Once upon a time there was a capable businessman named Richard. For many years he produced powerful machines and sold them all over the country, even to other kingdoms. Richard was a prudent man, because he always weighed all advantages and disadvantages before making important decisions.
The time came for him to be recounted several times about the advantages of online trading. There was talk of gushing sales and happier customers, but Richard was in doubt. How should machine tools and e-commerce fit together? What did it look like in the country where orders were simple and deliveries safe, without messengers, parchment and bargaining? Richard decided not to give anything to the gossip of the people. He preferred to see for himself what it could be all about. So he packed some belongings and set off.
As good luck would have it, before long Richard met another traveler. His name was Tobias and he had already seen a lot of the realm of digitized B2B sales processes. When he heard what Richard was looking for, he joined him for part of the way. Richard told him about the many myths surrounding e-commerce that he was trying to unravel. When evening broke, they set up camp for the night and Tobias told him about the digital sales realm.
Myth 1: B2B buyers prefer traditional procurement methods.
This assertion does not stand up to reality. Studies show that B2B buyers today prefer the online channel to traditional procurement methods in most areas. The main reason: convenience. All of us are now used to buying easily over the Internet from our private lives. Meaningful product information, price comparisons, product availability, personalized shopping experiences with meaningful and relevant suggestions as well as simple payment options - all these have long been a matter of course for us in the B2C sector. Online self-service offers tailored specifically to B2B customers are therefore a must today if satisfied customers are the goal.
Myth 2: E-Commerce solutions are unsuitable for B2B processes.
In contrast to B2C, B2B often involves complex buyer organizations with different roles, rules, approvals, cost centers, budgets, limits, special conditions and other, often very specific requirements. For quite some time, therefore, the view was held that e-commerce solutions were unsuitable for B2B processes. That has changed for a long time. A mature e-commerce solution maps the individual organizational structures of various purchasing departments so precisely that companies can offer their customers an optimally personalized shopping experience according to their needs. And this ensures satisfaction and close, lasting customer loyalty.
Myth 3: Digital sales channels cannibalize traditional sales channels.
The fear that digital sales channels will cannibalize existing sales channels, i.e. that increasing online sales will lead to lower sales figures in traditional sales - and thus to discontent among employees - has long persisted. Today, according to the Intershop E-Commerce Report 2019, only 15% of companies surveyed consider it a challenge to convince their sales department of the benefits of e-commerce projects. 76% also assume that a significant portion of purchases will continue to be processed via offline channels because customers also want to communicate with people. Even 85% state that a personal customer relationship remains necessary. The fact is that real synergy effects and added value can be generated when online and offline channels are networked and complement each other.
Myth 4: Investments in online business are more marketing than sales.
Surprisingly often B2B companies still believe that investments in online sales do not pay off. Especially not if you successfully generate sales with the existing channels. One thing is certain, however: An online channel opens up new possibilities for addressing customers. An Internet presence not only increases the reach in local markets, it also opens the door to lucrative international or global markets in a cost-effective way. In addition, the established offline sales will of course continue. Studies show that B2B companies that have entered e-commerce with self-service functions have been able to drastically reduce costs for customer service, sales and support. In addition, they have gained customers that they can only serve profitably online.
Myth 5: B2B commerce is boring.
Whether intelligent vending machines filled with tools or shelves that refill themselves thanks to automated reordering: Würth is a prime example of how online commerce in B2B must be anything but boring. With sophisticated digital solutions, the B2B market leader in international trade with assembly and fastening materials differentiates itself from the competition and offers its customers a convincing, exciting shopping experience.
The fire had burned down. Richard rolled up his blanket and pondered what Tobias had told before falling into a night of bold dreams. In the morning, he packed his bag. Full of zeal he was to head home again. He thanked Tobias. It had dawn on Richard that the land of digitization was not to be found far away, but right at his feet. ´Well´, he thought to himself, ´Fortune favors the bold. I shall try it myself!´ Tobias wished him luck on his way and let Richard know where to find him, would he need his advice. Tobias also assured him that he would know how to call good souls for him, who would almost work unseen for Richard and his new world of trade.
And so it came to pass that Richard also went among the online traders. Over the next year, you saw fewer and fewer messengers, you could hardly hear tethering and haggling from the merchant's house. Because parchments were hardly needed anymore and customers knew long before they ordered what the machines would be like, at what price and when they could be expected. Rather, more and more carts loaded with Richard's machines were rumbling to distant lands. They increased his wealth, that of his customers and spread his reputation far and wide. As far as we know, he is now a made man and lives happily ever after. Even the youngest king's daughter had already heard of him. But that is yet another story...