Strategy

How VTEX powers your business results with B2B ecommerce

Matheus Kury
Matheus Kury August 20, 2021
How VTEX powers your business results with B2B ecommerce

74% of decision-makers believe that omnichannel in the B2B sales process is more efficient than the traditional method of selling products and services.

McKinsey & Company, 2021

It is not new that B2B ecommerce is a one-way road for companies that want to keep growing. With an increasing focus on customer convenience and the seamless purchase process, ecommerce is becoming one of the most strategic sales channels for any B2B business. 

The companies that embrace this new reality and can seamlessly meet their customers’ needs through different sales channels will find a new way to expand their business significantly. In this article, I address four of the main aspects in which VTEX supports its clients in this channel.

Offering a better end-user experience

A key aspect to consider – and that many companies forget – when designing a sales channel strategy is always to remember that, although you are selling to a legal entity, there is always an individual with beliefs, habits, and preferences. And every day, more Millennials are joining the companies’ buying cycle, bringing their buying journey preferences as end-users to their work environment as well.

Today, with the availability of information (thanks, internet!), the consumer can easily decide on a product from company A or B through a quick Google search. Better informed and more independent, the consumer avoids as much as possible any human contact for low complexity or even high-value purchases. This happens because the consumer is educated enough on a particular subject, no longer wanting to depend on a representative. This behavior is also repeated in our personal lives: have you noticed how people are increasingly asking for permission via WhatsApp before calling you?

This new tendency in consumption habits also happens in B2B. A better-informed buyer, or one already used to their recurring demand, prefers to be autonomous when making a purchase, having only one support contact if they need any help or have questions about a product/service they didn’t get enough information about. And better experiences, especially in B2B, where recurrence is widespread, generate loyalty and, consequently, more money in your pocket.

VTEX stores have benefited from the flexibility and freedom provided by VTEX IO not only to be present in ecommerce, but also to provide truly engaging experiences to their customers. 

Providing greater reach to new customers 

Given the democratization of information access and the extent to which it has put customers in control of their buying processes, the ideal journey of new customers is also changing a lot. Having access to crucial information for a decision process, such as price, quality, and product value, allows your increasingly digital customer to have a self-service buying journey. This scenario has been replicated for every industry, affecting buying behavior at each stage.

Having reinforced this point, it is clear how B2B ecommerce facilitates new customers in your portfolio, regardless of their size and location. Previously, it didn’t make sense to have a sales team serve smaller customers in more distant locations; B2B ecommerce can serve them on a large scale, increasing your customer base and recurring revenue.

With VTEX, several B2B businesses have taken advantage of the ecommerce reach, applying different commercial conditions according to each customer profile, thus offering a more suitable experience regardless of the buyer’s size, location, or maturity.

Marketplace as a business strategy

As in B2C, the marketplace has been a way for B2B businesses to gain capillarity and brand exposure. Joining B2B ecommerce allows your business to provide exposure to your entire chain and deliver products to your end customers that may not be your core business but are still relevant to them.

The B2B marketplace will allow you to design strategies that will promote the digital development of your entire chain if, for example, you operate as a shop window for your distributors or resellers. While your brand adds traction, reliability, and exposure to the showcase, the distributor/reseller focuses on commercial and delivery conditions. In addition, you eliminate any resistance that may arise due to channel conflict.

Another critical aspect of the Marketplace is selling complementary products to yours without being responsible for producing, purchasing, or storing these products. For example, if you are a fabric manufacturer, you could connect sellers of sewing machinery, making your company a more strategic partner for your B2B customers. 

Every VTEX ecommerce store has its architecture ready to become a marketplace, making its implementation faster and easier. VTEX also offers the Marketplace Network, an ecosystem – available to all VTEX clients and brings marketplaces and sellers together in one place. There, they can discover new partnership opportunities, facilitate the hunting process for new partners, and, consequently, grow revenue together.

Making sales reps more productive and high performing

This has been a priority for any sales leader, in which many of them struggle to unburden their sales team of operational tasks so that they can invest more time in selling. But it is also necessary to consider that even selling can be an operational task, and therefore, easily optimized through technology depending on that sale complexity degree and the maturity of your customer regarding the products and services you offer.

In order to have real productivity gains, it is necessary to prioritize customers. A simple way to do so is to associate your installed base with the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. This rule states that approximately 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes for many situations. Based on this principle, we can look at a customer portfolio considering that a small portion of it generates most of its revenue, and from this portion, we can define prioritization strategies.

Clients with lower revenue potential can choose a more self-service service model with more low-touch support from the sales team. B2B ecommerce can be used as a support channel for recurring purchases for critical customers, keeping the account manager in a much more consultative and personalized role.

As long as this prioritization is well designed and ecommerce is positioned as an ally to the other sales channels, the sales team will not have to worry about placing the orders manually. This will give them the freedom to work on accounts with greater buying potential, besides opening space for the prospection of new strategic accounts, increasing the revenue.

The Stanley Black & Decker case is a good example of how VTEX retailers can turn their ecommerce into a true B2B order orchestrator, bringing the representative closer to their customer portfolio through the digital channel and obtaining support range. 

Conclusion

It is plain to see that ecommerce is a reality in the B2B market. In January 2019 (notice this was one year before COVID-19), Forrester predicted that by 2023, 17% of all B2B market transactions in the US would be done through ecommerce. 

Taking retail as an example, we identified companies that faced the digital transformation in two different ways: those dealing with it strategically, who tried to learn from mistakes, and who were ready for the changes beforehand. Only due to Covid did these companies incorporate digital into their business planning and were able to take advantage of the rise of ecommerce. However, there was also another group of companies that, when they had ecommerce, were just solving problems. They are still struggling with closed stores, a digital strategy that is not yet up and running, and they have had very little time to adapt to the new reality, which will last.

In B2B this perception is being consolidated, enhanced by the pandemic. Not so abruptly, but because of all of the factors above, we will also have two groups of companies: one that will really embrace ecommerce as a strategic channel for their business and will know how to manage the unforeseen changes, and the other that will miss countless business opportunities with little time to learn from mistakes and to improve their online approach. 

It is then up to you to decide: Which group do you want to fit your business?

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