Deciding to go digital: Should you (and can you) introduce an online store into your sales pipeline?

In today's evolving marketplace, B2B companies are increasingly turning to digital solutions to enhance their sales strategies. The integration of an online store is becoming a strategic imperative for businesses looking to expand their reach and streamline operations. Here, we explore the advantages and challenges of adopting e-commerce in a B2B context, backed by relevant statistics and expert insights. 

The Benefits of Going Digital 

Expanded Market Reach 

Digital transformation opens global markets for B2B companies. According to a report by Forrester, B2B e-commerce transactions in the United States are expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023, accounting for 17% of all B2B sales in the nation. By transitioning online, your business can tap into a growing segment of digital-first buyers who prefer the convenience and speed of online transactions. 

Enhanced Efficiency and Cost Reduction 

Introducing an online store can significantly reduce the cost of sales. A study by McKinsey found that digital customer care and sales are up to 90% cheaper than traditional methods. Online platforms automate many aspects of the sales process, from order processing to customer service, allowing B2B companies to allocate resources more effectively and reduce overhead costs. 

Improved Customer Experience and Personalization 

Digital platforms offer the tools necessary to deliver a more personalised experience to your clients. This includes customised product recommendations, tailored pricing models, and account-based marketing strategies. Such personalization not only enhances customer satisfaction but also increases the likelihood of repeat business, a crucial element for B2B companies. 

Data-Driven Decision Making 

E-commerce enables the collection of detailed customer data, which can be used to optimise marketing strategies, product development, and inventory management. This data-driven approach helps in identifying trends, predicting customer needs, and making informed strategic decisions. 

Challenges and Considerations 

Technical Integration and Management 

Developing and managing an online B2B platform requires significant technical expertise. Businesses must ensure their platforms can handle complex transactions, multiple payment methods, and integration with existing CRM and ERP systems. The technical barrier might require hiring specialised staff or partnering with experienced platforms specializing in B2B e-commerce solutions. 

Market Competition and Differentiation 

The digital space is highly competitive. B2B businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves through unique value propositions, superior customer service, and robust digital marketing strategies. Effective SEO and content marketing are critical in driving traffic to your online platform and positioning your company as a leader in your field. 

Logistics and Fulfillment Challenges 

Logistics in B2B often involve large orders, bulk shipments, and recurring deliveries, which can complicate the fulfillment process. According to a survey by Digital Commerce 360, 50% of B2B sellers found shipping and logistics to be the most challenging aspect of moving online. Developing a reliable logistics framework is essential for maintaining service quality and customer satisfaction. 

Security Concerns 

Security is paramount in B2B transactions, where large sums of money and sensitive corporate information are often exchanged. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures and complying with international data protection standards are critical to protecting your clients and your business. 

Should You Go Digital? 

The shift towards digital is more of a necessity than a choice in today's B2B landscape. However, it requires a careful evaluation of your company's readiness, market demand, and the ability to invest in necessary technologies. 

Can You Go Digital? 

With the right strategic planning and resources, any B2B company can transition to an online model. Key considerations include: 

  • Technical Resources: Access to or partnerships with technical experts skilled in developing and managing B2B e-commerce systems. 
  • Financial Commitment: Investment in digital infrastructure, cybersecurity, and ongoing platform maintenance. 
  • Operational Adaptability: Ability to adapt business processes to fit an online model, including customer service, logistics, and digital marketing. 


For B2B companies, the question is no longer if they should go digital but how quickly and effectively they can do it. By leveraging digital platforms, businesses can not only expand their reach and streamline operations but also provide a level of service and personalization that today's B2B buyers expect. As the market continues to evolve, those who embrace digital transformation will likely lead their industries in innovation and customer satisfaction. 


Forrester Research: "US B2B eCommerce Will Hit $1.8 Trillion By 2023." Forrester, 2019. This report outlines projections for B2B e-commerce growth in the United States, highlighting the significant increase in online transactions among B2B companies. 

McKinsey & Company: "The Coming of Age of B2B E-commerce." McKinsey, 2020. The article provides insights into how digital sales processes can dramatically reduce costs compared to traditional methods, and emphasises the efficiency gains of moving to digital platforms. 

Digital Commerce 360: "B2B E-commerce Market Report." Digital Commerce 360, 2021. This report surveys B2B sellers about their experiences and challenges in adopting e-commerce, with a particular focus on the complexities of logistics and fulfillment. 

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