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B2B Ecommerce: What Are the Risks?

B2B is changing.

Buyers are looking for an online experience — and 42% of B2B distributors are getting at least half of their revenue through selling online.

For any company that sells in the B2B space, there are only two options for the road ahead:

Getting started — or getting left behind.

But just like any new tech, ecommerce comes with its risks. And we’re here to show you exactly where they are.

Here are the worries that are holding companies back — and how you can overcome them:


What if our customers don’t get on board?

It’s a common concern — and we’ve heard it more than once.

B2B companies have established sales processes. They know what works, and they don’t want to risk upsetting the status quo. We often hear things like:

‘Our customers are happy with the way things are, and they won’t want to change.’

But the reality is completely different:

Studies show that B2B customers strongly prefer buying through online channels. They’re looking for less contact with salespeople — and an Amazon-like experience that makes the process fast, smooth, and easy.


What do B2B buyers really think?

83% have a strong preference for digital ordering

70% prefer ecommerce websites over sales reps

88% prefer an Amazon-style self-serve experience


So while it may be true that your customers are content, that doesn’t mean you’re giving them the best possible experience.

And if the vast majority of B2B buyers are looking for a modern ecommerce experience?

Ignoring what they want could be the biggest risk of all.


“Getting our customers on board was simple. I was nervous that we would get some pushback with the switch to online ordering, but we were pleased to see that fewer than 1% raised any issues at all.”

Mark Stevens, Marketing Manager at Richmond Containers


What happens if our ecommerce site fails?

This is another common concern. And from any company’s perspective, it’s completely understandable.

B2B businesses are often sold on the wonders of new tech and software. But when they get it off the ground and start using it, it’s not as reliable as they need it to be.

With a B2B ecommerce site, the stakes can be especially high:

Your ecommerce site will be the main point of interaction between your company and your customers. It’s responsible for a huge slice of your total revenue — which means there’s no room for error when it comes to stability and reliability.

So what’s the risk of a B2B ecommerce site going down?

We can’t speak for every other ecommerce provider out there. But we can say with confidence that it’s not a problem with Apparatus:

An Apparatus ecommerce site gives you:

99.995% uptime for nearly every customer

100% uptime on lots of sites

An in-house development team focused on maintenance

How do we do it?

It starts with our Methodology:

With every new customer, we take the time to dive deep into your business and the circumstances you’re starting from. That means we:

  • Assess your technology landscape
  • Understand your business processes
  • And complete a comprehensive risk register.


So before you launch your new ecommerce site, we’ll have our platform configured for your business and integrated with your systems — for a seamless launch, and continual performance without any hiccups.


What if our internal teams aren’t keen?

Most businesses imagine some pushback from their customers. And there can be pushback from your own teams, as well — especially when it comes to salespeople and their commissions.

But a B2B ecommerce platform isn’t just designed to make life easier for your customers:

It makes life easier for your teams, too.

A good ecommerce site won’t replace your employees. It won’t take their jobs or make their skills redundant.

Instead, it lets them focus on their most valuable skills — the ones that are more interesting, more engaging, and more rewarding.

They won’t have to spend hours on the phone taking the same orders every week. They won’t have to complete forms and enter data manually, or field basic questions about products and their specifications.

With an ecommerce site taking the weight of basic tasks, your teams will have more time to flex their higher-level abilities — nurturing relationships, connecting with new customers, and pushing your business forward as it grows.

Here’s how to get your teams on board:

Let your salespeople keep ‘ownership’ of their customers

Let them earn commission from ecommerce sales

Plan new goals and rewards for high-level skills (lead generation, onboarding, and customer retention)


A website can’t upsell or promote new products

We hear this a lot. And if you’re new to ecommerce, it seems like it makes sense.

You’ve spent years training your sales reps to be knowledgeable and persuasive — and to understand the needs of your customers inside and out.

But here’s the truth:

Your customers know themselves better than you ever could. And an ecommerce site gives them the tools to help themselves, leading to more satisfaction and higher-quality deals.

Research from Gartner shows that only 24% of buyers led by sales reps completed a high-quality deal — compared to 65% of buyers who navigated the sales process by themselves.

With powerful ecommerce features like personalised product ranges, a B2B ecommerce site can make recommendations to your customers based on their buying and browsing habits, as well as their specific department or site location.

And the best part?

With a self-serve experience, they can make their own decisions at their own pace, without the pressure of a human sales rep. So once they’ve made a decision, they’re more likely to be happy that they’ve made the right choice.


What if we don’t have the internal expertise?

Getting started with any new tech can be tough. And for a complex website, it can be one of the biggest challenges of B2B ecommerce.

But with the right planning and support, anyone can get started on the ecommerce journey.

That’s why we put so much time into our Discovery and Design phases with each of our new customers.

We first get a complete understanding of your vision and goals for your business. We then work closely with you to create detailed documentation of how your systems and processes work together — and how Apparatus can integrate and support those systems.

Here’s what we create with new customers:

Technology Landscape Matrix

Business Process Analysis

Data Exchange Mapping

A comprehensive Risk Register

And the result?

Our clients say that this detailed approach not only helps us to work better together — but it helps them get a better understanding of their own business, as well.


What if we can’t get our departments to align?

Just like with any company-wide project, it’s not always easy to get everyone on the same page.

A lack of clarity between departments can hold any project back — and it’s no different with a B2B ecommerce site.

For your project to run smoothly, you’ll need input from every area of your business, including:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • IT
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • And Customer Service.

And if they’re not fully aligned?

Your ecommerce site won’t become the fully functional sales channel it needs to be to succeed.

So how can you make sure your departments are on the same page?

It starts with the right planning.

With our Methodology, we spend a lot of time with our customers during the Discovery and Design phases — so we can get the full details of every requirement from every angle.

With a full understanding of both the fine details and the bigger picture, we can build a complete map of your business processes and systems flows — giving you a new ecommerce platform that works smoothly across every department and every team.


Need a partner to reduce your risk?

Just like any new venture, the move to ecommerce will never be risk-free.

But with the right support and guidance, you can do everything you can to minimise those risks — and move forward with confidence in your ecommerce journey.

Our teams at Apparatus have helped all kinds of B2B companies take their first step into selling online.

We’ve seen every obstacle, and we’ve solved every problem.

So if you’re looking for the experience of an ecommerce partner to help you navigate the risks of a new way of selling, we’d love to talk about how we can help.

Start a chat with one of our ecommerce experts — or book a live demo and we’ll show you what we can do.




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