How out-of-the-box automation can help get your B2B e-store up and running quickly

Have you become aware of the benefits that can come if your customers can interact with you digitally? If you answered yes, join the club.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, many B2B companies with personal selling models are looking to invest in e-commerce solutions that will allow their customers to get information about their products and place orders whenever and however they want.

They do it wisely. Research published by McKinsey in October 2020 found that more than 75 percent of B2B customers prefer to interact with suppliers virtually and buy from them online, rather than having sales reps come to their premises. At the time, only 20 percent of business buyers said they were looking forward to resuming face-to-face sales.

It’s no surprise that B2B companies implementing e-commerce solutions are seeing improvements where they matter most – right down to the bottom. According to a research report from Sana Commerce, the first year after opening an online store, it grows at least 30 percent on average.

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Planning your transformation project

If you’re looking to have a B2B e-commerce presence this year, you may be wondering what’s best for you and if your IT department is up to the task of creating a fully integrated online store.

If you expect them to perform most of the tasks manually, the answer to that question will almost certainly be no.

Even if your IT team has sufficient e-commerce knowledge, they are unlikely to have the ‘free’ time this year or next year to get the work done.

Manually configuring a B2B store can be an incredibly labor-intensive process. Your website may need to be redesigned; there may be thousands, even millions of products in your catalog to upload, and developing the links and workarounds to connect your new store to your ERP and sales and marketing systems can be a slow old game.

Yes, there is the option to outsource the job wholesale to a third-party service provider, provided you don’t mind paying advisory fees and waiting in line for them to get to your project. Given the much-discussed shortage of ICT skills in Australia, which has caused salaries in the sector to rise since the start of the Covid crisis, you may have to wait a bit.

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Embracing Automation

There’s another way: apply technology that does the heavy lifting for you.

With modern, cloud-based B2B e-commerce technology, you can streamline and automate the most labor-intensive aspects of the configuration process – retrieve product images and specifications from your ERP and product information management systems, build product groups and, perhaps most importantly, integrate your online store with your ERP system, to create a single source of e-commerce truth.

Changes to your online store can be made easily through Visual Designer – with such ease that any member of your team can be entrusted with the task.

You’ll also end up with a streamlined setup that’s less prone to failure, more likely to accurately reflect your inventory levels and lead times, and less vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.

It’s the obvious answer if you want to open your digital doors to B2B commerce economically, securely and quickly.

An online future for your B2B business

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Australian corporate customers have changed their buying behavior significantly since the advent of the Covid crisis, and doing business with suppliers digitally is quickly becoming the norm. To keep your customers happy, you need to meet them where they are – online – and provide an efficient and effortless purchasing experience every time they interact with you.

If you don’t already have an ecommerce presence that can do this, you may already be losing ground to faster competitors who are completely watching your customer base. By embracing automation, you can catch up and compete in 2022 and beyond.

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