6 Things Wholesale Distributors Can’t Ignore about Mobile eCommerce

Monica Orrigo
November 13, 2015

As consumers grow more comfortable making purchases on smartphones and other mobile devices, mobile eCommerce is taking on a bigger role in all kinds of businesses, including those who concentrate on B2B sales. The mobile market is growing at a rapid pace. In just the first three months of 2015, mobile commerce grew by 10%. Currently, mobile eCommerce, or MCommerce, makes up almost 40% of total eCommerce activity, and that figure is only set to increase. With a projected market total of $700 billion by 2017, wholesale distributors can no longer afford to ignore Mobile eCommerce when it comes to their overall B2B eCommerce strategies.

Mobile eCommerce: What You Need to Know

1. Business booms for the mobile-ready.

In the world of B2C, retailers are already capitalizing on the shift to mobile eCommerce.  Big names in both online and brick-and-mortar retail are already reaching a wide swath of mobile users. Amazon, for instance, reaches 60% of total mobile users, and Wal-Mart reaches 25%. Indeed, successful B2C retailers are prioritizing mobile purchasing experiences so that they don't lose customers to technological shifts. Businesses that are ready for B2B mobile purchasing will boom in the same way. An improved purchasing experience proves to customers, whether individual consumers or wholesale buyers, that mobile is the future, and they want to be part of it.

2. Ease of purchasing makes all the difference.

For customers, the user experience makes all the difference. Seamless transitions from searching for a product to buying it ensures that customers stay on your website for the whole process. The proof lies in the “mobile conversion funnel,” which shows that 8% of products viewed on a mobile device will be purchased, while the same is true for 11% of products viewed on a desktop. This can be attributed to poor user experiences on mobile, as compared to desktop experiences. Companies must provide mobile-optimized ordering experiences to their retailers in order to build a strong omnichannel strategy that features a fluid integration between physical and digital buying and selling. In an omnichannel world, warehouses can fulfill online orders as well as orders taken by your field sales reps, and in-person sales meetings can lead to online purchasing, in ways that make every step of the process more convenient for customers and retailers alike. Increased flexibility across platforms will allow retailers to meet the needs of customers faster and more precisely. In the end, it shouldn’t matter if the order is taken in person or online, as long as it's taken.

3. Change is happening quickly—don't get left behind.

The massive transition to widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices should not be underestimated. It is happening rapidly, and it is having an enormous impact. “Smartphones are more than a convenient route online, rather as cars are more than engines on wheels and clocks are not merely a means to count the hours,” observed The Economist in February.  “Much as the car and the clock did in their time, so today the smartphone is poised to enrich lives, reshape entire industries and transform societies.” There are currently almost 3 billion smartphone users globally, and that number is projected to increase to over 6 billion by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, eCommerce is growing faster on smartphones than it is generally. Apple's iPhone generates about 10 % of US eCommerce activity alone, an increase of 12% in the first quarter of 2015 alone. A business that ignores these statistics is taking an unnecessary risk. It is time to embrace eCommerce, on both the B2C and B2B sides of business.

4. It’s ok to make the switch without relying on the competition.

Wholesale distributors who are eager and knowledgeable about mobile eCommerce are justifiably skeptical of using competitive, price-cutting marketplaces like Amazon Business. Fortunately, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions enable small and independent companies to directly sell goods to retailers. Accessible technologies lower the barrier for entry to B2B online sales.

5. Conversation is key, and mobile eCommerce can facilitate that.

There's nothing more important in business than relationships, and B2B eCommerce applications can bring people together. Instead of a one-step process without feedback, submitting an invoice becomes a conversation. In the place of paper invoices simply being sent in and fulfilled, an electronic invoice can be viewed by the seller and buyer simultaneously. This allows a conversation to develop—is this the optimal quantity?  When can it be delivered?  Are there better ways to do what we're doing? Sales reps can even suggest an “interactive quote,” or a draft order to their customers. Order notes can then give both customers and wholesalers the option to optimize their exchanges in real-time.

6. Omnichannel means higher value customers.

By giving customers many different ways to place orders, including via a sales rep, via a B2B eCommerce portal on the web, and via a mobile-optimized eCommerce platform, you are ultimately making it easier to do business with you. By providing access to a mobile eCommerce platform, for instance, you are allowing retailers to place orders on the go, or even when they’re in the aisles of their store, checking out which shelves are empty and which products need to be replenished. By making it easier and more convenient to place orders, you’ll see returns. Mobile eCommerce is growing rapidly, and its next big step will be into the world of B2B sales. Get ahead of the competition, and think about mobile. Questions about anything we’ve covered in this post? Let us know in the comments.