.The benefits of extending eCommerce into a B2B app
“Apps drive deeper customer engagement, more conversions, and a higher AOV. Done right, an app can leverage and extend e-commerce and offer a new direction for your omnichannel strategy that will delight buyers.”
Paper order forms, faxes, and even old-fashioned phone calls still tend to dominate the wholesale sales process. While B2B is way behind B2C, the move to digital commerce is underway and accelerating. This is precisely why e-commerce platforms that specialize in delivering B2B tools, features, and functionality are seeing such rapid growth.
A recent Gartner report examines the rapid move toward B2B digital enablement. A key finding is that sales reps no longer drive buying decisions and actual purchases. Instead, online ordering is surging. At the time of the study, sales rep interactions only accounted for 17% of the wholesale purchase journey. 44% of millennials said they prefer no sales rep interaction at all when making buying decisions.
This quote from the report struck me as particularly important. “As baby boomers retire, and millennials mature into key decision-making positions, a digital-first buying posture will become the norm. Further, we expect the acute spike in digital buying during the COVID-19 pandemic to have a sustained influence on customer comfort with digital learning and buying.”
Covid-fueled retail ecommerce has exploded and B2B is finally starting to catch up. Innovative B2B businesses are adopting a “digital-first” stance and consider an app as a logical extension of their online wholesale ordering platforms.
The reason apps play such a big role in B2B is utility. B2B buying is very complex and e-commerce platforms usually tie into an ERP and CRM. Tools for account-based custom pricing and order list management are typically folded in.
The B2B path to purchase can be a winding one and an app can straighten this road by personalizing the online buying experience and delivering it in an always-on manner, literally in the pocket of buyers. Wholesalers considering an app typically cite reducing customer service time/expense and data entry errors as a primary goal.
After all, all wholesale buyers are consumers themselves and COVID-driven retail app adoption and use has skyrocketed in the last two years. Mobile app usage was up 40% during COVID. Another factor is that increasingly, wholesale customers expect an app to make ordering more straightforward and more personalized.
Ask yourself. When did you last login to the Amazon mobile browser? Odds are, you never have since the instantly-personalized experience of the app is far superior. With an app, there’s no need to enter payment information. There’s no need to type in your address, and order history is called up instantly. Page load times are nearly instantaneous. Plus, you get the app-only option of using push messaging to drive deeper engagement with wholesale accounts.
Chef’s Warehouse is one of our biggest B2B customers, and they recently re-platformed to Optimizely. We built their B2B app out to leverage and extend new Optimizely B2B features and functionality. The results have been fantastic. Their reps can easily access customer order history and account-specific pricing, etc. The app consistently delivers a conversion rate that is three times that of the mobile website and the majority of buyers/chefs now use the app for wholesale ordering.
Apps were once thought of as “nice to haves” but this is changing fast. Buyers demand tools to make complex wholesale ordering processes easier. As more wholesale businesses move online and the business starts to catch up to retail, the leaders in the space will be first to market with an app, so they can learn to iterate and phase in new features.
According to Digital Commerce 360, in 2021, online B2B sales grew 17.8% to $1.63 trillion from $1.39 trillion in 2020. In fact, B2B e-commerce sales grew faster than all other manufacturing and distributor sales in the U.S.
Gartner calls the successful delivery of digital, online tools to help smooth the path of the purchase “Buyer Enablement” and concludes the research with the following: “Customers are migrating decisively from in-person channels to digital alternatives…new digital channels must be purpose-built to drive sales performance, justified by a simple truth: customers learn and buy digitally.”
Apps are all we do, we make the process easy, and the ROI is typically rapid. Orders placed on the app “pour into” your current eCommerce operations. Data is seamlessly synced between the app and your eCommerce back-end.
If you are interested in a custom app to meet your specific needs, please consider visiting our site. We work with customers like Chef’s Warehouse and Binny’s Beverage Depot and can customize an app project specifically designed to meet your unique requirements.
Got app? If not, you should be considering the potential benefits to your wholesale business.