Digital sales channels for complex B2B offerings – a myth or an opportunity?

B2B buyers have gone online! B2B and B2C buying processes converge! Online stores are taking over B2B sales!

Having followed the trends of selling expert services, I have not been able to avoid hearing such claims. There is truth in them, at least if the surveys of consulting firms and big enterprises are to be believed. According to Gartner (2019), for instance, B2B customers spent 27% of their total time in the buying process on researching alternatives independently online. Instead of magically turning into another person when entering their office, B2B buyers always carry their consumer personality with them. According to a study by Salesforce (2018), professional buyers increasingly expect the same personalised, effortless and high-quality buying experience they are used to in B2C context. This means that B2B companies should also offer their customers the opportunity to buy independently online.

Despite surveys, Finnish B2B companies still seem to be quite sceptical toward online stores. And for good reason, since an e-commerce concept copied as such from consumer business just doesn’t work for many companies. It is easy to make standard catalogue products available for ordering, but what about complex configurable offerings?

If calls for tenders come from multiple channels and if the website, at least based on website analytics of customer behaviour, is a key source of information, it would be of utmost importance to invest in the development of a digital sales channel. On-demand e-commerce solutions offer the opportunity, for example, to implement a more advanced bidding tool. In this way, many things can be automated and customers provided with the effortless experience they expect! Customers can explore the product and service offerings, build a customised solution based on their needs, and submit a call for tender or even place an order. The seller will be delighted because for once they can make an offer based on appropriate and sufficient information – or the order process can be fully automated.


Customer-driven sales channels

Customer-driven sales channels are particularly important when it comes to services. At least I myself, as a consumer, buy the services I need – beauty care, car maintenance, take-away food, etc. – from companies that make buying easier. Being a Finn, I find the mere fact that I can book services online without having to talk to a customer service representative even more important than an affordable price. And, I do not think that I am alone in this!

In the B2B business, the same applies, for example, to buying aftersales services or spare parts. If they are not readily available, the customer might go elsewhere. Digital sales of aftersales services can mean, for example, making the spare parts catalogue available online or providing an intelligent service request tool. The most advanced businesses serve their customers through IoT solutions even before the customer is aware of their need. A survey by Salesforce (2018) asked B2B buyers about the importance of such a proactive service. The result showed that customers are 3.2x more likely to view proactive IoT services as important versus unimportant.

A good B2B e-commerce platform needs to be modifiable to serve all such needs. This is one thing we at Wapice learnt after 2018 when we launched the Summium® Selector platform for smarter B2B online stores. With nearly 20 years of in-house sales experience with CPQ systems, we wanted to offer the same ease of configuration for online stores serving end customers. We believe that digital sales channels that provide an effortless customer experience have a lot to offer also for industrial companies selling complex products.

Welcome to learn more at the free webinar organized by Wapice (in Finnish)


23.4.2020 klo 9.00-10.30

Webinaarissa kuulet kuinka teollisuuden edelläkävijä Beamex Oy on digitalisoinut huoltopalveluiden myyntiä!

Ilmoittaudu mukaan:

State of the Connected Customer Report, Salesforce (2018).

The New B2B Buying Journey, Gartner (2019).