Statista predicted that B2B eCommerce sales in the United States alone would increase from $1 trillion in 2019 to $1.2 trillion in 2021.
The results, however, reveal even more encouraging news for the B2B eCommerce sector after the implementation of COVID-19, with 57% of buying managers spending more on marketplace eCommerce sites and 22% spending substantially more. Moreover, from $1.1 trillion in 2019 to $1.3 trillion in 2020, B2B eCommerce sales have increased.
However, selling to other businesses as opposed to consumers may be significantly different, especially in terms of the customer experience, marketing, and message involved.
In this post, we’ll examine B2B eCommerce strategies, and best practices, dispel certain myths, and clarify the distinctions between B2B and B2C eCommerce.
What does B2B eCommerce mean?
Online sales to other businesses constitute the B2B eCommerce business model. Contrary to B2C eCommerce, which involves companies selling to consumers. Because there are more stakeholders, orders are often more significant, and expenses are higher when using the B2B eCommerce model, among other things.
The manufacturing sector, where companies produce parts and sell them in bulk to other firms, is well-known for B2B eCommerce.
For instance, producers of microchips create components and market them to other companies. A single firm produces Apple iPhone microchips. These chips are bought by Apple, which utilizes them to make the iPhone before offering it to customers.
Alibaba and Quill are two examples of B2B enterprises with strong brands. Purchasing corporations in the B2B market depends on organizations with solid reputations or brands.
Whether they are tiny or medium-sized firms, B2B buyers know and trust Alibaba. Alibaba links buyers worldwide with producers of all sizes, often from China and other Eastern Hemisphere nations.
Quill, a retailer of office supplies in the United States, offers services to small and mid-sized businesses nationwide.
B2B eCommerce is expanding for reasons more than only brands realizing the potential of online sales. Unexpected events like COVID have compelled several businesses to change their product offerings and go D2C, or in this case, D2B. These shifts have also hastened the ambition of many B2B firms to start digital transformations.
Although manufacturing firms have historically reigned as the top B2B eCommerce brands, your B2B business can still profit from the business model. Segmentation and matching the correct product to the right persona are vital components of B2B eCommerce.
What key distinctions exist between B2B and B2C eCommerce?
Given the breadth of the eCommerce market, it can occasionally take time to distinguish between B2B and B2C. Nonetheless, each kind is distinct due to a few significant changes in the purchasing process.
1. Facts vs emotions in purchasing decisions
Unlike many B2C purchases, which are made on the spur of the moment, B2B eCommerce purchases are deliberate and logical. B2B purchasing decisions are based on the workloads of many departments and need precise data to determine whether the investment is worthwhile.
2. Individuals vs groups make decisions
Teams make B2B purchasing choices for individuals. Several departments will use the final B2B product once it is acquired. Thus the product selection must address a range of requirements.
In business-to-consumer transactions, a person buys to satisfy an emotional need or a single want.
3. Long vs short buying cycles (or complex vs simple)
In business-to-business transactions, buying cycles are frequently protracted and intricate. The seller, buyer, and other departments and people may participate in the process. Access to data that is most pertinent to various decision-makers is necessary.
4. Focus: Needs and Wants vs Convenience
After considering their wants and needs, B2C buyers select the product that best satisfies their demands. How much the product can help people is the procedure’s primary concern.
B2B buyers emphasize how a product will affect their company’s bottom line. Buyers will consider several variables, including how simple the transaction is, how handy it is for them, how quickly communications are exchanged, their capacity to finish the purchase, and the amount of information accessible about the goods.
Customer behavior changes are crucial to B2C eCommerce. Due to today’s consumer’s more impulsive and emotional nature, merchants must concentrate on factors including seasonality, order volume, order fulfillment speed, and inventory levels.
The stakes change somewhat in business-to-business eCommerce. Speed and customer conduct in virtually every matter. Instead, providers consider the sizes and quantities needed and the volumes and product variants each buyer will need for their business.
B2C items have prices that make it possible for customers to buy them rapidly. Unless sporadic discounts are intended to keep things moving, the sticker price is often the final price.
Depending on the buyer’s aim, many more alternatives are available for B2B pricing. Because specific items are more critical to a business than others, separate agreements are made to sell these products to each client due to the dynamic relationships between B2B buyers and suppliers. Depending on how long the deal has been in place, price discounting can be more complicated and include more significant reductions.
When B2C consumers purchase, a small item is probably sent to their door. Orders for B2B transactions are often placed in bulk since the buyer company will purchase based on its anticipated inventory and income.
It implies that additional variables are considered, such as the warehouse from where the order is placed, the shipping zones to which carriers may deliver, and the degree of customization needed for the order.
Distances significantly impact shipment capacity and cost, much like shipping in B2C. With B2B, however, there is more latitude regarding shipping.
B2B eCommerce businesses can employ flexible shipping and change shipping costs according to the shipment zone or the size of the items being transported. These tariffs are automatically determined for B2C clients, and modification is often impossible.
9. Buying volume: high vs low
In B2C transactions, purchases are often made for a single person, implying that only a single unit of the desired product is acquired. Yet, because businesses will utilize them to sell to other customers, B2B eCommerce purchases often have a significantly higher volume.
B2C eCommerce reporting contains the fact that a product is sold and the price is sold for. The purpose is to note the sale’s occurrence. There are many more things that are provided in B2B eCommerce.
Three different B2B eCommerce models
Although B2B eCommerce has its business model, there are a few variations.
1. B2B wholesale
When a company sells to another firm in quantity, one of the common forms of B2B trade is wholesale. It can include a lower cost, enabling the second company to sell individual products at a profit. It might work as the case with the semiconductor manufacturer stated earlier, where parts are required to manufacture an item like the iPhone.
With this business model, a manufacturer can collaborate with a B2C brand to sell their goods through the B2C website or physical stores when buyers buy Adidas sneakers through FootLocker or another merchant, as an illustration.
B2C2B is a newly developing model that entails switching from D2C to wholesale and B2B or incorporating this into current B2C models.
For instance, eCommerce shops that started as tiny direct-to-consumer firms market to specific niches. Popular companies might partner with an organization like Walmart to sell on a broader scale after establishing early momentum and proof of concept.
Having a B2B eCommerce website’s objectives
1. Reduce supply chain size
B2B supply chains can be extensive and intricate, comprising several intermediaries. With an eCommerce approach, businesses may automate many laborious and time-consuming operations, reducing the supply chain’s size.
2. Facilitate ordering
Online ordering allows customers to place orders without assistance from a third party or salesperson. The strain on both sides of the transaction is lessened by the ability to provide approvals, progress updates, and any shipment information electronically.
3. Enhance client satisfaction
Businesses now have greater accessibility to cross-functional data and analytics relating to content, sales, and more, thanks to B2B eCommerce. Customers can benefit from a more individualized and thorough experience thanks to the utilization of this data.
4. Make it simpler for customers to interact with B2B businesses
Businesses need a communication mechanism as all personnel perform business around the clock. Companies may continue to interact with their clients through B2B eCommerce by using a variety of content channels, such as live chat, video, written blog posts, and more.
5. Increase your sales team’s output.
Encourage your sales staff to prioritize initiatives that increase productivity above lead generation. Self-service, which enables clients to proceed through the funnel independently and receive support only when necessary, is made possible by B2B eCommerce businesses.
Due to the absence of an eCommerce platform, numerous manual sales activities and follow-up calls are eliminated. In the end, firms can lower sales costs, speed up operations, and eliminate bottlenecks in converting leads into customers.
6. Examine the scale
Sales procedures that are more effective create more significant space for expansion and scale. Due to the increased productivity brought on by implementing eCommerce, B2B companies may be better able to acquire data and concentrate on the correct growth-oriented projects. They can more accurately predict and satisfy the expanding market demands if they have a deeper grasp of their clients.
7. Reduce the price of providing customer service
E-commerce enables businesses to give consumers more helpful information, remove superfluous roadblocks in the customer journey, and concentrate their sales personnel on the most lucrative duties. All of this lowers the cost of providing customer service and enhances the standard of living for clients.
Also, doing business online enables firms to lower the expense of maintaining client connections.
8. Provide customers with lower margins or smaller orders
Every client a B2B company works with will have different margins or resources available to them. B2B enterprises will have more capacity and resources to serve their smaller clients by simplifying the procedures online and automating many once manual and antiquated operations.
9. Evaluate market hypotheses, gather input, and demonstrate the consumer desire
B2B firms can swiftly test concepts and tempt clients with new items thanks to internet sales. It is feasible to pre-sell a product online and determine prospective interest before producing on a broader scale instead of designing a product and then hoping it sells.
Who is helped by B2B eCommerce?
B2B eCommerce offers advantages to third parties, suppliers, and customers.
1. Improve client satisfaction
B2B eCommerce significantly enhances the consumer experience. First, clients can now access various alternatives thanks to an online product catalog. Also, this enables them to access previous versions of things to test and sample them before buying, making it simpler to contrast two products.
Also, ordering is considerably more straightforward due to the availability of several digital devices for placing orders, updating order statuses, and tracking shipments. Consumers may easily interact with their suppliers and offer extra input that will help develop future products.
Also, users may access order history and other information through an online account instead of many email chains.
2. Companies have more influence over their operations
Suppliers may streamline their supply chains by eliminating time-consuming and excessive procedures. It not only increases productivity but also improves resource management for them.
Also, B2B suppliers will be able to better manage their production procedures and foresee the requirement for fresh inventory.
Brands may lock customers into longer-lasting and more valuable collaborations due to the better customer experience, which creates a win-win situation and may result in bigger transaction sizes. Also, by increasing brand recognition, having an online platform enables businesses to reach a wider variety of consumers.
3. External parties may enter new markets
B2B eCommerce does not exclude third parties from profiting, even though consumers and suppliers are its primary benefactors. Some businesses will be able to provide complementary goods to others.
Their online presence translates into expanding access to new markets, the potential to offer services to new clients, and the capacity to work with other businesses to strengthen collective purchasing power. Some firms will also have the opportunity to expand their reach by entering a bigger market.
Best practices for B2B eCommerce marketing.
Follow these recommended practices to maximize your B2B eCommerce venture.
1. Integrate content with commerce
Avoid just leaving the generic manufacturer’s content alone. Instead, invest the effort in creating original and compelling content that draws customers, informs them about your offerings, and motivates them to purchase from you.
With eCommerce, leveraging several media formats, such as product images, product sheets, and video, to deliver the content your consumer wants is simpler. You may then employ your audience to produce original case studies for each consumer niche and draw in new clients.
2. Concentrate on the general customer experience
Create a buyer-focused FAQ that responds to their inquiries about your product. Develop group-based tailored content to ensure that each group receives the most pertinent information. Incorporate reviews and ratings into your content strategy to give your other potential consumers social proof.
Also, spending money on an SEO-friendly platform may make it simpler for clients to locate you. Getting your website at the top of search results entails paying attention to page load speeds, using structured data, building a short, clear, and SEO-friendly URL structure, and more.
3. Improve your consumer database
It should be easy for customers to find what they’re searching for in your catalog. Use segment-based pricing (such as requesting a quote) and offer suggested items based on visiting or purchase patterns.
Also, make the site’s search and navigation dynamic and user-friendly. For instance, displaying product stock levels may help customers plan their inventories more effectively.
4. Make the checkout procedure quicker
Make the procedure as simple as possible by allowing clients to pay in increments, divide delivery to various zones or destinations, or split payments as required.
5. Establish a user-friendly client gateway
The ordering procedure on your client portal should be as simple and user-friendly as feasible. To enhance the user experience of the portal, give consumers the ability to view purchase history, monitor orders from their account, and personalize their purchases as desired. Also, it must contain elements that improve the shopping experience.
6. Permit ordering in bulk
Making it simple for your consumers to purchase things online is the aim of B2B eCommerce. Keep them from a small number of sample sizes and then demand that they call a representative to make an additional purchase.
7. Enable automatic replacement and reordering
Except for a few peak seasons, repeat customers often maintain the same order volumes. It is time-efficient to have the option to click a button to duplicate an earlier order.
8. Enable personalized pricing (e.g. request a quote)
Many potential consumers will not, even though many purchasers already know what they’re searching for and the precise price point they must pay for particular order sizes. Give them access to this price data.
9. Permit incremental payments
Hefty purchasing orders accompany huge invoices. Allowing clients to spread payments across weeks, months, or the life of your contract will simplify it.
10. Permit split shipment to several locations
While direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses deliver goods to customers’ homes, many business-to-business (B2B) firms make orders with a single supplier. Still, they must distribute goods to several sites where several smaller stores are situated.
11. Provide an exceptional client experience
It should be easy for customers to get in touch with a person to get their concerns addressed and issues fixed as quickly as possible. Businesses may also develop a B2C-like purchasing experience with customer loyalty programs honoring essential partners. These strategies include finding methods to customize information for specific consumer segments.
Use the appropriate tools to carry out your B2B eCommerce strategy.
B2B eCommerce may assist in propelling your company to the top of your industry’s food chain or, at the least, create a delightful experience for your clients.
But, understanding the advantages and strategies for implementing a B2B eCommerce plan is only part of the struggle. Using the appropriate tools to execute your projects to position your brand and consumers for success.
If you wish to sell locally or internationally, Core dna’s headless architecture may assist you in customizing the shopping experience. It also integrates your inventory, shipping, and other capabilities to help you benefit from features that other reputable eCommerce businesses continue to make use of.