Disrupt or be disrupted – why now is the time for B2B eCommerce


In a world where digital adoption is skyrocketing, even the most traditionally manual tasks can be done online.
Network data transfer speed on a dark background.
Image source: Getty Images

From banking and paying bills, to ordering meals and travelling, just about anything can be booked and paid for from just about any device with an internet connection. However, when it comes to B2B sales, the pace of digital adoption has been lagging. But that’s about to change.

B2B eCommerce has already started transforming the way businesses make sales. Following a massive spike in consumer online shopping behaviour, business owners now want to be able to order stock with the same ease they make online purchases in their personal lives. Traditional business sales methods are fast becoming obsolete – which means that for those B2B businesses who aren’t already selling online, they need to act now or risk being left behind.

Changing purchasing trends

Although the retail landscape has been changing for some time, the pandemic accelerated the growth of online sales at an unprecedented rate – Australia Post’s 2021 eCommerce industry report cited a staggering 57% YOY growth of online purchases. But it’s not simply that consumers are shopping online – their overall purchasing behaviours have changed. More than ever before, consumers are choosing to buy from brands directly, while online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay further add to the competition. The landscape has changed so swiftly, that some long standing businesses didn’t realise they were losing customers until they were already gone. And a similar change is imminent in the B2B space.

As digital interactions between buyers and suppliers increase, it’s expected that this will break traditional B2B sales models. In fact, research from Gartner shows that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur in digital channels; a change driven by the fact that 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience. Quite simply, the traditional methods of catalogues and sales reps have become antiquated in a world where people can buy what they want, when they want, from any device. A digital B2B sales channel is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s an absolute necessity for companies wanting to stay in business.

Casting a wider net

While the limited resources associated with more traditional sales methods means efforts should be focused on targeting the biggest customers, when a business moves to online sales, this is no longer the case. By adding a digital sales platform, businesses are able to sell to thousands of smaller businesses they wouldn’t have had the resources to target earlier. Pharmaceutical brands who’ve traditionally only sold to major pharmacy chains can open up to independent chemists; car parts manufacturers can stock independent garages all over the country – going digital means having the ability to sell to an endless number of new customers, and the opportunity to significantly increase revenue.

Additionally, with two thirds of consumers now purchasing directly from brands, another avenue for B2B businesses to explore is selling direct to consumer (DTC). Once a B2B eCommerce platform has been built, it’s quite simple to create a consumer-facing version which feeds into the same back end, providing further opportunities for growth. Of course, adding a DTC channel is not without its challenges – there’s additional pressure on warehouse logistics to consider; dealing directly with customers requires a dedicated customer service team; and there’s a very fine line to walk in order to manage channel conflicts. However, in addition to adding B2B eCommerce strategy, DTC is another lucrative option consider.

The time is now

Every business is unique, which means an out-of-the-box solution isn’t going to cut it for B2B eCommerce. And it’s important to understand that finding the right solution takes time – it can take years between creating a prototype and testing to perfect and get it right. This is why it’s important to start sooner, rather than later.

Right now, we are on the cusp of radical transformation in the B2B space. B2B buyer behaviours are already starting to shift, closely following in the footsteps of consumer buyer behaviour. In order for Australian B2B companies to survive and thrive in an increasingly digital world, digital must become part of the organisation’s core focus. Because in five to ten years’ from now, only the businesses who went digital today, will be the ones still left standing.

James Horne is CEO of Balance Internet and a digital commerce innovator and thought leader with a passion for driving business success from digital commerce ecosystems. Find out more at Balance Internet