Moving your existing B2B customers to your ecommerce platform
Making the transition to ecommerce as a B2B business has a wide range of benefits. Not only does it optimise your sales process, reducing your sales team’s workload and allowing them to focus on other business tasks, but it reduces the cost of customer service, allows products to be launched and promoted with minimal effort, and drives higher basket values.
However, if you’ve been offering your products to customers offline, making the transition to ecommerce won’t happen without some friction and headaches. To help, we’ve put together some tips on moving over your existing B2B customers to your new ecommerce platform…
Make it easy for them
Let’s start with the obvious one. If you want customers to sign up for an account and place their orders online, make it as easy as possible for them. Create their account, send over their login details in an email, explain the reasons why you’re changing your processes, and offer advice on how to place and manage orders and make repeat purchases. If your platform is as user-friendly and as straightforward as possible, you’ll face less resistance.
Don’t assume that your clients are digitally savvy. We all have a laptop and smartphone nowadays, but not everyone is au fait with placing orders, and clients may feel overwhelmed if they’re placing an order worth thousands of pounds for merchandise in one transaction.
Reassure them that your platform is safe (we recommend using a secure B2B ecommerce platform like Gemsuite) and walk them through the order process until they get the hang of it.
Share the benefits of doing so
It’s all well and good making the switch to ecommerce to save yourself time and admin, but there must also be a benefit to your customers, or they’ll feel put out. Stress that ecommerce offers an easy and convenient way of doing business, allowing them to place orders at the click of a button at all hours of the day. Explain that ecommerce will reduce errors and offer greater transparency; being able to monitor stock levels and track deliveries, as an example.
As a B2B business, you can spin your move to the web as an opportunity for them, offering a whitelabel ecommerce product and allowing them to access information like your top-selling products and recommended retail prices. And for B2B resellers, ecommerce opens up your business and offers a raft of product literature and photography that clients can reuse when selling to their customers, cutting out the middle man and reducing their marketing costs.
Offer an ecommerce discount
If your clients aren’t responsive to your messaging about moving to an ecommerce platform, you could dangle a carrot and offer them a temporary discount as a thank you for signing up.
A 10% voucher code to use on their first purchase, for example, will not only encourage clients to sign up quickly but to place a larger than average order to maximise their discount code.
For firms who offer services such as free same-day local delivery, regular catch-up calls and cash payments, you may find that moving to an ecommerce store will reduce your operating costs, and so you can pass on permanent discounts to clients who choose to shop online.
Accept payments on their terms
A common sticking point in moving existing clients to ecommerce is payments. If you can offer payment terms that your clients are familiar with, such as major credit and debit cards, alternative methods like Apple Pay and PayPal, and payments on account, the chances are most will be happy to make the switch, but you may need to be flexible in the short term.
For clients who typically pay by cash or on delivery, look at compromises and find ways that you can optimise your ecommerce platform to suit their needs. With Gemsuite, you can not only manage orders across multiple channels from a single account and implement a loyalty reward programme for valued clients but add your own payment methods to suit your needs.
Set a cut-off date for offline orders
Finally, consider adding a cut-off date for offline orders so that clients are forced to make the switch if they want to continue working with you. This date should be well-communicated and your clients should be given at least three months’ notice so they have the chance to sign-up and iron out any difficulties. Make sure they are regularly reminded and reach out to those who are yet to switch to ensure they’re aware and have the information they need.
Naturally, moving to a new system will alienate some of your valued clients, so it’s essential that you explain your move effectively, but also know when to draw the line. If you have a client that’s resistant to change and is costing you more in administration than they generate in profits, be firm, and tell them you can only work with them via your new platform. Disgruntled clients may look to other companies, but most will be happy to make the switch.
There’s no denying that moving your B2B business to ecommerce will take time and effort, but if you have a clear strategy in place, you should find it works without too many hiccups. If you’re ready to make the switch, reach out to the experts at Comgem on 01656 330 360. With our versatile ecommerce platform Gemsuite, you can sell more stock with less effort.