Most manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors remain focused on using e-commerce to increase online sales, give their customers easier and faster ways to buy online and improve the efficiency of their sales force, according to a new global survey from Sana Commerce

B2B e-commerce continues to take hold and is becoming even more of an established sales channel for many manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.

Eventually, the goal for many businesses is using B2B e-commerce to expand internationally and open or expand in new markets. But for now, most manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors remain focused primarily on using e-commerce to increase online sales, give their customers easier and faster ways to buy online and improve the efficiency of their sales force, according to a new global survey of 559 companies in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere for B2B web services provider Sana Commerce.

The survey found that 84% of businesses now have an e-commerce site. For 48% of respondents, the top priority is driving sales, followed by improving the customer experience (38%), improving sales efficiency (38%) and improving business efficiency (37%). “84% of respondents are currently implementing or have operated a web store,” says Sana CEO Michiel Schipperus in a blog post. “This is, of course, a promising indication that the advantages of e-commerce are being recognized and leveraged.”

Most are focusing their e-commerce efforts on boosting sales rather than revolutionizing the way they do business.

Many e-commerce buyers and sellers are further along in achieving some goals and objectives faster than others, according to the survey. For example, 92% of companies are reaching their main objective of freeing up the sales staff, compared with 91% and 90%, respectively, of organizations that are using e-commerce to help improve operating effiency. In contrast, only 81% of companies have achieved their top goal of reducing the cost of sales. “Over 90% of organizations are successfully meeting the objectives they set out when implementing the solution,” the survey says. “Whether that was to free up the sales team, increase the volume of sales, improve the customer experience or improve organizational efficiencies, companies are confident that they’re achieving their technology goals.”

Other survey results include:

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  • Over a quarter of respondents who said they hadn’t achieved their objectives indicated that their greatest obstacles are increased competition (29%) and a challenging marketplace (26%).
  • Improving sales efficiency for 42% of respondents and driving sales (40%) are the main priorities companies have for completing any type of major e-commerce systems update.
  • More than half of the distributors surveyed said they were upgrading because they wanted to improve integration with their supplier’s systems.
  • 65% of respondents from the U.S. and Canada say they’re looking to introduce personalized product catalogs to fulfill customer demand for greater functionality.
  • Less than half of those who are implementing or have operated a web store are using data from their e-commerce platform to support or manage key business drivers
  • Nearly two thirds of respondents are currently using or intend to use an e-commerce platform to sell internationally.
  • While just over half offer multiple delivery options, fewer than half offer multiple languages and currencies, and only a third support multiple sales taxes and regulations.

“The numbers strongly indicate that while B2B organizations are not at the forefront of e-commerce development, they are actively working to improve their e-commerce offerings,” the survey says. “Most are focusing their e-commerce efforts on boosting sales rather than revolutionizing the way they do business.”

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