Wholesale, B2B Ecommerce

eCommerce is the future of wholesale: 6 reasons why

BY Crystal Gilliam 17 Dec, "15

The B2B market is huge. eCommerce is huge. B2B eCommerce is also becoming...huge! (can someone find me a thesaurus?) So, why aren’t you taking your wholesale business online yet? You’re still waiting because you think this may just be a passing trend.

Like most things on the internet, how do you know that B2B eCommerce isn’t something that’s a big deal now, but may fade away as time goes on?

We’ve gone through a list of reasons why you should wholesale online, and addressed a few of your online wholesaling questions, but this last doubt remains: Is B2B eCommerce really going to grow as quickly as they say it will? Will it continue to be a good way to do business or is it actually just a passing fad? We, along with major companies like Alibaba and Amazon know it’s not a fad, but an actual shift in the way business will be done going forward. Here’s why:

1. The big guys are doing it

What’s the biggest indicator that B2B eCommerce is here to stay? Some of the biggest brands around have decided that 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 is moving B2B eCommerce forward.

Next, let’s take a look at Ikea, which isn’t a wholesaler. However, they have recently changed their strategy to include a stronger focus on eCommerce. The CEO, Peter Agnefjaell, recently said they would like for 10% of the company’s total revenue to be made online by 2020. He’s stated: “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.”

This is from Ikea, a company whose entire strategy is based on letting customers experience their products in person. A brand with huge stores full of demos to touch and feel. Stores with couches that bear the imprints of thousands of butt trials and endless rows of products like lamps, tables and shelving that just make you want to shout: ahhh, will the choices never end?! I don’t care anymore, just please help me locate Box 3 of 3!!

ahem, I’ve digressed. Back to the point that if Ikea, a company grounded in the physical, found it necessary and important to develop their online sales channel, it’s a pretty good indication that this whole eCommerce thing is really serious. 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

And it’s not just huge companies that are embracing eCommerce, whether it’s retail or wholesale. Etsy, champion of all things independent has developed Etsy Wholesale, an option for these independent sellers to fill demand created for their supply. 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!

-Nicole McIver, wholesale consultant

3. It’s truly cost effective.

There are minimal costs to getting online and staying online. Apart from initial investment in software and possibly a few more computers and mobile devices for your company, getting online won’t actually cost you much. And it’s not so much about what getting online will cost you - it’s about how much money you’ll save, and how much more you could be making.

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 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.

Anything that allows customers to become more knowledgeable will most likely become the new normal. 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 more personalization

Online catalogs and websites with customized pricing and up-to-date information give customers just that - personalization. Embracing social media as a part of your online strategy will also add to the personalization that even B2B customers require these days. The report on B2B eCommerce states that 75% of B2B customers surveyed said that social media has an influence on their overall decisions.

As the world becomes more connected, it makes sense that consumers are moving towards a desire to have their wholesale buying experiences more personalized and to get to know the company they’re buying from on another level.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 wholesale catalogs go into that category.

But this move to digital actually make it easier to show off your products. Moving online allows you to update your product catalog with a few clicks, not to mention avoid printing stacks and stacks of catalogs.

Take TradeGecko’s B2B eCommerce platform as an example. If you have a new product to add to your catalog, you simply upload the product and it’s added to your existing products, no reprints necessary.

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 is all these things as compared to wholesaling offline, so why, after having a taste of the good life, would wholesalers ever go back to doing things the way they were done before?B2B eCommerce isn’t just a passing trend - with the way things are looking, seems it’s going to be THE way to wholesale within the next few years.

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


See Also: 

8 reasons you should move your wholesale business online immediately

9 questions you have about moving your wholesale business online (but hesitate to ask) 

How does Santa Claus manage inventory: An eBook


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