B2B Technology Is Simplifying: What It Means for Wholesale

Johnny Marx
February 3, 2015

From the relatively recent advent of touch screens and tablets to now hackneyed pronouncements of, “there’s an app for that,” consumers have driven the majority of technological innovation over the past several years. The “consumerization” of B2B technology is picking up speed, however, as a similar wave of innovation sweeps through the B2B landscape. For many wholesalers still dealing with the crutch of overly complex, clunky enterprise software and paper processes,

there is light at the end of the tunnel. A new mindset has taken hold, in which users themselves are demanding a better experience. As Deloitte observes in a survey on the topic, “in our personal lives, we are being provided with increasingly user-friendly and mobile technologies...we are coming to expect simplicity and clarity from all our commercial and personal online interactions.” Sales reps, managers, and directors, after all, are consumers themselves, and their new standards for convenience and ease of use are high. As B2B technology races to keep up with its consumer counterparts, software vendors are now creating applications that actually deliver on intuitive user experiences that resemble the apps we’re already used to having on our personal devices.

B2B Technology is Simplifying: So what does this all mean for wholesale?

1. Your buyers are looking to you for a better experience.

Just as you’re looking for an easier way of doing business on your end, your buyers are seeking the same. With the ball in your court, you have the power to offer the convenience they want in the ordering process. Wholesale brands that answer this call with mobile ordering applications and B2B eCommerce platforms will come out on top. In a study conducted by Accenture last year, 75% of B2B buyers surveyed stated that they would buy again from a supplier with an easy-to-use website.

2. Your reps are more frustrated than you realize.

Your sales reps might be spending a few seconds putting a personal purchase through on their Amazon apps one minute, and then scratching SKUs onto paper order forms the next, only to head back to their hotel after a long day of store visits to re-enter orders into your backend system. With that kind of dreary side-by-side comparison, it’s likely they’re also itching for a better way of working. Even for those sales reps who have been doing their job the same way for years, it doesn’t take long for them to adapt to a new system that’s truly intuitive.

3. You’re leaving money on the table.

Not only does B2B technology make your sales reps’ job easier and your buyers’ experience more convenient, it can also increase sales and productivity. Clunky analog processes mean time wasted and high opportunity costs. In the experience of one wholesaler, sales reps were wasting two hours every day on tedious tasks like data entry, looking up pricing information, making phone calls to the back office, etc. With their ten sales reps tied up in paperwork, this company estimated they were losing $20,000/day.

4. You stand to gain even more by monetizing your customer experience.

According to yet another study, the value of the customer experience appears to have surpassed cost as the top factor in a B2B purchasing decision. B2B buyers stated that they’re willing to pay up to 30% more for a superior experience, and 56% of those surveyed reported paying higher prices for a product in the last 6 months simply because they offered a better customer experience than companies offering cheaper options. The same survey found that 60% of companies that invested in new technology to change they way they interacted with customers experienced both increased revenue and a larger customer base. 61% saw an increase in customer loyalty. It all translates to more money in the bank.

5. Your competitors are waking up to the same realization.

This all may be news to some, but many wholesale businesses are already taking action. According to the Accenture study, 66% of B2B suppliers acknowledge that they must invest in eCommerce platforms and mobile services in order to meet new customer expectations. By implementing or upgrading sales channels that make it more convenient for their buyers to place orders and for their reps to write them, they’re bringing the experience of consumer technology into that of their business. At this point, it’s a matter of staying competitive or falling behind. As David Skok wrote in this enlightening article, people “used to say ‘I’ll deal with whatever system you give me,’ then they said, ‘I’ll bring a better system, just support it,’ now they’re saying, ‘I expect a system that enables a better way of working, deliver it.’” Questions about this B2B technology trend and what it means for your wholesale business? Let us know in the comments.