Re-posted from North49.com blog dated Dec 11, 2020
eCommerce is LIFE in a Post-Pandemic World - Having your business online isn’t an option anymore.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that businesses need to be agile and prepared to adapt to unforeseen situations. Things that were considered luxuries or nice-to-haves before became crucial to survival. Being able to work remotely is the big one. While many businesses managed to cope with the demands, there were added pressures on digital commerce for both B2C and B2B companies.
While the end is in sight, we still have many months ahead until we return to what we once knew as normal. People remain isolated and the need for essential goods remains high, so, we all turn to online shopping. And what we once knew as normal may no longer be the norm.
This isn’t going to go away in a post-pandemic world. The convenience that customers are experiencing through online shopping that the major players are providing has created a “Gold Standard”, or at the very least, an expectation that your business must provide some level of online service or you will lose customers to those that do.
With many challenges comes opportunity. In the pre-pandemic world there was a disconnect between what buyers wanted and what businesses were providing. Now, the increased demand for online buying options has create an even greater opportunity where B2B businesses can thrive if they seize the opportunity.
The best-positioned businesses are those that embrace eCommerce, Mobile Sales Portals, Customer Portals and other consumer enabling technologies. The B2C experience is driving how B2B companies need to operate. Further, we see pre-pandemic B2B businesses adopting a hybrid model of B2C & B2B to better serve the end consumer and fill a void that was created when some of their wholesale customers did not or could not adapt. These businesses saw the benefit of bigger margins selling to the consumer directly but were also exposed to new challenges that are inherent in a retail space; again, requiring agility and adaptability.
As more people become exposed to the convenience of online shopping, a buying pattern is emerging that creates opportunity for B2B sellers. B2B businesses need to seize these opportunities by adopting technologies and approaches that were pioneered by B2C businesses. While not every business can have their entire operation virtual, many areas of the business can benefit from implementing contemporary technologies that bring their business online. Our readiness to use online tools, combined with continuing physical distancing rules, has created consumer behaviors that make B2B eCommerce ripe with opportunity.
According to McKinsey & Company more than three quarters of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions—a sentiment that is expected to intensify even after lockdowns have ended.
Health safety is, of course, one of the major reasons behind this. We agree with McKinsey & Company; self-serve and remote interactions have made it easier for buyers to get information, place orders, and arrange service. And customers enjoy the speed and convenience this provides - the new standard.
Employees have adapted to new ways of working, and your customers have new concerns and expectations that demand alternative ways of buying from you. Necessity has driven consumer behavior. Those businesses that are astute and adaptable will be the ones to reap the benefits when things return to “normal”. But it won’t be the normal we knew prior to 2020. These changes are here to stay. B2B businesses that continue to innovate during and after the crisis will build stronger relationships and grow their market share. The importance of bringing your B2B business online has grown steadily over the last few years to the point now, fueled by the pandemic, it has become table stakes; if you’re not online, you’re not in the game. Having your business online will not only help it survive, it will also allow it to thrive.