While the B2B relationship fundamentally remains the same, how purchasers shop these days grows subtly different. And more B2B companies are changing with the tide.
Despite all the technology purchasers may use these days to research products and place orders, wholesale continues to be a relationship business. More often than not, wholesale comes down to a person-to-person contact, with most sales completed offline, to this day. Still, things change, particularly in the way the B2B customer begins their journey with a supplier.
Content First, Then Contact
How’s your website content? If the B2B customer journey begins online, this is what your customers may very well see first. Not only do B2B purchasers resemble consumers in how they research a product, they want relevant, informative content. Wholesale customers value expertise and a message that shows how the business meets the needs of their particular industry. Then, they will make a purchase or speak to a salesperson. Thus a B2B needs a mechanism in place to accommodate online sales and to cultivate the visitor as a prospect.
While B2B purchasers take initiative in product research, competitive businesses will try to find them first. For example, B2Bs next year expect to increase digital, mobile and social media advertising and outreach. However, some research shows a shift in focus from paid media to “earned media” or word-of-mouth marketing. For example, by creating shareable content (case studies, thought leadership pieces), B2Bs expect to attract the attention of influencers, gain brand exposure and develop B2B customer leads.
The B2B Customer from Anywhere
eCommerce naturally opens doors for businesses of all sizes and kinds. Even most SMBs have some overseas customers, and in the B2B world, global trade becomes more commonplace every year. If the B2B customer journey ends in a purchase order, and customers can come from anywhere, B2Bs will need to accommodate online payments from anywhere.