B2B e-commerce is the next big thing for wholesalers. Research has shown that the B2B eCommerce industry in the US alone is headed for a $1.2 trillion net worth by 2021 so it seems to be something worth investing in. The drivers behind this shift to e-commerce for businesses are the tech-savvy attitude of buyers and the magnificent efficiency an online platform affords.
How B2B companies do business is changing. Just a few years ago, wholesalers and distributors saw e-commerce as an afterthought. It wasn’t necessary for their strategy for long-term growth and success.
B2B companies today, though, are thinking of e-commerce differently. Online selling has become a way to increase revenue and drive new customer acquisitions. It’s a way to differentiate from the competition.
As B2B shifts from outbound sales to online inbound strategies, let’s consider some of the top advantages of B2B e-commerce over traditional ways of doing business. Whether you are just about to start, already selling, or still considering online B2B selling, you cannot afford to miss out on the offerings that a perfect B2B e-commerce solution has to offer.
Some of the Most Considerable Benefits of Having a B2B E-commerce Solution
- Scalability – An effective e-commerce solution will allow your organization to grow and scale easily to meet market demand and customer needs by opening new sales channels and continuously reaching new market segments. However, it’s not the same in other ways of doing business because of their limited scalability capability.
- Improved Efficiency – Through addition to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other back-end business systems, e-commerce provides marked efficiency for B2B organizations. Customers can order online at their convenience, customer service can focus on actual customer service functions rather than simply completing the takers of order, and the need to rekey data in independent systems is eliminated, thereby reducing the chances of errors, improving shipping processes, and increasing order satisfaction throughput.
- More Customers – A B2B e-commerce system with public-facing catalog pages is a strong and powerful way to reach new customers. Your future buyers not only have a preference for shopping online but will also demand it. As B2B buyers head online to find the best prices, manufacturers and distributors can grasp the power of the search—and therefore, they are ready to index pages of their e-commerce platform to locate new visitors and turn them into customers.
Improved Brand Awareness – Developing e-commerce solutions that can be safely margined by search engine crawlers is a rapid way to improve your e-commerce SEO and improve the probability that your target audience will know who you are. Push notifications, digital marketing, providing sharing bonus, and so many other mediums help business owners create amazing brand awareness opportunities, which is not the case in more traditional business models.
- Increased Sales – Not only can you reach new customers, but with e-commerce you can also easily implement an automated cross-sell and up-sell recommendation program, offering relevant suggestions to customers on the portal or application and motivating them to purchase related items or items with better or features and functionality.
- Enhanced Analytics – B2B e-commerce provides an organization with the perfect platform to launch a comprehensive analytics campaign. Through e-commerce, organizations can easily measure and evaluate marketing campaigns, sales effectiveness, product mix, inventory turns, customer sales effectiveness, and the engagement of customers. For example, Google Analytics offers e-commerce tracking, but integrating analytics with your ERP as well can provide you much more important data with actionable insights.
- Customer-Centric Experience – Amazon sets the standard for providing a phenomenal e-commerce experience and today’s online shopper expects an Amazon-like experience whether they are shopping for their personal pleasure or for business. While there are a few basic differences in experiences for retail shoppers and B2B buyers, B2B organizations still need to employ intuitive design, rich content, and interactive functionality in their e-commerce platforms.
- Exceptional Customer Service – E-commerce provides an extraordinary opportunity for a B2B organization to increase its customer service initiatives. E-commerce solutions can give access to self-serve portals with an account, order, history, and tracking information. Through combining with an organization’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, an ideal e-commerce solution can display customer-specific products, services, and pricing based on customer login credentials.
- Improved Sales Engagement – Your physical sales team will also benefit from the launch of a complete e-commerce effort. A B2B e-commerce portal or application will upgrade your sales team’s visibility into customer orders, pricing, and history while on the road or working remotely.
- Co-Branded Capability – Creating channel-specific or co-branded e-commerce sites is easy with the right B2B e-commerce platform. This capability allows you to offer a co-branded e-commerce platform for each of your distributors or key clients. It also allows a co-branded e-commerce platform for sites that cater to a specific international audience by presenting content in different languages or currencies.
- Widespread Accessibility – Perhaps you conducted business by attended trade expos, advertising in trade publications, or through sales representatives hitting the streets. Times have changed, and with the introduction of B2B e-commerce, suddenly your company and its products are more accessible to a much wider customer base. This is in part due to business customers being able to encounter your products through search engine inputs, but this is also due to the nature of e-commerce itself. It is designed for a screen, no matter the gadget, so you can be wherever the customer is, which is fantastic for meeting a customer’s needs as soon as they arise.
Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce not only provides a way for your customers to purchase your products online but also provides a host of other benefits for your organization. Imagine your customers, dealers, or distributors seeing both their online and offline orders in one place, managing their orders and budgets, and seeing their pricing and available promotions through an online experience. The ways of doing business have changed rapidly and the older approaches are on the verge of becoming obsolete. The sooner you realize it, the better it is for your business.