
3. New Growth Opportunities
As 2019 reaches its final quarter, e-commerce sales continue to mount at an astounding rate. According to eMarketer, by the end of 2019 e-commerce sales will rise by another 20.7% to a total of $3.5 trillion in sales. By 2021, this number is expected to be in the $5 trillion range; absolutely insane.
Now, B2B businesses that are not already engaged in e-commerce will miss this one-of-a-kind growth opportunity and remain stagnant — hence why more and more B2B businesses are flocking to this new e-commerce model.
4. Better Online Presence
The Internet has forever changed the way we go about our shopping. No matter whether you prefer online or offline shopping, your customer journey most probably looks something like this:
- Rising interest in a certain product or service.
- Getting the urge to ‘Google’ the said product (first).
- Conducting meticulous research and then comparing the product with other similar items.
- Inspecting reviews and opinions on social media and other relevant platforms.
- Making that final purchasing decision.
As you can see from the example above, even if you are a brick-and-mortar establishment — in this day and age — having a substantial online presence is vital. With e-commerce, this is pretty much assured. Due to your e-commerce platform and product pages, your business will appear in search engines more often; in other words, it will be more visible on the Internet. As a result, customers will stumble upon your brand organically and not just by direct searches, effectively expanding your reach in the process.
5. More Personalization
In the past, it was considered that online shopping could not compete with the personal touch of a live sales representative. This is no longer the case. What seemed an impossible task (back then) is now done by customer service representatives via live chat, smart chatbots, and targeted messages.
Thanks to the rise of AI and machine learning, e-commerce platforms can now recommend products to customers that fit their profile based on their purchase history and browsed items alone. What’s more, you can receive automated messages with detailed information of your transactions as well as the expected time and date of your delivery. In some cases, you can even track your delivery as it reaches you in real-time with frequent status updates and announcements; definitely better than sitting on your hands and hoping for the best.
Judging by its popularity — e-commerce is here to stay; at least for a (long) while. Companies, both big and small, that manage to harness the awesome power of this relatively recent technology will set themselves up for success in the near future; others will either have to follow suit or die trying.