B2B eCommerce : Trends – Growth – Solution – Software
Why B2B ecommerce? Why have I chosen this topic? We are growing through a huge growth in B2B eCommerce vertical in the past that will keep on boosting the market in coming years. It would generate more profit than the B2C in the future. By 2020, the B2B market will see a growth of twice as large as the B2C market (source)
There are many ways through which B2B eCommerce business can benefit your organization, providing 24/7 self-service and selling round the clock to your wholesale buyers.
5 ways to Champion the B2B eCommerce
1. Use your website as a lead magnet:
Without leads, business is nothing. So let’s talk about how to best generate leads for B2B vertical.
User experience is as important for B2B as it is for B2C. For online business buyers the website is the first interaction point. The quality of images with clear description and user experience on the website will be an indicator towards the quality of your product and services.
The times where the lead generation was limited to few salesmen, are long gone. A well optimized B2B eCommerce website can reach to more people as compared to a salesperson.
Customers visiting your website should feel special. Following can be few sections to include to increase conversions:
- Provide them with a personalized experience by showing them their recently bought products along with recently viewed items based on their search history.
- Provide personalized & interactive support via different platforms like chat. So that customers don’t feel as if they are talking to a bot.
- In contact us page, ask them to submit their message with details. From there, the nurturing engine should kick in and send them a series of helpful content. That will keep the leads warm and drive conversion at the right time.
2. Use an effective Inventory Management tool
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, businesses have to be dependable. One of the big problems that companies face is low fill ratio for wholesale orders. This leads to customer frustration and ultimately churn.
This usually happens because the ordering process is not linked with the backend inventory systems. Frontend systems / teams are usually not aware of the inventory levels across their warehouses.
In order to solve this problem, either you can keep track of the inventory levels in a spreadsheet and provide access to the sales teams. Alternatively we suggest deploying an inventory management platform that’s capable of handling distribution management. Here is an example case study of a customer facing the same issue and how they overcame this challenge.
Following are the benefits of deploying such a platform:
- Real time inventory update :
An effective inventory management solution will provide real-time inventory update. This will help B2B businesses to know their product count in the warehouse(s). Once an item goes out of stock, the ordering system & sales teams will be made aware. At that point, alerts can be issued for the procurement teams based on the reorder points for the given SKUs. Procurement teams must also be following standard inventory forecasting techniques to ensure smooth flow of business.
- Avoid overproduction of slow moving products:
A company must check its inventory aging reports to keep a watch on less popular products & to gain visibility on fast moving items. Most importantly, it allows a company to never be out of stock as well as not overstock any items also. This also drives customer satisfaction due to timely fulfilment of orders.
- Effective sales strategy to clear non-moving SKUs:
B2B companies can keep a close watch on products which aren’t moving out quickly and as a result, can offer incentives to purchase those products in larger quantity.
- Multiple warehouse management :
Most of the B2B businesses store their products in different locations. So, to have an effective, accurate, real-time inventory control becomes more important. Here is a guide to manage multiple warehouses effectively resulting into complete customer satisfaction and high fill ratio.
- Manage orders based on priority:
With Domino’s 30 minutes promised delivery, your customers have no time to wait, they need everything now. In order to be successfully drive customer happiness, brands have to segment the clients based on their sales volumes, their credit score etc. That combined with order level indicators such as order date, distance from warehouse to customer, brands have to design their fulfilment process to ensure SLA commitments.
- Avoid Dead Stocks:
For perishables or products with an expiry date, it helps you track items which are near their expiry. Inventory systems will apply FIFO methods to clear the aging stock first hence lowering the inventory expiration risks.
Efficient Inventory is only possible with the help of a top notch Inventory management system. A good inventory management system will help you avoid human error in calculations.
Features of an effective inventory management system include:
- Multiple Channel management from single panel (Amazon, eBay, Shopify and more)
- Centralized Inventory Management with real time inventory Sync between B2B & B2C sales channels
- Centralized Order Processing
- Logistics Support with 3rd party Logistics such as FedEx, UPS etc
- Returns, Payment and analytical reports
- Batch order tracking
- Holiday rush planning
One such inventory management with all the above features is EasyEcom, an Omni Channel platform for modern Retail.
3. Don’t Sell but Educate Customers about your Products
The best way to sell to other companies is through consulting, helping them achieve their goals.
The brands are reaching consumers through digital marketing, enticing writing and by using different personalized marketing techniques to advertise their products. Business users are also consumers at some level and need same level of nurturing. Following are some examples on how to achieve this:
- Make tutorial videos to let customers know how your product works.
- Write powerful blogs relating to your business.
- Use strong quotes to attract more visitors.
B2B Content marketing is an art of using content in order to expand your business audience and strengthen brand relationships which as a result will help you drive traffic and sales by engaging other businesses.
4. Let your loyal customers be your sales team
A good customer service can help you turn your customers into a powerful sales team, to bring in new business. This starts with providing an exceptional product or service which customers appreciate.
Ones they like your product, they will have a story to spread across their network, sharing experience about the services that they receive. Give them a reason to talk about your product by providing an extraordinary experience which they cannot resist talking about in their network.
5. Take advantage of social platforms
Increase in the use of mobile phones and social media has transformed our way of living in recent years. It is all about comfort and satisfaction now.
Regardless of target market, present age is using social media channels (like, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, etc) for promotion and communication. Utilizing these free platforms by making different strategies to engage customers can be a cost effective strategy for marketing.
Social sites on being the fast communication channel, will also allow you to manage customer inquiries quicker than ticket submission or support service calls when implemented properly.
Facebook, being a lone wolf in social platform with more than 2 Billion active users, is a great medium to connect with people from all over the world for business. It can be used to share photos, videos, important updates, web content. Target your audience, through their advertising platform based on their location, age, behavior, interest and more. This will help you get your content in front of right audience.
Let’s break down eCommerce Growth
eCommerce has been growing at an exceptional rate across the globe. Shopping is addictive, being able buy from the comfort from your home / office is whole another convenience level, hence the growth.
Let me tell you that there are 6 types of eCommerce business models:
(1) B2C: Business-to-Consumer
(2) C2C: Consumer-to-Consumer
(3) C2B: Consumer-to-Business
(4) B2A: Business-to-Administration
(5) C2A: Consumer-to-Administration
(6) B2B: Business-to-Business
These types have been receiving global exposure through different websites like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Olx, and more. B2C Ecommerce has already gone both mobile and social, allowing sellers to get a global presence, making it much easier with the help of Omni-channel platforms. Likewise, businesses also want an ease and comfort to search for other businesses to deal with.
B2B Websites like Amazon business and Alibaba have been running successfully for past 20 years, coming up with new features, making businesses simpler and giving your products a global recognition.
Industry Example for B2B: Alibaba
Alibaba is one of the leading B2B organization from China, it has made a rapid growth in both local and International markets.
– Alibaba, founded by Jack Ma in 1999, is one to the top 10 most valuable companies in the world.
– With its presence in around 240 countries, Alibaba has marked an annual growth by 37 million active users to reach 552 million.
– It targets both on buyers and suppliers internationally. While, it targets local buyers for suppliers selling within China.
– It has launched its website in several other languages to expand further.
At present social sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube are no different from discovering new people/ businesses. Growing your business and going global has become simple, regardless of where you are.
These requirements aren’t b2b specific. We know that it applies everywhere and are the major needs for businesses to grow. So, let me now take you to b2b specific ride next.
Latest Trends in B2B eCommerce
B2B ecommerce is becoming more like B2C
We know that B2B transactions are universally more complex as compared to B2C and many medium and small sized b2b companies find their businesses lethargic, with no idea on how to globalize.
Consumer purchase has become a lot easier with growing digitalization, making it faster and more convenient to order the products from anywhere and getting it delivered at the doorstep. Whereas, business purchase happens over a long period of time, involving long term relationships. It is all about getting the best deal for the company.
Expectations of business have changed with time and it has started appearing more like the retail consumers. Soon the standard practice of B2B will not be accepted and the B2B transactions will start happening just like B2C i.e. online and through open marketplace platforms.
Let me throw some light on how you can make the complexities simpler with B2B by making the process digitized:
– Provide personalized experience to your customers
– Send text messages to chat and save time on meetings
– Enlighten them with your product features
– Provide them with pricing transparency
All these things have become simpler with time and technology.
Industry Example: Amazon
There are many eCommerce brands going both B2B and B2C.
Amazon being one of the biggest B2C eCommerce platform has already launched its wholesale marketplace. That is again a third party marketplace type of platform where businesses can place their wholesale orders. This has improved the ability of B2B customers to get wide range of options to buy from, domestically and international both.
Amazon’s entrance into the B2B market has accelerated the trend of B2B websites becoming more like B2C.
Few other top online global B2B marketplaces are Alibaba, Thomasnet, EC21, etc.
B2B is all driven by tech now
In the last 20 years, eCommerce businesses have changed the way we transact and we know that in the fast-paced world of the internet, companies have to work sooner or they will be left behind.
Having a mobile integrated application is a must to keep your visibility on for professional growth. With an increase in digitization and usage of mobile phones, the business can reach out to their leads in one click.
B2B eCommerce platforms usually include features such as:
– Efficient self-service, for completing online orders or setting up recurring purchase orders to process automatically.
– Providing B2C like experience for easy order, order tracking status update, and the ability to perform transactions on any device.
– Offering a complete end-to-end solution, from resource management to quote management.
– Personalized view for customers to their products, warranties, manuals and related parts and inputs.
B2B as an open marketplace
If you remember, 30 years back, the businesses were mainly listed on yellow pages and classifieds and were restricted to a particular area.
However, with time, the B2B market has become more like an open marketplace wherein businesses can reach out openly to deal with other businesses through internet connection. It has become more like a full transact platform with a user friendly interface, similar to B2C’s.
Customers these days are very clear on their purchase. Especially, B2B clients always do their research and then plan on buying a particular product in bulk.
Whether your customers are buying a specific product or in bulk, make sure your website works great with all the processes, like,
- Having quick order checkout option is a must
- Allow order customization with the help of a quick order form as shown in the image
- Include multiple payment options like net-banking, credit card, digital wallet payments and more.
Yes! our daily activities have changed with time. Let me take you to older time when there weren’t much of technologies available. How people used to deal with their businesses.
Amazing right? I wonder where these techy geeks will take us in the next 10 years! If you have got any future tech idea, do feel free to comment below, I will be happy to get in touch with you.
With a huge upgrade in technology with time, we still find some downsides with b2b ecommerce platforms.
B2B eCommerce platforms shortcoming:
Lot of b2b eCommerce platforms are available in the market, whether you want to go global or local, the choice is yours!
– Amazon, being a king in eCommerce industry (Click here to learn about Amazon’s latest monster moves) has launched its Amazon Business across the globe. (Now in US, UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Japan, China France, and India)
But there are a few shortcomings while only advertising on Amazon.
- Firstly, the people who would reach you will be Amazon clients.
- No access to the buyer details and this, as a result, will limit you from contacting them again.
- Brand promotion through Amazon store will not be same as promotion through your own website. And there are a lot of competitor products put up with different prices.
- Selling only on Amazon site might limit your business growth.
- Fierce competition due to open marketplace
Due to these issues brands are increasingly considering selling on multiple platforms. In order to successfully run such a business, you will require a multichannel sales management solution like EasyEcom. The B2B growth depends on various integrations, so does B2C for shipping services, order management, accounting and more. But as per a survey on marketing channels working for B2B ecommerce has revealed that B2B ecommerce website has the highest share of 86%. (Source)
Where do we go now? (in terms of B2B eCommerce)
With a rapid growth of B2B, their online purchase in wholesale segment will rise by 20% in coming years. As per a research from Forrester, they have estimated the B2B ecommerce growth will hit $1.2 trillion by 2020. As the trend is shifting from B2C to B2B, the eCommerce sale in B2B will make 200% increase in sales as compared to B2C. (Source) If you are a brand, it’s time to keep iterating your business model and adopt the changes in the market.