It’s an exciting time to be a business-to-business (B2B) player. Forrester research predicts e-commerce sales for this industry will reach $1.2 trillion within the next few years – a staggering 13 percent of overall B2B revenue. Digital opens plenty of new doors for all types of B2B distributors, janitorial and sanitation (JanSan) included.
But it’s also a confusing time for decision makers in the B2B JanSan world. Most JanSan distributors recognize the need to embrace digital offerings, and they know intuitive shopping experiences earn them more consumer dollars and loyalty.
However, many obstacles stand in the way of providing such e-commerce offerings. Some hurdles are internal. JanSan vendors worry that website enhancements are too expensive, or they lack buy-in to move forward. On an even more emotional level, many JanSan decision makers simply don’t know where to start and are overwhelmed by the idea of picking e-commerce solutions from such a highly saturated marketplace.
Then there are the external challenges – namely Amazon’s quick entrance into the B2B JanSan arena, as well as existing competitors’ headway with e-commerce. Already, half (53 percent) of JanSan distributors have an e-commerce presence, according to a recent Essendant report.
Without a website that enables JanSan buyers to research and purchase, you will lose business to Amazon or other digitized distributors. Despite this pressure – or maybe because of it – many JanSan decision makers feel paralyzed and fail to update their e-commerce footprints fast or with a great deal of strategy.
If you’re one of these distributors, Essendant can help.
What should my JanSan e-commerce site look like?
Whether improving your digital offerings or going digital for the first time, sophisticated, powerful e-commerce sites don’t have to be expensive or exhaustive. Many Essendant solutions are turnkey, meaning we do the heavy lifting for you. This empowers you to start small with your e-commerce updates, break up services across groups and earn compounding benefits over time.
We also get that you’re busy and cannot always set aside the time required to manage your e-commerce presence in ways that dramatically improve your website experiences. Our project managers and consultants are available to support your e-commerce goals and propel advanced digital strategies. Essendant services provide many of the experiences JanSan buyers have come to expect.
Here are a few exciting capabilities to consider:
- Online product catalogs: It should go without saying that your e-commerce site must have all products available in one place, as well as smart search capabilities to make sense of this information. A full product catalog with complete, up-to-date descriptions and images gives shoppers the resources they need to research your products and convert.
- Personalized product recommendations: Help buyers decide what’s best for them with personalized product recommendations based on their own data, including purchase history, browsing history and more. This means you must invest in robust data collection and digital analytics tools. But, considering the number of JanSan distributors options at market, new technology is a small price to pay for an opportunity to build premium relationships with buyers.
- Configuration capabilities: B2B companies are complex, and so are their JanSan needs. If your website doesn’t allow shoppers to configure orders – perhaps a buyer wants a modified type of floor cleaner for his office – they won’t hesitate to find alternative purchasing options. JanSan buyers have benefited from customizable e-commerce experiences elsewhere for too long now to settle for anything less.
- Easy ordering and reordering: Similar to configuration capabilities, B2B JanSan buyers expect simple, fast fulfillment experiences. Features like easy ordering and quick shipping are like washers and dryers – once you go in-unit, there’s no going back. Buyers will turn to competitors if your checkout is complicated or if, for instance, they must re-enter personal information with every purchase.
Seventy-six percent of JanSan distributors say they already foster customer loyalty via relationship building, according to Essendant research. But there’s more every JanSan company can do to personalize shopping experiences and speak to buyers’ B2C sensibilities. The surest way to build long-term relationships with buyers is to offer them shopping experiences worth coming back for – that means seamless customization of e-commerce platforms that help buyers find the products they prefer most.
To learn more, contact your Essendant Account Manager or an Essendant representative.
By Toni Green, Director, Digital Services, Essendant