B2B ECOMMERCE   |   7 minute read

eCommerce is the future of wholesale: 6 reasons why

The B2B market is huge. The eCommerce industry is huge. B2B eCommerce is also becoming...huge! (Can someone find us a thesaurus?) So, why aren’t you taking your wholesale business online yet?

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We’ve gone through a list of reasons why you should wholesale online, and addressed a few of your online wholesaling questions, but you might still be wondering if B2B eCommerce is really here to stay. Are the future of eCommerce and the future of wholesale inextricably linked? We, along with major companies like Alibaba and Amazon know it’s not a fad, but a major shift in the way business will be done going forward. Here are just a few reasons why eCommerce is the future of wholesale:

1. The big guys are doing it

What’s the biggest indicator that B2B eCommerce is here to stay? Some of the biggest brands in the world have decided that B2B eCommerce is worth investing in. Let’s start with discussing a company whose name is practically synonymous with eCommerce: Alibaba.

They’re not just retailing online, but also wholesaling online. In 2014, Alibaba reported that a small-ish 11.8% of revenue came from wholesale. Not so impressive, until you do the math and realize that for Alibaba, even a paltry 11.8% actually equals US$1 billion. They’ve jumped on the opportunity, becoming the leaders in the current B2B eCommerce space, and their participation and innovation in the industry are moving B2B eCommerce forward.

Next, let’s take a look at IKEA. Although they aren’t a wholesaler, they recently changed their strategy to include a stronger focus on eCommerce. The company’s CEO, Peter Agnefjall, recently said they would like 10% of the company’s total revenue to be made online by 2020. “eCommerce will become a bigger part of our growth agenda. We also expect that we can get more customers to our existing stores and combine that with better products,” said Agnefjall.

This is from IKEA, a company whose entire strategy has historically been based on letting customers experience their products in person. If IKEA, a company grounded in physical stores, is refocusing their efforts on developing their eCommerce presence, it’s a pretty good indication that this whole eCommerce thing is serious. And IKEA knows what it’s doing; just look at its supply chain.

ikea is embracing eCommerce

When the big guys are devoting time and resources to wholesaling online, it has officially become more than just a passing fad.

2. The small guys are doing it

It’s not just huge retail or wholesale companies that are embracing eCommerce, either. Etsy, champion of all things independent, has developed Etsy Wholesale, an option for independent sellers to fill wholesale demand for their products. Businesses big and small have seen that there is an increasing demand for B2B to become more like B2C when it comes to shopping and flexibility.

For example, Nicole McIver, wholesale consultant and overall B2B expert, consistently sees a demand from wholesale buyers for a more “retail-like” experience:

Retailers often tend to spend more and have a more enjoyable experience when placing their wholesale orders online. It’s like online shopping for their store and who doesn’t love to online shop! 

3. It’s truly cost-effective.

Comparatively speaking, there are minimal costs to setting up shop online and selling online. Apart from the initial investment in systems like inventory management software and an eCommerce platform, running an online wholesale (or retail) business is highly cost-effective. And, with the future of online shopping encompassing automation at every turn, the opportunity for increased efficiencies in doing business are virtually endless.

According to a report by eConsultancy, companies polled have seen a 44% increase in average order value by moving customers online. Half of these companies have also reduced support and acquisition costs. The same report found that the more channels available to customers, the more money they spend, and the more loyal they stay. Whatever costs you will incur in the beginning should pay for themselves quickly and easily.

Nicole McIver explains further:

Having your existing website set up to accept wholesale orders can save the wholesaler and the retailer time, even more so if the transaction can be finalized and paid for online as well. There are a few options for an existing websites to start processing wholesale orders and many of these options will require small changes to your site and at no cost for website upgrades of plug-ins.

4. Even if people aren’t buying online (yet), they are researching online

Gone are the days when a potential customer would contact you with little to no knowledge of your company and the other options available to them. B2B customers are now researching online before even coming into contact with your sales team.

According to one report on B2B eCommerce trends, 89% of B2B customers use the internet during the buying process. That same report found that customers do an average of 12 searches on Google before they even engage with one potential company.

By moving your business online, you’re making it easier for customers to find you and do their own research, in their own time, at their own pace.

5. Customers want personalization

Online catalogs and websites with customized pricing and tailored storefronts give customers the personalized experience they’re seeking. Likewise, embracing social media as a part of your online strategy is key to providing a convenient and sophisticated customer experience. The same report on B2B eCommerce states that 75% of B2B customers surveyed said that social media has an influence on their purchasing decisions.

As the B2B sphere moves toward omnichannel eCommerce as standard, B2B buyers have accordingly come to expect a more sophisticated and complex customer experience from wholesale businesses.

digital is the future of B2B eCommerce 6. Print catalogs are so...old school!

As sad as it probably makes the writers and book purists in the world, digital is becoming the preference for all things word-related, and physical wholesale catalogs fall into that category.

The good news is that the move to eCommerce actually makes it easier to showcase your products. Selling online allows you to update your product catalog with a few clicks and show different product ranges depending on the customer’s preference. There’s also the added cost-cutting benefit of not having to print stacks of catalogs.

Take TradeGecko’s B2B eCommerce platform, for example. If you have a new product to add to your catalog, you can simply upload the product information and it’s automatically added to your virtual catalog, where you can select exactly which accounts see the product as part of their personalized storefront.

Hop online, give it a try

Generally speaking, the business world is progressing towards making operations easier, more connected, cheaper, faster and more effective. Wholesaling online enables businesses to do all of the above and more; so it’s safe to say that the future of wholesaling and the future of eCommerce will go hand-in-hand in years to come.

Have we convinced you that B2B eCommerce is here to stay? Have a look at our B2B eCommerce platform to get started wholesaling online!


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