B2B eCommerce is exploding, with one recent report predicting 18.70% CAGR through 2026, at which point the industry will be valued at $18.57 trillion. As consumers become accustomed to digital, self-service business environments, B2B companies must migrate their people-driven sales and marketing processes online.
Given the size of this challenge, forward-looking companies need to prepare themselves for the switch.
Comparison analyses are great tools since they automatically highlight relative strengths and weaknesses. In a B2B company’s case, examining the current state of the market before moving online is a step in the right direction.
Here are five comparison analyses every B2B company must conduct before making the switch to an eCommerce platform.
Product and Service Comparison
eCommerce presents significant challenges to businesses accustomed to in-person interactions. Thanks to communication occurring entirely via online channels, important information can get lost. Furthermore, getting processes talking to each other is a challenge. For instance, processing a return requires your order management system and finance team to be on the same page, something that is a challenge when order volume is high.
The best way to create a state-of-the-art process is to compare your products to the ones your competitors are offering, along with the service options customers can receive. How are returns processed, and what kind of shipping options are offered?
Running a comparative analysis between multiple competitors will give you a good baseline. When rolling out features for your platform, you’ll always know where you stand. You can even introduce new features and market them as value-added features to attract customers to you.
Pay attention to how your competitors handle processes on the back-end. Automation is used extensively these days, but your employees must be trained to use these tools effectively. Comparing your competition’s back-end tool usage is essential to get up to speed quickly.
Competitor Marketing Analysis
Attracting online traffic is a significant challenge. Users have far more options online than in the physical world. Thanks to this, businesses must work extra hard to attract customers to their websites. Examining your competitor’s tactics and emulating them is a great way to instantly create an edge in the market.
Tracking metrics such as monthly page visits, traffic sources, and social media engagement will help you prioritize your marketing and sales efforts. For instance, one of your competitors might be receiving a huge portion of traffic from a single social media platform. Launching a presence on that platform will help you quickly attract customers and hit the ground running.
Market trends are also easier to decipher when comparing competitor marketing efforts. Is a traffic generation method slowly dwindling? Are your competitors’ paid ads performing better than in the past? This is valuable information you can use to improve your marketing efforts.
Technology and platforms are essential pieces of the B2B eCommerce puzzle. An in-person-driven business must invest in its employees to generate sales. In the eCommerce world, tools are just as important as your team. Your team will use these tools to figure out what your customers are thinking.
There is a wide range of tools available. Website analytics tools are standard, as are sales platform tools. Data collection and analysis should be standard if you want to make an impact. The rate at which tools are improving is significant, and comparing the tools your competitors use will help you quickly meet your sector’s baselines.
For instance, customer intent data is in high demand these days. Many tools help you figure out intent, all with different features. Correlating tool usage to your competitors’ bottom lines and revenues will help you figure out which tools are effective and which ones have room for improvement.
Your competitors’ choice of eCommerce platform is also an important piece of information. If everyone is using a particular platform, it might make sense to follow suit, as long as you haven’t observed any adverse effects in their businesses.
Every company uses slightly different marketing tactics thanks to appealing to different groups of people. The buyers every business deals with are also different, something that is valuable information for your business. Correlating demographic data to other datasets such as marketing and service comparisons is essential if you want to make sense of your market.
For instance, a company might be investing in a certain social media platform because it appeals to its demographic. If this demographic is not central to your business, it doesn’t make sense for you to follow suit.
Alternatively, you could expand your product offering to this new demographic and increase sales.
Following your competitor’s footsteps and improving on their weaknesses will help you capture a larger market share. Demographics change all the time, so make sure you run your reports periodically to avoid getting left behind.
The aim of moving online is to increase your bottom line. To this end, understanding the costs involved in an eCommerce operation is essential. Comparing the operating and capital costs of your competitors will help you understand the economics behind the move.
While every industry is gradually moving online, it might not make sense for you to move right now. If margins are low and your in-person approach is yielding good profits, expanding online in a controlled manner might be the best way forward.
There are many hidden costs in an eCommerce operation that often go unnoticed. For instance, the costs of losing a customer due to less than reliable customer service are often unnoticed. How much will setting up an effective customer service channel cost, and will it generate positive ROI?
Examining competitor efforts in this regard is highly instructive.
Prepare Before Launching
The key to a successful B2B eCommerce operation is preparation. There is a ton of data available these days, and using it to make business decisions is the way forward. Feed these data into comparative analysis reports to figure out the best way forward for your business.