Over the last couple of decades, marketing practices have undergone a revolution. Brick-and-mortar stores lose business daily to online retail / eCommerce websites. Planning an online marketing strategy is critical for success--even for neighborhood stores and restaurants. Companies need an online eCommerce storefront to remain competitive. Everyone else is doing it, so business owners need a workable online plan. No matter what a company sells--including services, food, pizza, high-end merchandise or alternative products--the ability to sell to hundreds of customers simultaneously 24/7 saves time, increases revenue and substantiates a business as a legitimate modern enterprise.
Getting online is critical to establish a given company as trustworthy. If consumers can’t find a company online, they tend to consider it marginal and not to be fully trusted. In decades past, a big storefront, billboard ads, television commercials and big yellow page presence legitimized businesses in the eyes of consumers, but those traditional marketing outlets are now borderline. Some still generate business, but they don’t legitimize a business the same way that a functional and well designed website do.
Companies that need an online eCommerce storefront, like Clarity eCommerce, can start small and add features as their online business grows. The startup costs are low when compared to other business expenses such as buying property and inventory and hiring staff members. There are no vehicles or buildings to buy, and many companies start out with only one person handling the digital duties. Most eCommerce sites start around $10,000 and go up from there--less than the cost of an exhaust system.  The longer companies wait, the further behind they’ll fall while their competitors attract loyal customers that might stay loyal for a lifetime.
Local business is now mostly done online. GPS marketing and posting restaurant menus online are common practices. Customers use their phones to find the nearest seller of a given product and to read online reviews before taking a chance on an unfamiliar business. People who don’t live close can easily order products online such as clothes, shoes, videos, albums, books, gifts and much more.
B2B Companies Need an Online eCommerce Storefront
Online sales are even more indispensable for B2B companies, manufacturers and distributors. Business buyers now research products and companies online. B2B eCommerce development is estimated to reach $9 trillion in 2018 in the United States alone.  B2B companies are selling products on multiple locations, such as marketplace platforms, and it’s just not possible to brand a company or its products without an online presence given consumer preferences for using their phones to do business. The benefits of online eCommerce for B2B companies include:
- Increased sales prospects all over the world
- Better control of the purchase order process
- Integration of customer self-service features such as in-depth product research, multiple payment options, onsite shipping connections and custom ordering
- Analytics that create a holistic profile of each customer
- Targeted email marketing based on each customer’s profile
- Faster quotes
- Custom pricing tiers
- Supply chain transparency
- Real-time inventory figures
- Ability to track shipments
- Qualified lead generation capabilities
- Faster reordering of products and supplies
The list of benefits goes far beyond the above list, and the big lifetime value of some B2B customers makes it unthinkable not to be online to compete for this business. About 71 percent of B2B buyers look for products with organic internet searches, so companies need an eCommerce business site to compete.  Everything that website visitors do on a website is well documented and stored in the database. This information can prove critical for generating leads, remarketing and promoting seasonal sales. About 79 percent of leads never convert--mostly because of indifference.  Leads can get lost or end up being ignored. A functional website ensures that companies never lose information that can be used to land a sale. That’s why an integration platform, like Clarity Connect, is important to connect your online storefront or marketplace with your back-office line of business apps, like Quickbooks, Oracle, Salesforce, etc.
Reduce Costs with Online Sales
Online marketing reduces the costs of a sale for both businesses and buyers. Customers no longer need to travel long distances to buy products. They can view catalogs online, read reviews and testimonials, negotiate prices and place orders using their phones--with no traveling. Companies save tons of money because they don’t use as much paper, and all processes are streamlined including billing, store checkouts and getting approvals for special orders. The efficiencies of technology greatly reduce the need for staff resources, so companies save significantly on payroll or can assign people to work on revenue-generating activities. The biggest benefit is that if done well, companies can get their products in front of millions of potential buyers, something their brick and mortar location can’t.
Making Time for Online eCommerce
Everybody isn’t an expert in digital technology, but you can always hire an experienced developer to do the job for you. In fact, that’s almost always a better strategy for beginners. The right vendor will help you through the process by designing a functional and easy-to-navigate website, training staff and testing the website’s performance on multiple operating systems. You can add other features as your online sales grow--especially if you choose to build an integrated site with modular capabilities. Give Clarity a call today and let us show you how you can get an affordable online B2B eCommerce property and start growing your business.
 Allbusiness.com: It’s Time to Add an E-Commerce Channel to Your Small Business
 Digitalcommerce360.com: Mapping $9 trillion in U.S. B2B online commerce
 Protocol80.com: 33 B2B Marketing Statistics Show Why Your Current Strategy Blows
 Ironpaper.com: 20+ Sales Statistics that Matter for 2018