Is there need for both B2B eCommerce and a mobile ordering system?
By Lizzi Benger, Aspin
Across any distribution sector, this is frequently discussed. How many sales channels does one business need to get their products out of their warehouse and onto the shelves of the retailer? Having a detached understanding of the obstacles that distribution businesses face has been the basis of our success from day one and we want to share our findings with you to benefit your business strategy.
Let us start with exploring the sales representative. Mobile sales reps can manage your accounts in person by visiting the customer site to advise on existing lines and promote new ranges. During this process, a rep can build a rapport with the retailer and establish a concrete relationship. People buy from people. Can a website really do all that all on its own? Let’s explore.
A B2B eCommerce website is a reliable sales channel which enables retail customers to place top-up orders in between rep visits. These top-up orders can be placed any time the customer wishes, and the ordering portal can serve the customer when they are running low on time to see the rep. Your eCommerce website can give the retail customer up-to-date account information and history, stock levels and the ability to place an hour – 24/7. Can your rep be with every customer, 24 hours a day? We have our doubts.
Ok, so you’re telling me what I already know. We have reps and we’re implementing a B2B eCommerce website which either they or the customer can access.
Unlike a B2B eCommerce website which is designed to be accessed from a device with a guaranteed Internet connection, a mobile ordering system is designed to be on the move with the rep and ensure access to data at all times regardless of the level of connectivity available to the device. Consequently, it is often not effective to send a rep out with a laptop and a B2B website login as 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connection is not guaranteed. If the rep finds himself in a position with no internet connection, he could miss out on opportunity to take an order. Which business wishes for that?
Therefore, each sales channel is incomplete without the other and renders your customer buying potential unfulfilled and subsequently only semi-complete. Granted, with one sales channel you will likely make sales but what we are urging businesses to realise is – are you fulfilling your sales potential, and is your customer fulfilling their buying potential? The option to buy from a sales rep only leaves the retail customer restricted to the reps’ availability and can often force the customer to begrudgingly allocate time during 9-5 to deal with the sales rep. Your sales rep could quickly be becoming a nuisance and have your customer looking elsewhere for a supplier. Give your rep the tools and the chance to be the best they can – because on the contrary, without a team of reps, your retail customer has no choice but to be satisfied with some sort of cyber relationship with a website and telesales. As I said earlier, which business wishes for that?
It all sounds a bit confusing and disjointed if you ask me. How can we keep track of all these newfound orders and their original source?
Two sales channels need not mean fragmentation of orders. Electronic orders coming from an integrated mobile ordering system and integrated B2B website can arrive in the same ‘data bucket’ for processing. Head office will be able to identify the source of the order (field sales or eCommerce) and historical figures for the overall customer account activity can be sent back to both platforms to give the rep and the customer an accurate overview of the account.
The combination of the two sales channels enables your maximum sales potential to be reached. Consequently, the customer feels completely in control of their selling process and will place orders with increased value and frequency.
If you are interested in exploring the compatibility of a mobile ordering system and a B2B trade eCommerce website with Aspin, please contact us on 01794 500 200 firstname.lastname@example.org.