B2B eCommerce : The End or Rebirth of the Salesperson?

by Nick Bareham, Territory Sales Director, Scandit

Before the harsh impact of COVID-19, global Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce sales were already projected to be over $6.6 trillion by 2020 – more than double the forecast for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sales. The growing importance of B2B e-commerce personalization within the manufacturing industry is clear.

The crippling restrictions on sales representatives from visiting customers have further intensified the urgency for B2B manufacturers to embrace technology and enable customers to have the convenience and safety of online ordering and reordering.

In our recent webcast, I discussed the changing B2B e-commerce landscape, particularly in response to COVID-19 and the current trend that’s ensuing towards empowering B2B customers with more intuitive, personalized and innovative online self-services. In this blog, I’d like to explore more about how this rising trend towards digital sales channels is not, as some suggest, the death of the B2C salesperson. Quite the reverse. In fact, it is actually a huge opportunity for the rebirth of the sales role. By enabling customers to complete administrative tasks like reordering and stock checking, salespeople are free to have less mundane and more meaningful conversations with customers about wider needs – ultimately adding greater value to deepened relationships and increasing sales in the process.

Digital Adaptation to Meet Changing Customer Demands

Convenient and easy-to-use digital self-service is the expected standard for B2C customers. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for B2B customers, where time-sapping, manual reordering processes – often facilitated by a sales representative – are traditionally the norm.

COVID-19, however, has put the spotlight on manufacturers, forcing them to rethink and adapt their B2B workflows to put customers in control of routine processes through B2B e-commerce personalization. In fact, according to McKinsey, the pandemic is accelerating the change in attitudes, with B2B companies now viewing digital interactions two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions. B2B e-commerce is clearly high on the ‘change’ agenda.

The same 2020 McKinsey survey also highlights that the length of the ordering and reordering process plus difficulty in finding products are two of the most frustrating issues with suppliers’ websites (36% and 34% respectively).

Delivering the same intuitive, on-the-go B2C e-commerce experience for B2B consumers is long overdue.

Barcode scanning and computer vision on everyday smartphones is a simple and cost-effective way to ease these pain points by delivering hassle-free and intuitive self-service solutions direct to a customer’s mobile device.

Scandit software enables barcode scanning, text and object recognition for enterprise apps on everyday smartphones, and delivers real-time insights through augmented reality (AR) overlays. It can be implemented incrementally to enable immediate impacts, while allowing room to refine user experience in the future. Here’s three ways we can help:
Add Barcode Scanning to any Website

1. Simplify Product Online Ordering and Reordering with Mobile Scanning

Gone are the days when customers want to sit with a sales representative and order or reorder products using an offline catalogue. Instead, they want to do this themselves, without any interaction at all.

With Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK for the Web, manufacturers can easily offer customers a way to order, reorder and track products online. Users simply navigate to the company’s website in any browser, on any camera-enabled device, scan the product and complete the ordering process. The right product is quickly and accurately ordered, with no need to search for items manually, or trawl through a long list of products.

Our SDK for the Web can be added to any website with only a few lines of code. And because no app is needed, it’s ideal for customers who don’t want multiple apps on their devices.
Fast, Reliable, Scalable Self‑Scanning

2. Give Customers Convenience with On-The-Go Reordering and Product Information

Buyers are showing a strong preference for self-service, “with suppliers’ mobile apps more than doubling in importance since 2019” according to McKinsey. This makes introducing a dedicated mobile app a smart move.

For high volume B2B sales, a Scandit-powered mobile scanning app gives customers the superior B2C experience they crave. Customers simply scan product barcodes with an app on their own smart devices and order the desired products in seconds. And because it works on everyday mobile devices, everything can be done on-the-go, speeding up the ordering and reordering process to give B2B customers the convenience they have never had before.

Adding an augmented reality (AR) overlay to the app enhances the experience further. By scanning products, customers can instantly view real-time information on their smartphone or tablet, such as product specifications, storage information or usage instructions.

Mobile Stock Checks with Augmented Reality (AR)

3. Empower Stock Checks With a Simple Scan

Even before COVID-19 impacted supply chains, sales representatives were often asked about product stock levels. Given the major disruption caused by the global pandemic, customers are even keener to understand the availability of certain products.

Without a digital link to stock level information, it is a hard question for a salesperson to answer, and even harder for the customer to find out themselves. Plus stock levels can change rapidly, meaning stock information given to customers may quickly go out of date.

With a simple scan of a product’s barcode, with a Scandit-powered app on any smart device, users can check stock availability in real-time, and order products instantly.

Our software integrates easily into any ERP system or e-commerce solution , making implementation simple and efficient.

Digital Transformation, One Scan at a Time

As consumer demands drive a digital revolution in the B2B sales industry, businesses will be under increasing pressure to offer the same, simple, efficient and reliable service as B2C sales channels.

Stay connected to read more insights in future blogs on the role of e-commerce in modern manufacturing. In the meantime, contact myself or one of the team to start a conversation.