Switching from offline sales to B2B eCommerce is starting to sound like a really great option for your wholesale business. Not only will it streamline your workflows, it will bring bigger opportunities for profit and sales as well. Still, you’re concerned about making the switch: how will it affect your customers?
You’re worried about your customers and their experience adapting to and using new online services in two major areas:
- Placing Orders: will this disrupt their ordering processes and will they adapt to the new changes?
- Customer Service: will you still be able to provide them with the level of service they’ve come to expect from your business?
Both areas of concern are completely valid, because moving from offline to online will impact the way things are done in both respects. But the good news is, switching to B2B eCommerce will be mostly positive and will improve the way you interact with your customers. Here’s how:
First up, customer adaptation to a new buying process
Switching to online selling will improve and streamline your customer’s ordering process.
Customers will gain the ability to order online at their own convenience with a much shorter time commitment. We’re talking about moving from a long, multi-step process to a much shorter process of making a decision and then placing an order in a few clicks.
They no longer have to wait for you to make an order. This means less time waiting for a sales person and gaining the ability to place orders at random times, like on bank holidays or when you’re out of the office.
This is an extra advantage for international customers - time zones lose their power over the ordering process, allowing them to get online whenever is convenient for them.
And finally, order accuracy will improve, as there is less room for manual errors created by the information passing through many hands.
Will your customers adapt to this change in technology? Most likely, yes! While the wholesale industry has a reputation of being a bit...shall we say...technologically behind the times, that doesn’t mean that your users are.
They may still use a fax to send their order to you, but then post a photo on Instagram, make a one-click order on Amazon, and order their groceries online. B2B eCommerce is a new way of making wholesale orders, but doing things online isn’t. This is more a case of wholesale catching up to the current trends, rather than introducing new technology.
Remember 89% are likely already researching online before engaging with you, and 75% are influenced by social media posts.
Moving them online
There are ways you can help your customer make the transition smoothly: it’s all about first informing them, then encouraging use.
It starts with awareness. When communicating to your customers about your new online store, make sure to highlight all the changes that make the ordering process easier and more accurate. It also helps to highlight how much less time it will take to place an order online.
Once your customers are aware of your new online store, then the challenge becomes getting them to shop in it. While the advantages should drive them to adopt it themselves, there are two ways to give them an extra push.
- At the beginning, come up with an incentive or two, like a discount on initial orders that will encourage them to use the online process.
- Ensure your sales teams and customer service are ready to answer higher volumes of questions as customers first begin shopping online. This will take some time commitment at the beginning, but will pay off once your customers become capable of self-service.
Now, about customer service
Moving your operations online will make providing good customer service easier, not harder. Having all the information about orders, shipping status, order history, and other crucial data will only help you better serve them.
As usual, customer service will be all about getting to know your customers - their behavior, their needs, their pain points. The difference will be that to address those pain points, you’ll be working for a lot of up-to-date data from a platform that means it’s easier to interact.
As an example, when we talk about TradeGecko’s intelligence section that brings up sales reports in just a few seconds, we say, above else, they help you understand your customer better.
Ultimately, moving online makes it easier for the customer to order from you. It saves them (and you!) time spent on phone calls, paperwork, and waiting for forms to be sent back and forth. The time they save allows them to focus on other aspects of growing their own business.
By moving online, you’re empowering your customers in their overall ordering process - and in many ways empowering your own business as well!