Benefits Of Having B2B eCommerce For Food And Beverages Industry

As per the predictions of Forrester, the B2B eCommerce market is expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023 and this means the B2B sales will contribute towards 17% of the US sales.

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The B2B eCommerce has boomed for different sectors over the years, however, in the food and beverages sector, it has been a slow growth. This was because majority of the equipment used in this sector was expensive when customized and businesses were not that comfortable buying them online. However, all those products were not expensive and not all customers were afraid of taking risks too!

B2B eCommerce is the first step towards customer engagement on the digital platform

If you monitor or research the B2C and B2B industries then you will see that the ones which are successful in the market have made an effort to come up with an eCommerce store with the idea of achieving digital customer engagement. This clearly means they have two things different from their peers and they are:

Firstly, the leaders in the industry have come up with a wider vision on how companies in future can engage with their customers. At the organizational level, there is strong instinct to come up with digital culture as well as set a new foundation for the business. The leaders are of the opinion that the company will plan to change many things and it can be things like the various touchpoints where the brand interacts with the customers, size and shape of their sales team, and how they balance to do business through different channels. All such efforts have helped company to pin down their current and future customer base. Although companies may not have clear plan for the future, there has been some clarity on some short-term goals.

Secondly, the eCommerce solution is said to be an effective commercial strategy and today many businesses feel them to be crucial for their future success. This means that the whole strategy has been developed based on understanding the customers well and the winning theory. There is a clear plan developed around customer adoption, change management, a channel strategy, and sales force engagement. These things have then worked as the base to decide the operational and technical aspects of what you need and what not.

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Benefits of B2B commerce in food and beverages industry

  • Start selling the way your customers wish to purchase
    For a B2B business, its target audience consists of the same people who spend time and money on the retail online shopping line. If you look at statistics from Statista, you will see that annual revenue from food and beverage retail eCommerce in the US was 15 billion in 2020 and by 2023, it is expected to pass 20 billion.

If we take the example of Amazon, you will see that it has turned out to be a fast-growing eCommerce platform that offers easy shopping experience for a wide range of products under a single banner. Now this includes everything right from books, gift, kitchenware to groceries and hot meals. Even with diversified product line, they have ensured to provide same shopping convenience to their customers. With your food and beverages store, you will be able to achieve the same.

  • Get access to new markets
    Have you thought about a scenario where a business equipment can benefit another market? Chances are there that you may be missing out newer business opportunities if your sales team is not actively pursuing new markets.

When you have an online store then it becomes easy for your potential customers to find you where you are. It is even possible to find new business clients looking for new product markets that was never thought before.

  • Opening different communication and purchasing options
    Companies prefer different communication methods to respond back. It can be via email, chat, text, or social media. Some companies even follow the phone call option as few are okay with it. However, millennials are not much comfortable with phone calls, they despise them.

In this new world, companies have multi-channels to communicate and reach companies and interact with them. By choosing the online marketplace for your business, you will be able to reach larger audience base and this way you will have another communication channel to reach your customers and communicate with them and vice versa.

  • Promotes brand awareness
    Brand awareness is all about presenting your brand in the market and keeping them always on the mind of people through continuous efforts. This can be tough for companies that are not on the digital marketplace yet.

The digital solution lets the business to reach larger audience base and in return, gives them a new opportunity to discover the brand in a new way. It can be like a 24*7 working store where the customers can come to buy or to know more about its offering.

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[Updated Infogrpahic] B2B eCommerce: Benefits for Businesses in 2020 and Beyond

  • Helps business stay ahead of competition
    Compared to other online businesses, the B2B purchasing is comparatively slow in case of food industry and they are making a slow progress too. This means businesses that can use this opportunity and make some quick actions will be able to get some advantage of the market by being the first-comers. Businesses that plan to wait for a few years may find themselves joining the market late and thus staying behind in the competition.
  • Helps with re-orders
    For business clients, one of their major areas of concerns is to have an error-free and efficient reordering option to buy raw materials. For many businesses, the digital platform works as a convenience option to simplify the routine tasks and make them more efficient. Again, larger number of such customers prefer to go ahead with reordering using some self-service tools. They want things to be fast rather than talking to some sales representative.

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[Updated Infogrpahic] B2B eCommerce: Benefits for Businesses in 2020 and Beyond

  • Direct selling of standard products and parts
    Lot of businesses in the food industry use food processing equipment. Such equipment is customized and highly-engineered. Not all such equipment is customized though and even if they are, they still use some standard parts often.

When you have an online store, you will be able to sell standard products as well as parts directly to the customers without having the involvement of any salesperson. This means you can save up your sales team to take care of higher-value orders that are customized and need assistance.

  • Smart invoicing
    B2B companies need to change the traditional methods they are following to provide better experience and convenience to their clients. It is important to consider the entire customer’s journey right from the movement they start researching the product to finally choosing a few options. Based on that you can come up with personalized content that will help them with decision-making and followed by post-purchase support service.

Creating invoices manually is a clumsy process and for food businesses that generates high volume of invoices every day, this is not a suitable option. Now this issue can be greatly resolved when businesses shop at online food eCommerce stores. When they do so, e-invoice will be generated which will have all the information just like the traditional one covering invoice number, payment information, sold items, quantity, price, delivery address, supplier information, and also the dates.

  • Reducing operational costs
    When it comes to business operations, an online B2B ordering platform can seem to be profitable option. When you have such an eCommerce platform you will be able save yourself from the data-entry and telecommunication expenses. Moreover, such a system will be managed from a centralized location and so you will be able to manage your daily workflow easily and effortlessly manage your present and future business demands.
  • Personalize customer interactions
    You will be able to come up with a standardized communication structure for your business to communicate with your customers when you have a right B2B ordering solution in place. This way you can offer special deals to your valued customers, customize the product categories for selected customers and even personalize the product catalog for different customers based on their taste.

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  • Monitor your business and plan your growth accordingly
    A B2B eCommerce solution helps the business to efficiently monitor the activities of its customers, know the demands in the market and shift to it quickly, and project forecasts. Say, for example, if a set of certain customers happen to buy specific products from your store, then you can come up with promotional campaigns that are designed for the same. Such data-driven campaigns will help the business to get valuable insights that will help them increase their sales and thus grow their business.

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[Updated Infogrpahic] B2B eCommerce: Benefits for Businesses in 2020 and Beyond

  • Ensure different distribution channels work in sync
    eCommerce offers numerous benefits to a business. They can choose to have different channels to interact with customers, however, it can create lot of confusion if not handled properly. Things can get bad for distributors with complex and multiple channels like retail branches, telesales and outside sales force.

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For the sales force and customers, it can be equally confusing and conflicting and now customers will be able to check out the products on different platforms along with its different pricing. Distributors may make use of price and other kinds of incentives to encourage customers to buy certain products in-store and certain online. When you add in product and pricing information on the online store, customers will be aware of them and so will interact with the sales people differently. This means, from just being the face of the business to its customers, the role of sales professional changes, and they rather become advisors helping customers make the right product choices.

Developing a clear channel strategy is a way to addressing this step. Now this includes understanding the value propositions and different costs involved in channel that is connected with customer interaction. Apart from just taking care of customer service and sales, it also includes other interactions, thus optimizing different things. All these things together will help you define the offers and promotions that you feel right for different channels. You also get to drive desirable user behaviors by modifying the incentive programs regularly.

Many distributors fail to understand the need of various channels working together before they launch their eCommerce store. However, coming up with a clear channel strategy is important for your eCommerce store and this will also save your employees and customers from further frustrations.

  • Commercialize every customer move
    One of the main benefits of eCommerce is the kind of data it produces and the customer intimacy it creates. eCommerce platform will let you know how much time customers have spent on your site looking for products, how they were searching for products, every page they visit, and also their every mouse clicks. It also tells businesses about the opportunities they can have to reach customers while spending less. This help businesses to experiment and try different targeted offers to specific set of customers with product alternatives, or offer what you think they will need based on their previous purchases or the ones that customers like them have bought previously.

Some popular distributors in the industry have already understood the opportunities hidden in this arena and have decided to use it on their existing customer base to generate revenue. Distributors target their customer base by suggesting products they may like by using robust pricing strategy. By pushing items to the recommended products category with competitive pricing, distributors will be able to see rise in their sales. Compared to the traditional channels, distributors target and engage customers online using data that too at lower expenses. This way, rather than conducting a meeting with the client to share new products, distributor can use the eCommerce platform along with a properly set commercial strategy to target the audience through email marketing. They target customers who are most likely to buy from them by showcasing product pricing and specifications.

  • Choose agile when developing your eCommerce business
    Generally, many distributors go for the traditional approach when setting up their eCommerce platform. In this case requirements are frozen at the initial stage and then the final product is rolled out after few months. This approach is generally chosen by distributors in IT organizations. This approach minimizes any risks and has been designed keeping safety and control in mind. The issue with this approach is that you cannot have iterations when you learn new things and feel like making adjustments.

When working on eCommerce platforms you need to make mistakes fast, rectify them and keep on trying new things. It is at this juncture that agile as well as other iterative methodologies prove as the best way to tackle such issues. It works by setting priority use cases and progressing ahead in successive steps. This goes through multiple iterations.

The future of B2B commerce for the food and beverage industry is bright, so as a business in this line, if you are still to invest in the digital marketplace, it is high time you do so. With many businesses still to explore the eCommerce arena, you will always have a competitive edge by choosing to do so.

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