When it comes to e-commerce, B2B sales have lagged behind B2C, especially in industries like industrial distribution. But expect that to change. The B2B e-commerce industry in the U.S. is projected to hit a valuation between $1.8 and $2.77 trillion in 2020, passing B2C e-commerce sales globally that same year. With big players like Amazon Business and Walmart for Business entering the B2B e-commerce space, other distributors will be increasingly pressed to focus on their e-commerce platforms in order to stay competitive.
Today we’ll be looking at how we helped one industrial distributor get a head start by implementing e-commerce incentives to help them to get their B2B customers to start shopping online.
Changing Buyer Behavior with E-Commerce Incentives
This client has always been ahead of the curve (which is part of the reason they’re a massive multibillion-dollar powerhouse with a world-class reputation). Several years ago, they foresaw the digitalization of B2B sales and invested in migrating their entire catalog onto their e-commerce platform and building out the necessary infrastructure.
Online retail not only lowered their “cost to serve,” it resulted in a better B2B customer experience, enabling the distributor to more quickly and efficiently process orders. But there was one small problem.
Their B2B customers (and our client has a lot of them) were stuck in their ways. Instead of making use of the convenient new e-commerce platform, their customers were still trying to do things the old-fashioned way. Adoption rates were low.
The industrial distributor turned to us to help. The results were award-winning.
E-Commerce Incentives Solutions
There are several challenges that are unique to e-commerce incentives. How do you automatically assign points based off of purchases made online from a catalog with thousands of items? How do you personalize the digital? How do you train contractors and dealers, who may not be particularly digitally inclined, to start shopping online?
Luckily, we already had the incentive technology platforms in place to solve these problems.
Performance Tracking made for a responsive, reliable user experience by automatically assigning reward points for purchases made online, helping our client’s program to always stay in compliance. Additionally, Performance Tracking enabled our client to prioritize different products in their catalog by setting bonus point promotions for specific product purchases. This add-on incentive software module is an e-commerce incentive must-have!
Our client used Learn-and-Earn as a channel of communication to personalize the participant experience and make their e-commerce platform feel more interactive. With reward points for customer surveys and daily trivia, the distributor was able to stay top of mind and gain valuable insights about how they could improve their offerings. Plus, it made the customers feel like they had a voice and that their feedback was valued.
Incentive Solutions’ online reward catalog created a unique value proposition, with millions of merchandise items, travel opportunities, tickets to the hottest events, and even opportunities for a charitable donation. In addition, we offered exclusive business-related discounts at places like Sprint, Office Depot, and Enterprise that we knew would appeal to our client’s B2B customers.
How do you market an e-commerce platform to an audience who isn’t necessarily digitally inclined? We helped our client market their online loyalty program through a variety of mediums, with targeted print placements, national radio spots, and even a celebrity spokesperson. In addition, we helped them promote their program with digital signage, email marketing, and online ads.
So how did things turn out for our client’s e-commerce platform? E-commerce incentives, a great value proposition, and effective custom marketing got their B2B customers shopping online. And once they were familiar with the platform, the convenience of e-commerce, as well as the appeal of earning points, sent our client’s sales numbers through the roof!
- 77% of the target audience participated in the program.
- Total average order quantity increased by 319%.
- Customers who enrolled in the online loyalty program provided 665% more in monthly revenue.
The case study was named the Incentive Marketing Association’s Dealer Distributor Incentive Award for 2017.
Why E-Commerce Customer Loyalty Matters
Those numbers are pretty substantial, in and of themselves, but they point towards an emerging trend. B2B companies are finding that purchase volume for long-time customers rises drastically when those customer accounts begin shopping online, sometimes three times the rate of similar customers who purchase through physical outlets.
In fact, contrary to popular belief, online shoppers are more loyal, since they rely totally on trust. On an e-commerce platform, they can’t physically hold or test out the products they’re buying. Furthermore, they are trusting the website they shop with their contact information and credit card data. When online shoppers find a brand they trust, they stick with them.
E-commerce incentives help pave the way to getting B2B customers shopping online, building trust and customer loyalty in the process.