Ever since Amazon decided to branch out further with the launch of Amazon Business in 2015, we’ve seen manufacturers and distributors flock to gain access to Amazon’s huge customer base. This forms a huge part of the wider trend of B2B e-commerce growth, with the industry predicted to value at an astounding $1.8 trillion by 2023 in the US alone.
Digital commerce in this sector has caused major disruption to both B2B distribution channels and the ways B2B buyers expect to select and receive their products.
Meeting the expectations of today’s B2B e-commerce landscape requires a shift towards a more customer-centric mindset. But what does that look like, and what kind of expectations should you meet in order to satisfy your B2B buyers?
Times have changed when it comes to B2B sales, which presents new opportunities for deeper trust and transparency between buyer and seller.
The traditional distribution channels of B2B manufacturing relied on information from a trusted sales rep and one-dimensional product guides, such as printed catalogs. Now, B2B e-commerce has set the trend for full pipeline transparency. Buyers expect to know what they’re buying, where it’s coming from, and a full quantification of services at the click of a button.
Price transparency also weighs strongly here. Buyers are now able to compare prices, delivery costs and work out bulk buy price breaks, with ease, from a range of sellers.
Wide-range of product offerings
In the past, sales reps relied on having a large product depth and breadth to attract and maintain buyers across their distribution network. However, since the birth of Amazon Business, the benchmark of what constitutes a competitive range of products has shifted significantly.
The platform currently stocks hundreds of millions of products from a multitude of suppliers – all delivered globally at rapid speeds. They also maintain services from major distributors through to small and diverse suppliers, meaning buyers can complete all their procurement needs through one platform.
Reliable delivery and quality
Last, but certainly not least, comes reliable delivery and quality. Any delay in product delivery or error in the product ordered can become extremely costly – especially if the part in question will limit or halt manufacturing production for your buyer.
The online marketplaces of today have set a new level of expectation which combines detailed insights into the product and dependable delivery times. Amazon Marketplace has set the new standard of delivery at 1-2 days, and even offers same-day delivery, no doubt attracting more brick-and-mortar shoppers to its platform.
Delivery times and quality guarantee have come leaps and bounds since the old days of B2B manufacturing – and buyer expectations are keeping up. Sellers will have to continuously push these standards as B2B e-commerce continues to grow in popularity.
Industrial commercial brands are still channel-obsessed rather than customer-obsessed, and will need to adapt to these new buyer expectations. Amazon Business has now been on the scene for 5 years, yet large businesses are still struggling to cope with the dynamic nature of this ecosystem which is now driven by the buyers.
We’re just scratching the surface of these changes, and what we can expect in the years ahead. However, don’t fret if you haven’t yet made the switch to an e-commerce distribution model. Our next blog explores how you can embrace e-commerce and build an online model that puts these customer expectations at the heart of your strategy.