B2B E-COMMERCE: A POSSIBILITY IN THE PANDEMIC

B2B E-COMMERCE: A POSSIBILITY IN THE PANDEMIC

May 16, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic has turned the lives of people upside down across the globe. Be it, politicians or business executives, everybody is like a square peg in a round hole in this unprecedented, turmoil situation. The virus is spreading like wildfire in both developed and developing countries and is showing no signs of halt. This is diminishing the demand and confidence of the customers who are suffering from anxiety stemming from uncertainty. Also, the tourism and aviation industries are almost frozen. In this dire situation, business and trade operations have come to a standstill and are taking huge losses. But even in this tumultuous situation, B2B e-commerce can turn this crisis into opportunity.

B2B e-commerce is now thriving in this horrific situation. That is because people are in home-quarantine and are demanding products from online. The business was popular before but the pandemic has surged its necessity even more. What this business needs right now is a proper plan. They need to hold their ground, revise marketing plans with the marketing team, increase investment in digital marketing, and so on. Customers are the oxygen of any business. In this situation, they will have to act for their customer, for their benefit. Besides, taking care of their team is necessary since they will be the force to make all efforts successful.  They have to keep in mind that all the steps taken in this situation will not be short term. Rather these actions will be effective in the long run of the business. In short, it is time to grab hold of this amazing opportunity for those who are in it and who want to be in it.

 

APPROACHING CLIENTS

Coronavirus has disheveled the business schedules and due to this, the marketers are facing the most critical situation in their career. The supply chain is in chaos. The buyers are demanding less because of uncertainty but the sales team has to produce profits. In such a scenario, old plans and methods will not work anymore. New actionable insights are in demand than ever. The sales teams now must find a viable solution.

B2B sales mostly depend on the face to face meeting between two parties. In this pandemic, even thinking about it has lost feasibility. The apparent solution is simple – virtual meetings. But the absence of a salesperson’s charisma will make the endeavor less effective. To avoid rejection, it is time for the product itself to show the charisma and do the talking. It must answer two questions – What is this offering? Why should one buy it now? And the answers need to be persuasive enough to make the buyers buy it without putting off for later.

The pandemic has given the buyers more reasons to not buy and the reasons are legitimate as well. After all, they may have enough inventory and those who do not have may question the sellers’ supply ability. Along with that comes the health issues, onboarding, and billing terms. The sales team will have to counter such reasons and give some cogent answers.

Then the business also needs to mind the competitors who may target its current customer. So, the sales team will need to tighten the defense around them and think of ways to hold their trust and loyalty. Business is a marathon race. To sustain in this race, one needs to provide value to the customers. Offering proper prices in times of crisis will provide such value and win their loyalty.

It is time to put yourself on others’ shoes. Rather than a hungry seller, the sales team will have to think like a reluctant buyer. They will have to play such scenarios to counter the buyers. Creating updates, revising sales plans, studying cases are demands of time. And mostly, the sales team will have to establish and maintain effective communication with the buyers to make their pitches successful.

 

THE TIME FOR DIGITIZATION

Marketers are professionals that deal with uncertain situations. The pandemic is such a situation. The lockdown and quarantine have caused the cancellation of business-to-business exhibitions, festivals, tradeshows, etc. These events eat up 40% of the promotional cost. But now they are either canceled or rescheduled. The best way to bargain with this is to adopt new strategies rather than endure it. And that strategy is digital marketing.

The need for digital marketing is more than ever. If we were in 2008, it would not be possible. But this is the decade of social media. Nowadays 62% adult-use social media to get the latest news. The quarantine has added fuel in this fiery trend. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter are doubling, even tripling their capacity. Following such statistics, marketers who spend 8% on digital marketing are increasing the budget. It is estimated that even moderate changes in their budget and preferences can lead to massive investment in online marketing. Adding to the fact, there is a significant plus in online marketing and that is the measurement ROI (Return on Investment) which is quite hard to accomplish in traditional marketing. Using this calculation, marketers can gain some actionable insights and leads to stuff like cost, visitors, etc. Here are some activities your business can get involved in:

Host an online event or Webinar. Just because the event has been canceled doesn’t mean the message can’t be delivered. An online event can do so perfectly. At a time like this audience will be very satisfied and happy with such endeavors. For example, Digital Sales & Marketing World event was held on 6th April and it garnered quite many attendees.

SEO. Search Engine Optimization will be very important at this juncture. People are now going through a change and so the way they search online may also change. The highly searched keywords pertinent to the product must be added.

Video.  Zach Basner said “video is the only type of content that allows people to see us, to hear us, and to know us. This is why video makes a difference.” Video is the content that will connect business with customers more than other content.

Social Media Engagement. Increasing activities in social media will be beneficial in this period because it will keep the customers updated about business activities. Digital marketing will be the key player in this scenario because this the only way to remain with the customers and to gain a competitive edge over others.

 

COURSE OF ACTION

B2B e-commerce has been experiencing a massive surge in demand. Sales have increased by 52% and the number of shoppers by 8.8% since the pandemic has begun. Those businesses that were not online have gone online. Some of them are providing online services only since the in-person sale is not safe anymore. Customers are being informed through messages or emails about this. Due to the dire situation, businesses are now providing additional services. They are making delivery free and adding discounts on demanding products. All these are helping and adding value to the existing and potential customers.  The next step is to improve the B2B platform. The website needs to have relevant information about the products. Even the design needs to be customer friendly. Besides, the tracking process is also necessary. The customer needs to know when they will be delivered and where they are from time to time. The flow of the supply chain is also a matter of concern. The right web store host is essential for that. Also, businesses have to be careful about loading since slow loading causes customer dissatisfaction. In summary, looking from the customer will help the business reach a satisfying outcome. And for those who don’t have a website yet, it is the time to build one to seize this opportunity.

Coronavirus is a global situation. We cannot get out of this mess unscathed. This especially goes for businesses, but B2B e-commerce is different. The situation has played out for their benefit. Since people cannot go out right now, the demand for such online business is soaring. Day by day new customers are joining the parade, sales are increasing, profit is higher but that also depends on the customers. Their demands are the key factor in this play. Just like this is the time to gain customers, this is also the time to lose them if proper actions are not taken. Competitors will go harder; new competition will arise. The online ads will have to compete with games, texts, memes more than their competitors. The situation is something new that is full of scope but also filled with pitfalls and risks. But that is the case for every business. The higher the return, the higher the risk. So, we should follow Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

 

Written by

Hussain Imam

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