McKinsey’s latest B2B Pulse research looks at the massive shift to omnichannel currently taking place in B2B sales, across all industries and sectors. According to McKinsey, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically accelerated the shift, and a hefty 94% of B2B decision-makers now reckon that the new ‘omnichannel normal’ – a world where B2B sales take place via a mix of face-to-face, remote, and eCommerce channels – is just as, or more, effective than traditional pre-COVID-19 methods.

Two-thirds of B2B buyers prefer remote interactions and digital self-service when making purchases.

According to McKinsey, B2B buyers today regularly use 10 or more channels to interact with suppliers and make purchases. Interestingly, their research revealed a ubiquitous ‘rule of thirds’ across all industries and sectors. These days, B2B buyers make use of a pretty even mix of traditional in-person channels (like face-to-face meetings with sales reps), remote human interactions (like zoom calls and emails), and digital self-service (like ecommerce marketplaces). The data is clear: two-thirds of B2B buyers collectively prefer remote interactions and digital self-service when making software or services purchases.

(Source: B2B sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time (McKinsey))

Modern B2B buyers value always-on customer service, online transparency around availability and pricing, and the ability to buy via any channel.

What’s interesting about McKinsey’s findings is that the shift to omnichannel isn’t simply about customers wanting to make purchases online; their needs are in fact more nuanced than that. When asked which aspects of the customer experience they consider most essential, a massive proportion of B2B buyers (80% or more) indicated the following non-negotiables:

·  Product availability shown online;

·  Prices available online;

·  Real-time/always-on customer service;

·  Ability to purchase from any channel;

·  Performance guarantee (full refund);

·  Consistent experience across channels.

(Source: B2B sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time (McKinsey))

In a super-competitive online environment, suppliers who fail to meet these requirements risk losing customers outright.

In 2022 and beyond, ecommerce will increasingly stand out as the best B2B sales channel.

When you look at the non-negotiable needs and requirements listed by modern B2B buyers, it becomes abundantly clear why an ecommerce-enabled marketplace specifically designed to sell B2B solutions and services online is the best B2B sales channel:

·  Ecommerce-enabled marketplaces are the ultimate digital self-service platform for B2B buyers looking for tech solutions or related services.

·  Offerings are clearly listed with all necessary information at the buyer’s fingertips, including product or service availability, timelines, pricing structures, deliverables, and even ratings and reviews from previous customers.

·  Chatbots provide an always-on customer service experience.

·  Online payment functionality makes purchasing directly from the marketplace quick and easy.

·  All project communication takes place inside a centralized, secure Customer Portal, allowing for helpful remote human interaction without the mess of confusing email threads or multiple messaging channels.

An ecommerce-enabled marketplace puts your entire ecosystem within your customers’ reach.

There’s another reason why eCommerce is now the best B2B sales channel. The best-in-class SaaS companies have realized that harnessing the power of their wider ecosystems is the key to retaining customers in a world where frictionless customer experiences and intuitive software integrations are absolutely non-negotiable. Allan Adler puts it like this: “Vendors have shifted from a ship and forget model to having a maniacal focus on customer experience and lifetime value. In the process, a diverse ecosystem of customer value influencers and contributors have emerged.”

When you list and sell your ecosystem partners’ services and solutions alongside your own in an eCommerce-enabled marketplace, your customers are able to find the tools and services they need, fast. What’s more, when your marketplace offers a wide array of integrated, related tools and services that work well together, your customer finds themselves shopping a holistic, comprehensive store-front designed to meet their own specific needs.

For now, B2B buyers are still likely to use in-person channels for first-time, complex, or high-value purchases.

McKinsey’s research does indicate that some barriers to the total adoption of ecommerce remain. In particular, customers still tend to revert to in-person buying channels when making first-time, complex, or high-value purchases. It’s important to support in-person and remote channels to serve these customers as ecommerce channels continue to gain traction.

(Source: B2B sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time (McKinsey))

However, despite buyers’ tendency to lean towards more traditional channels for some purchases, the same survey revealed that 35% of B2B decision-makers are willing to spend $500,000 or more on a single interaction on remote or self-service channels. (77% are willing to spend at least $50,000.) The challenge, then, is for ecosystem orchestrators to find new ways to enhance and optimize the B2B online buying experience to align with their buyers’ preferences.

Ready to embrace the best B2B sales channel?

best b2b sales channel

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