3 Things Print Distributors Should Know About eCommerce

September 17, 2018

Category: Best Practices

It’s no secret that eCommerce has made its way into the B2B marketplace at an exponential pace in the recent years. B2B eCommerce  and is expected to grow to $48 billion in the US by 2021 (KeyPoint Intelligence – InfoTrends). B2B buyers are expecting the same fast, easy buying experience they get when they shop at their favorite retailers when they are placing orders in the workplace. More and more B2B businesses are recognizing the importance of eCommerce.

Online tools and storefronts are making it easier for print distributors to give their customers what they are looking for out of their online ordering experience. It’s easier than ever to customize print, promotional, and apparel products online. Print distributors are able to create individual storefronts that allow customers to control the brand experience when placing orders.

While the print industry is beginning to realize the value of eCommerce, it’s been slower to adopt modern technologies than some other B2B industries. It may come as a surprise that while the adoption of web-to-print solutions hovers at about 64% in the US, only about 22% of print distributors print volume originated online in 2018.

Print distributors – now is your time!

If print companies are going to compete, they need to think about new ways to incorporate online ordering into their operations.

If you haven’t gotten started, here are three things print distributors need to know about eCommerce:

  1. Choose your partner carefully – They say it’s all about who you know, but when it comes to B2B eCommerce solutions for print, it’s about who and what you know. Consider a partner that has a deep understanding and knowledge of things like sourcing, integrations, and savings that they can get from larger networks.
  2. Start with your biggest, most complicated customers – If you are a large print distributor, figuring out what you do and do not need out of your eCommerce platform can be overwhelming. To make the process more manageable start with your biggest, most complicated customer. You’ll be able to determine what features and functionalities, such as branded experiences, complex approval rules, and customization, are important to your customers, and therefore to your bottom line.
  3. Create a simple storefront solution – If you are investing in eCommerce, you want to be sure that it’s going to provide a great ROI. While large, enterprise customers will help you increase online orders, you want to make sure that smaller customers also have a way to order online. Creating a simple storefront in addition to the custom, account-specific applications you’re building opens the door to more customers, and increases the amount of online orders.

While the importance of eCommerce in the B2B marketplace is widely known, there are still plenty of print distributors that haven’t capitalized on the technology. Print distributors have an opportunity to take advantage of modern technologies and make eCommerce a priority. Choosing your partner carefully, starting with complex enterprise customers, and creating a basic storefront solution are important things that print distributors should know when it comes to eCommerce.