Finding, reaching, and making your brand appeal to the ideal target customers – and doing so efficiently – is the great challenge facing the health industry with digital commerce.
Traditionally, health companies haven’t needed to think too much about finding customers – a “build it and they will come” approach has been broadly effective, especially when backed by a skilled team of sales representatives with good contacts with hospitals and pharmacies. But that’s changing as these businesses get busier and those responsible for making orders want convenience without necessarily wanting to speak to people.
Suddenly, companies in health need to compete with the transaction platform, because if they’re not innovating, then their competitors probably are.
And companies do understand the need to have a presence in ecommerce. As Gartner notes “disruptive buyer dynamics are rewriting the rulebook for B2B sales, demanding digital-first engagement with customers,” and those companies that can’t adapt will find themselves left behind by their customers – and 53% do report that they want to be more competitive in the market – but being able to differentiate in the ecommerce space is critical to maintaining volume when competition is all the more fierce.
While that’s just one sector, the transformational challenges and opportunities that FMCG see in B2B ecommerce are in many ways universal at some level across all sectors. As Gartner’s research shows, 44% of millennials prefer not to engage with a sales rep in B2B settings at any time, so every sector needs to prepare for this new reality, as millennials and Gen Z become the primary buyers within their organisations.
This is not to suggest that ecommerce is the only platform for B2B – as McKinsey notes the omnichannel approach to B2B is where success lies – but for many in B2B sales it’s the ecommerce platform that needs the most work to support the other sales channels.
For organisations that get it right and do offer a differentiated experience, the opportunities are there. McKinsey research also shows that where once orders were smaller on ecommerce platforms, that is also rapidly changing:
“About 70 per cent of decision makers are prepared to spend up to $500,000 on a single e-commerce transaction. At the highest end of the spectrum, however, we see meaningful movement: the number of decision makers willing to spend as much as $10 million or more has increased by 83 percent. This trend holds true particularly in China, India, and the United States, and in global energy and materials (GEM); telecommunications, media, and technology (TMT); and advanced industries sectors.”
Salesforce, through its Commerce Cloud, and supported by Cloudwerx’s customer-first approach to technology, offers the tools that will allow organisations to achieve this innovative differentiation through B2B platforms and ensure that health companies remain top-of-mind with their key customers.
As saturation increases, the focus on the customer experience becomes all the more critical. 56% of B2B decision makers believe that customer retention is the biggest value digital brings to their business. The two biggest underlying reasons that digital commerce helps here is tailored product offerings, according to 52% of B2B decision makers, followed closely by order automation (48%) (contact the Cloudwerx team for more information on how to deliver this).
McKinsey supports the need for that focus on both personalisation and the leveraging of data:
“Winning B2B companies invest in sophisticated marketing tactics, going beyond account-based marketing and disproportionately using hyperpersonalisation in their outreach (defined as providing unique messages to individual decision makers based on their needs, profile, behaviours, and interactions—both past and predictive),” the company notes. “They also invest in advanced technology stacks, analytics, and prescriptive insights to sales people to deliver unique offers on a one-to-one basis.”
Essentially, B2B decision makers see the customer experience opportunity in helping their customers cut through the noise and have a streamlined and time-efficient process for getting the right products.
An all-in-one commerce approach, like that offered by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, consolidates ecommerce, payments, and order management into a unified platform. This consolidation provides businesses with a single source of truth, allowing them to better engage with the customers and deliver that seamless experience.
For example, when businesses rely on separate solutions for order management and payment processing, they risk creating silos of data, resulting in a disjointed customer experience. With an all-in-one approach, data flows seamlessly across all facets of the customer journey, eliminating these silos and ensuring transparency. That transparency, in turn, allows B2B ecommerce providers to become highly targeted in the way they approach each customer.
When it comes to B2B ecommerce, scalability means having the flexibility to grow in the way that makes sense to the business. The health sector is firmly focused on increasing face-time with patients, and spending less time handling orders and other administrative tasks. Scaling the time spent with patients also means scaling the levels of orders, but this can only be achieved if the shift is towards self-service, and a customer journey that provides updates on orders and status at-a-glance.
Scalability means innovating with efficiency, in other words.
The most efficient way to achieve this is through an ecommerce platform that offers built-in templates, composability for flexibility, and headless APIs for precise control. When your commerce platform shares data with order management and payment systems, you can operate at peak efficiency. Planning for scalability with an all-in-one approach ensures you won’t outgrow any part of your integrated ecommerce technology.
Additionally, when it comes to adding new payment methods or expanding into global markets, an all-in-one approach simplifies the process. Rather than dealing with multiple vendors and the associated complexities, a single trusted partner manages your ecommerce and payment solutions, removing development burdens and ensuring compliance with evolving data and privacy regulations.
By working with Cloudwerx to help structure their Salesforce Commerce Cloud, B2B enterprises can develop a platform that focuses on finding and developing the right customers at its foundation.
Through Salesforce, B2B e-commerce platforms to adapt to various customer touchpoints. Whether it’s a web portal, a mobile app, or an IoT device, the platform can deliver a consistent and tailored experience. This flexibility enables businesses to reach customers through the channels they prefer.
B2B e-commerce platforms can leverage data about customer behaviour, preferences, and past interactions. With this data, businesses can personalise the content, product recommendations, and pricing for each customer.
B2B e-commerce platforms can develop better practices in delivering content efficiently. This is particularly valuable for educating potential customers about products, services, and industry trends. By delivering relevant and informative content through multiple channels, the platform can attract and engage a wider audience.
The advanced analytics available through the Salesforce platform can provide insights into which customers are most likely to convert, allowing the platform to target its marketing efforts more effectively. Data-driven decisions help in identifying and nurturing the right customers.
Security is paramount to Salesforce, with robust security measures, including authentication, authorisation, and encryption, to ensure that customer data and transactions are protected. This is critical for building trust and ensuring that the customer feels comfortable using the platform.
B2B customers’ needs and preferences can change over time. Headless architecture enables e-commerce platforms to adapt quickly by adding new features, payment methods, or customisations. This agility ensures that the platform remains relevant and attractive to evolving customer segments.
As McKinsey notes, innovation is critical in B2B ecommerce. “Winning B2B companies are more willing to experiment with new sales technologies and analytics capabilities. They constantly innovate, always seeking ways to become more compelling to customers while remaining efficient. And this innovation continues even amid challenging economic headwinds. Market share winners are 55 percent more likely to be planning to introduce cutting-edge sales technology such as automatic call logging with next-best actions or tools that prevent customer churn.” One of the greatest benefits of Salesforce as a platform is that it both enables innovation and remains on top of the technology curve itself.
The health industry has traditionally been one where sales have been people-driven, but this is changing, and the organisations that can successfully transform their businesses and develop a B2B commerce platform with a very B2C look and feel will be the ones that find it easiest to continue to find and engage with the right buyers.
Adopting Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and then leveraging the expertise of Cloudwerx in delivering human-centric solutions to the B2B ecommerce space, is the most effective way of delivering the necessary innovations and a platform that allows for a seamless, efficient, and truly digital sales process.