Two huge Internet companies in existence have entered the Business-to-Business online space – Amazon.com and Google.com. Amazon.com debuted AmazonSupply, an eCommerce site featuring industrial goods in April 2012.
Google.com debuted Google Shopping for Suppliers (www.google.com/shopping/suppliers/), an eCommerce platform that helps shoppers find items tailored for their businesses in January 2013.
According to this article by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon and Google are fighting it out in the B2B eCommerce realm because that’s where the money is – in B2B transactions.
Until now, nearly 70% of B2B customers are buying from companies that offer no eCommerce options (data via The Future of Commerce). Let me iterate that – a little less than three-quarters of the entire B2B marketplace is buying from manufacturers and distributors who still haven’t enabled any form of eCommerce by the start of 2014!
However, with Google and Amazon testing the waters, it seems like the B2B eCommerce market is catching up, so much so that forecasts suggest that the B2B eCommerce market will be double the size of B2C by 2013. This is a real wake up call for B2B companies that have not considered selling their products online.
To give more emphasis as to why B2B organizations should get on the Internet, here’s a very apt statement from Frost & Sulllivan (global growth consultant firm), stating that “B2B online retailing is one of the leading global trends that will shape 2014.”
So, the B2B buying cycle can be extremely lengthy and complicated, adding on to the inertia contributed by the potential cost of implementation and conflicts between direct and sales channels for many organisations.
The stakes are high, but so are the potential rewards. Studies have shown that average value order increases by 44% when B2B customers are migrated online (data via E-consultancy). In a time when companies are struggling to find growth in the traditional channels, this may well be the best way to stand out from competition and chase sales opportunities.
Now that you know that the time has come for a serious commitment to connected commerce, there are a few issues to consider when approaching B2B eCommerce to get you ahead of your rivals:
The process of selling and ordering online is key to providing a smooth online purchase experience for your customers. It’s also essential to have solid operations in place to make managing transaction processes easy for your staff.
For example, adjusting pricing levels of products need to be a breeze, and functions to track orders and inventory are must-haves. If you engage your customers at this touch point by delivering a great user experience, it’s a step forward in getting them to move online and cultivate brand loyalty.
In addition, enabling easy content and product management on your eCommerce platform from the start will save money and add profit, as research has shown that the more channels customers can buy from, the more they spend and the more loyal they become (data via E-consultancy).
Opening a channel for online acquisition and retention creates new ways to market and reach customers. You get to optimise your organic and paid search on the Internet, as well as email campaigns and even social media platforms – it’s a whole new world out there.
Many businesses don’t consider the full impact of their marketing mix until the site is launched. Planning for this up front can shorten the time to generate online revenue.
Giving your customers the ability to control access, manage an order, track order statuses, and make changes on the move eliminates phone calls and frees your salespeople for more productive purposes.
Self-care portals should also provide your staff with opportunities to interact with customers for that extra ‘human touch’ should the situation call for it. Over time, your customers will become more familiar with the online ordering process, making it easier for self-ordering without any assistance on your end.
The B2C market has already proven the power of merchandising and marketing in driving extra sales. Once on the site, B2C style merchandising such as offering related products and personalised offers based on the customer purchase history can drive extra sales.
Consider selling on multichannel platforms besides the World Wide Web. The convenience of mobile access and the ability to place an order on mobile devices and tablets is also a growing trend.
As a bonus tip, it goes without saying that on-going maintenance and refinement of the site is required to keep up with customer needs. At the start and in the design phase, appropriate analytics should be set to track and measure success.
You can embrace big data analytics to constantly enhance customer experience for your buyers. Suitable tools to fix optimal pricing for your products, identify niche customer segments, pinpoint customer touch points, uncover obscure insights, and many more are readily available; a simple Google search should pull up some appropriate systems fit for your business.
Before tracking metrics and analytics for your eCommerce platform, you should also chart baselines against existing sales channels so that improvements can be monitored against goals.
And speaking of online B2B eCommerce systems, how can I ever leave out TradeGecko’s customizable, private B2B eCommerce software for wholesalers. You get to increase your B2B sales by providing a simple, hassle-free, and personalized purchasing experience for your distributors and retailers using this platform.
For each B2B customer that you invite to our B2B eCommerce software, you decide the products and product prices they can view on the system. Your customers can also place orders directly on the platform, allowing you to handle orders with ease because they can access their Orders History and track orders as well.
This system is also powered by the TradeGecko Cloud-based inventory management software, which synchronizes your inventory and stock levels across warehouses and pushes automatically updates through whenever an order is placed on your eCommerce platform. This prevents you from overselling or under stocking, truly amazing, isn’t it? Check this page out for more details on what our system can do for your B2B sales.
So, those who choose not to play this eCommerce field will wind up watching from the sidelines.
The question is: are you in or not?