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P19-20 Business Software:Layout 1 27/04/2021 12:11 Page 19 BusinessSoſtware


As business buyers move online, how will suppliers adapt?


Kevin Murray, managing director at Greenlight Commerce, shares his thoughts on B2B online sales for a post-pandemic industry.


2


020 brought a new level of pressure to bear on wholesalers and manufacturers. Aſter almost a decade


of inching slowly towards an online sales model, the business to business (B2B) sector was suddenly asked to increase its pace sharply. As the pandemic drove consumer shoppers online, business customers began to realise what they were missing. Buyers who had previously been perfectly happy with a catalogue, a phone - and perhaps an email order form - woke up to the fact that their suppliers could also make purchasing easier for them. In a report* published at the end of 2020, Gartner summed up the new mood among


ewnews.co.uk


customers. “Business buyers, especially younger ones, want self-service and expect similar experiences in their B2B digital shopping to those in their digital consumer shopping — to include 24/7 availability, intuitive navigation, rich product information and assistance when needed — both via web and mobile.” The B2B sector is upping its game fast in


order to meet this demand, but many companies are still struggling to adapt. Many have set up rudimentary web stores, but these will not be enough to satisfy the modern customer. We’ve taken a look at what’s changed in B2B and how organisations can revamp their online offering to give their customers what they want.


B2B customers want more Back in 2018, the Harvard Business Review published a paper** by Bain & Co which analysed the needs of business customers and laid out both the similarities and differences between B2B and B2C purchasing. The paper identified that, while the fundamentals of cost and product quality are still enormously important, these are no longer enough to engender loyalty, or even to be the deciding factors in a purchase. In order to differentiate themselves, B2B vendors need to appeal also to the practical and personal side of the buyer. At a practical level, business buyers are influenced by convenience, productivity and time saving. Personally, the right purchase can not only improve their working experience but


lContinued over May 2021 electrical wholesaler | 19


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