The B2B domain can be pretty competitive and it can be pretty complex for a startup or mid-sized eCommerce organization to inculcate the right strategies, habits and basic understanding of what B2B eCommerce is. In this article we’ll dive deep into some of the most efficient B2B eCommerce strategies and understand the working of it. Let’s get right to it!
Table of contents
What is B2B eCommerce?
Business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce is an online transaction between businesses to place orders and request quotes to improve your buyer's experience and efficiency. B2B transactions can be between manufacturers and wholesalers, distributors and retailers, manufacturers and dealers, or B2B sellers and buyers. Since both parties involved are business entities, the transactions are more rational than impulsive. Furthermore, the relationship between the companies involves long-term interests.
What are the variants of B2B eCommerce?
Business models are of different types and identifying the right business model for your business can elevate your business to the next level. Here are the two core types of B2B variants:
B2B2C e-commerce model can seem like a complicated business model to hear, but in reality every average consumer engages with B2B2C on a day-to-day basis. When a consumer uses business 'A' to order a product from business 'B,' that is a classic example of B2B2C. Meaning, anytime you order from a business using a mobile application, it represents a form of B2B2C. Take your food delivery apps, for example. They sell their delivery service to a restaurant, and in return, they can sell their delivery service to the consumers.
B2B2B models can bring in new clients to your business at a faster rate. If you take your business online the newer generation customers will find it easy to reach you as they are more likely to be tech savvy and they take the time to find the optimum B2B2B partner. This can potentially earn you customer loyalty as a by-product if you remain consistent. All B2B2B models are connected with a CMS, which helps you to gather data and make the right decisions to connect with your customers. B2B2B has multiple payment types, which allows users to explore payment options.
Types of B2B eCommerce
As a company there are various means through which you can conduct your B2B eCommerce business, here are some of the efficient ways in which you can process them:
1. Dealer portal by manufacturers
The manufacturers appoint multiple sales channels like wholesalers, distributors, and retailers across geographies to increase their reach and sales. The produced product can reach consumers like in consumer electronics, or it can reach another factory that is also a business in industrial spares.
The manufacturers use the portal for their dealers or distributors to buy products from them and then further sell them to other businesses.
2. Direct to consumer marketplaces by manufacturers
Considering the digital adoption by many businesses, every manufacturer must have their own marketplace to reach their target customers directly. This approach will eliminate the number of sales channels before the product reaches its customers.
Manufacturers should still consider keeping the distributor's network to reach its customers with distribution locations as micro delivery centers to cover the entire country.
3. Spare parts portal by industrial manufacturers
When you sell your products to industrial customers, manufacturers need to set up a spare parts portal. It increases their customer experience as well as their loyalty to buying their products.
Service personal visiting customers can suggest and encourage customers to buy the products online, reduce selling costs, and increase profitability.
4. Distributor portal by wholesalers
The wholesalers do not focus on small value transactions, and their specialty is to reach large geography through further channeling the sales.
A good example is the distribution of food and beverages or consumer electronics products. They generally appoint significantly fewer wholesale partners for a country to distribute and manage their logistics.
5. Distributors setting up commerce for their retailers
Large sales teams cannot cover the number of retailers, and it is vital to reach them digitally. Retailer acquisition, onboarding, and then providing them with their specific prices are critical to increasing sales.
Myths about B2B eCommerce
There are so many myths that are surrounding B2B eCommerce which prevent people from getting hands-on with it. Here are some of the common myths being debunked to show why B2B is efficient:
1. B2B customers won't be comfortable buying online
Today, many of us have been buying products online as a consumer. Since the Millennials have to be part of our workforce, digital adoption increases for good—89% of the B2B buyers research products on the internet before they purchase.
Eliminate all friction for customers and ensure smooth self-service purchase possibilities. Adjust back-office wherever possible and adjust sales teams to focus on strategic selling rather than mundane order booking.
2. We will lose customer relationships when customers start buying online
B2B is all about relationship selling and absolutely no denial. So let us look at this scenario more deeply to understand how it works. All of us know Pareto principle work in business, 80% of business comes from 20%of our customers.
So how do we deploy our sales teams? Our best sales teams manage our top customers to generate and maintain good repeated & new sales. So is it not wise to make the transactions only performed online and sales teams continue to focus on relationships?
Yes. You got it right. Adding an online channel will relieve your sales team and allow them to reach more customers and build strong relationships.
What are the differences between B2B and B2C?
B2B and B2C business models have their fair share of differences, let’s analyze in-depth about each aspect of these models:
1. Customer Relationships
B2C businesses value efficiency and, therefore, minimize the amount of time spent getting to know the customer, which ultimately causes the relationship to become highly transactional. B2B eCommerce mainly focuses on building personal relationships that drive long-term business.
2. Marketing Cost
B2B marketing is usually a lengthy process that involves a long chain of command. After all, the decision-maker is often not a single person, which means B2B marketers have to spend more money.
B2C customers typically make quick, one-person decisions. This can save marketers a lot of time and money.
3. Buying cycle
B2C customers may only have to seek recommendations from family and friends. The purchase decision is usually made by one person and takes a matter of minutes. The B2B buying process is a different story. Accounting, procurement, and heads of several departments have to give the green light before a purchase is made. Because B2B marketers are not dealing with an individual, the purchase decision process can take much longer and become more complex each passing day.
4. Target audience
B2B businesses usually work in a niche market, and it is imperative to understand your target audience’s demographic. To effectively attract them, compile and analyze accurate data. B2C businesses work in a larger-scale market, and the target is much more spread out. Search marketers heavily weigh the importance of following the marketing funnel when acquiring customers.
What are the trends to expect in B2B eCommerce?
B2B eCommerce is evolving constantly and as time passes, new trends are coming up. These are some of the upcoming B2B eCommerce trends on the rise:
1. Acceleration of online B2B marketplaces
Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba.com, Etsy have dominated the retail B2C industry, accounting for more than 50% of global online retail sales in 2018. On the other hand, B2B eCommerce sales through websites and online marketplaces are accelerating, and growth is at an all-time high.
2. Expecting lightning fast orders
As more and more B2B companies cross the digital threshold, the need for fast and efficient fulfillment processes has become increasingly urgent. In a post-Amazon world, millennials are driving this demand. They expect B2B companies to provide quick shipping options on par with B2C merchants, with 56% of millennials expecting same-day delivery.
Whether we’re using mobile apps, mobile websites, or visiting in person, we expect brands to have the same experience every step of the way. B2B customers are no different, expecting omnichannel experiences throughout their long buying journeys. As more customers are using mobiles to compare price and features of products, this trend will continue.
4. Data analytics
Future shopping, payments and loyalty programs depend on reliance on data and analytics. As customer demands change, the reliance on demographics, location, and customers' situational data to make the best marketing decisions will be utilized, too.
5. VR and AR
VR (virtual reality experiences) and AR (augmented reality) is an advanced method of marketing. It allows customers to virtually try out and confirm complex products such as replacement parts or custom designs.
What are the benefits of B2B eCommerce?
B2B eCommerce is a vast domain that was brought in to simplify and scale businesses to a vast range of audiences. The benefits to reap from it are endless and here are some core benefits to take note of:
1. Reach more customers
Like we discussed Pareto principle, it is expensive to reach a balance of 80% customers who give you 20% business with physical sales teams. Hence, combining physical and digital channels is an excellent opportunity to reach more customers with digital campaigns and interactive B2B eCommerce landing pages to browse through the detailed product catalog online.
2. Upsell and cross-sell to your existing customers
Have you heard your customers saying that they were not aware that some of the product lines even existed with you? It happens when your customers couldn't spend more time with your sales teams in understanding the complete product line.
Your B2B eCommerce portals will help customers understand the range of product lines and provide intelligent upsell options when they browse through the catalog. More interestingly, they will get to see their negotiated prices or have an opportunity to request a quote online to negotiate a new range of products.
3. Increase digital sales
Making the portal public and getting the Google SEO done for your site allows you to acquire customers digitally and sell more. Even the B2B buyers are not looking for products in all social channels, and it opens up a new array of opportunities for B2B organizations.
An effective B2B eCommerce digital experience platform will enable your organization to grow and scale easily to meet market demand and customer needs by opening new sales channels and continuously reaching new market segments. By creating and testing compelling content for your targeted B2B buyers, you can deliver value and quickly respond to changes in the market.
5. Improved efficiency and productivity
Through integration to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other back-end business systems, eCommerce provides significant efficiencies for B2B organizations. Since customers can order online at their convenience, businesses can focus on customer service functions rather than simply being order takers. Also, automated ordering and workflows eliminate the need to reconfigure data in independent systems, thereby reducing the possibility of errors. This process further improves the efficiency of shipping processes and increases order throughput.
6. Faster delivery
B2B eCommerce solutions make the sales process more efficient for the seller and speed up the process for buyers. Rather than managing and tracking orders and inventory manually, a synchronized online system allows brands to sync data across all channels, automate fulfillment and inventory updates, and handle complex orders. This leads to fast, accurate, and transparent delivery and, ultimately, satisfied customers.
7. Reduce costs
A further benefit of B2B eCommerce software is the potential to minimise costs while boosting revenue. By taking the majority of your business processes online, the software saves time and money on areas such as order entry, customer service, and the provision of client information. Automating and streamlining processes boosts efficiency and eliminates unnecessary costs.
How to create a marketing strategy for your B2B eCommerce business?
Creating a B2B eCommerce strategy or plan is like a blueprint or guide for your business to follow and here are few strategies you can implement for your business module to get the best out of it:
1. Analyze your prospects
A more profound analysis can get you a lot of useful data out of the blue, and you can make use of this data for your B2B marketing ventures. A deeper understanding of your prospects and potential clients will legitimize you to deliver a better customer experience.
2. Real marketing persona
A marketing persona is a general characterization of an individual who is a part of the company's target audience and classifications like name, age, gender, interests, and purchasing behavior. This tactic goes both ways for B2B and B2C. Having this persona will help you cut down on time by helping to classify your target audience and making sure that your agenda and message reach the right individuals.
3. Stay true
This goes both ways for B2B and B2C marketing tactics. To acquire the trust of your target audience, do not bombard them with delusional promises that you most likely won't fulfill. Instead, tell them upfront and lay down clear expectations for your potential clients about the problems your product can address. Keep your marketing agenda simple and straight to the point.
4. Ads and landing pages
Landing pages should be an element to target for all marketing strategies of the B2B domain. When a potential lead lands on your ad, they should be directed to your branded landing page with appealing design and content.
5. Create an appealing site
This is probably one of the core marketing tactics for B2B eCommerce. Creating a user-friendly site with a definite design and informative content will take your brand to levels you didn't expect. You would be surprised at the number of brands that fail to do this. Less is always more; keep things simple, and it will help prolong the visits of your clients and hopefully push them into the conversion stage. A responsive website that supports mobile versions is always a plus point to your B2B marketing plans.
6. Running A/B tests
A/B testing simply refers to testing two different B2B marketing tactics simultaneously. A/B tests are a critical part of the finest B2B marketing campaigns. For best results, you should run them side by side simultaneously. This will give you the best chance to find out which B2B digital marketing campaign suits better for your business.
7. SEO campaigns
SEO is one of the best B2B marketing tactics. On-site SEO uses specific keyword phrases that specifically attend to your services and expertise. The purpose of on-site SEO is to rank for searched terms on search engines, making it easier for your clients to find you.
What is the future of B2B eCommerce?
Despite the pandemic, the future of B2B eCommerce still has a bright outlook. With technologies that make user-friendly, personalized e-commerce platforms possible, B2Bs are adding value to businesses of all types. While the pandemic has required a shift in processes, B2B marketers can capitalize on that shift to offer streamlined services and maintain competitiveness in the coming years.
Why choose Growmax as your B2B eCommerce platform?
Growmax offers different techniques and strategies to boost your B2B eCommerce business.
- The built-in PWA Mobile app is easy to use and install from desktop or mobile devices just like native apps.
- Growmax ensures that the platform will run at all times without any server downtime.
- The in-built support and field service allows you to reduce downtime, respond to customers faster and set up appointments to deliver exceptional field service experiences.
- Growmax charges no fees for transactions.
- Sales Rep app allows your sales rep to reps to facilitate a smooth sales process and deliver great customer experiences. Also leverage the sales rep app to keep track and monitor every activity and procedure related to retail execution from a single point. Furthermore, it helps your sales rep customize catalogs and exhibit products specific to each customer's eligibility and interest. Furthermore, apply customer-specific pricing to the products.
B2B eCommerce is here to stay longer to help you grow your business. Every sized business must set up its online sales channel to increase sales and reduce costs.
Increase your customers' purchasing experience and use your sales team more effectively to build relationships and strategically support your customers, whether online or offline.