What is B2B marketing?
Business-to-Business (B2B) is a business model that creates business opportunities, such as selling products or services between businesses and organizations. It is different from the B2C business model in so many ways.
To be precise, the B2B business model tends to be more informational and straightforward than B2C in its approach. This is primarily because business purchase decisions are based more on bottom-line revenue impact in comparison to those of consumers. Also, return on investment (ROI) is rarely considered for the everyday person, at least in a monetary sense, but it’s a primary focus for corporate decision-makers.
Key features that an e-commerce solution must offer to be considered a perfect B2B platform
1. Segmentation with profiles and customer groups
In the B2C business model, customers are generally treated equally. But that’s not the case with the B2B business model, because wholesalers deal in larger orders that vary from customer to customer. As a result, the strict group designation is required to these organizations for segmenting clients.
B2B companies must be able to classify customers into groups. This can be done by setting the price, the minimum requirements of any order, and by implementing group-specific content (like promotions, shipping and payment options) for each segment.
B2B segmentation with customer groups
Business owners should be able to group B2B customers based on their profiles, including
- Geographical location
- Order volume
- Catalog selection
- Reorder frequency
- Quantity of products ordered
And by segmenting them into specific customer groups, their shopping cart experience should become customized according to the profile they select. Filtering the content of the website, pricing, payment, and delivery options must be available for a hassle-free shopping experience.
2. Specific pricing and catalog for customers
B2B organizations can sell at prices based on customers or, as mentioned above, the customer group. And while you only separate the customers to customize the shopping experience, you’ll find very often the need to offer “special” pricing of products to your more demanding clients. This should not be confused with competitive pricing. That’s a completely different strategy.
The ability to set different base prices for any product in the catalog and assign these to specific groups of customers is the core of a B2B e-commerce platform and will be the difference between your clients completing their orders online and continuing to reach out via email or phone to fulfill orders.
To provide customer-specific pricing, there must be a customer-specific product catalog. For B2B clients who need a completely unique setup of products, or a pricing structure so unique that it cannot be built into existing products, you’ll want your e-commerce website to allow the creation of products that are exclusively available to certain customers.
This will also allow your business to explore the option to list a personalized product catalog for larger clients; for example, corporate uniforms or apparel can require listing products with your client’s logo instead of the default version of the product.
3. Bulk discounts and volume purchase
Usually, the products bought by B2B shoppers are in bulk, and while your products can be listed as packs, cases or pallets, you might still want to offer additional discounts based on the total quantity to be ordered. Your e-commerce platforms should also include a way to accommodate quantity thresholds that can allow offers and bulk discounts.
If you expect quantity discounts to work with specific customer price levels, then you might also expect to be able to determine different tiers for discounts, based on the groups of customers assigned to your client base.
4. Restricted access
There are many cases where you want to restrict access to your e-commerce platform, allowing only pre-registered clients to access content and products.
Look for built-in functionality in your e-commerce platform to set up a website that is password-protected, requiring customers to register as soon as they access it.
On a more granular level, the merchant has the power to control their main page’s visibility with features that empower you to hide prices and products or block an unregistered visitor’s purchases.
5. Minimum quantity for an order
A minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirement determines the lowest quantity of a specific product that the store is willing to sell. If the MOQ requirement is not reachable for the shopper, then they won’t be allowed to place the order.
This is common on wholesale websites where it’s necessary to reach a certain quantity per product to be able to place an order. The e-commerce platform should allow B2B merchants to set minimum order quantities per product.
Business can also require similar features like:
- Minimum amount on the order to complete an order
- A maximum quantity of order per product
- Specific quantity multiples for products being sold in packs, cases, etc.
6. Tax dispensation status
As a B2B e-commerce portal, it is more likely for you to run into the need to set up specific products, customers, or even an entire customer group as tax-exempt or non-taxable.
Following the Administration guidelines of US small businesses, “As a small business owner, you are required to assess sales tax, collect it and pass it to the appropriate authorities within the given time.”
To receive the benefits of tax exemption, the client should have a yearly exemption certificate. With this one file, business-to-business transactions can be tax exempt, as the main purpose of the order is to resale the purchased goods.
7. Wholesale bulk order form
For B2B customers placing large orders, especially for catalog and products by part number or stock keeping unit (SKU), instead of searching or browsing products one-by-one, a bulk order form has the capability to enhance the overall shopping experience just by adding a simple, instinctive way to place large orders on your website.
A bulk order form also has the ability to input SKU or part numbers into your website and appoint the product quantity. The process should redirect the shopper directly to checkout after adding all items to the cart.
8. Ability to reorder previously purchased products
Rather than wasting your client’s time by re-entering the same items from a previous order, offer a quick one-click reorder function in your e-commerce site. Directly from their “account” page or similar, display the most recent order(s) with the ability to start a new order that includes the same products from last time.
9. Pliable payments options
For B2B and B2C clients alike, getting paid appropriately for orders is important. But in the B2B world, an existing relationship exists with the client and not every business order can or should have an online payment process.
To help the needs of your B2B clients, you should also add offline payment methods like:
- Order of purchase
- Corporate Accounts
- NET 30 (60 or 90)
- Credit card on file
Launching a B2B e-commerce website will require your company to make changes. You’ll need to think differently about customer relationships. You’ll need to invest time and money, and you’ll need to choose the right e-commerce platform for your business.