What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when we say Ecommerce? The chances are you think of companies that deliver products directly to customers. While it is true that B2C has held a significant proportion of the E-commerce market, this is now changing. Now, more and more B2B E-commerce stores are springing up. It has also been predicted that B2B is likely to grow faster than B2C companies in the coming future.
Why start a B2B E-commerce business?
Do you wish to realize the potential of E-commerce? Rather than opting for a B2C industry, enter the B2B sector instead. Why do we say so? Here are reasons why you should start a B2B Ecommerce store.
Size of the industry
When we say that B2B E-commerce is expected to grow immensely, we mean it. Look at these forecasts. It has been predicted that the industry will reach a staggering value of $1.2 trillion. While traditional channels of B2B selling are still preferred, B2B E-commerce will soon signify 13.1% of total sales in the US market.
The reason why E-commerce is poised to grow is that B2B customers too are getting accustomed to technology. As traditional modes of transaction slow them down, an E-commerce model better suits their needs.
Generally, when you think of B2B customers, you imagine businesses conducting transactions with one another. But, you forget that these businesses are run by people who might assume a different role in this industry but still crave the same thing, i.e., convenience. This is precisely what an E-commerce business delivers.
Having a distinctive advantage
Even though E-commerce is a lucrative option and expected to grow, still you won’t find a lot of businesses around introducing E-commerce solutions. This allows companies who do offer such solutions to have an advantage over others.
Think about it. You can tap into a broader segment of your target audience through this model. Moreover, since B2B customer craves self-service, an online store is more suitable to them compared to talking to a sales representative every time they have a query.
A customer-focused approach
E-commerce solutions are focused on customers. What many people don’t realize is that B2B is more customer-centric than B2C. Why?
Well, for starters, here you are dealing with companies. These companies indulge in bulk buying. So, each sale constitutes a significant proportion of your revenue. One lost sale means you are missing out on a lot of money. Hence, it is integral that you keep the needs of your customers before yours.
Moreover, B2B customers expect dynamic pricing. Here, the decision to give you their sales depends on the offer you make to them. A fixed price model cannot thrive in this industry. E-commerce, equipped with modern day analytics, allows you to offer dynamic prices to customers based on their purchase pattern and history. This creates a solution where the customer is indeed the king.
If you are adding this solution to your business, rather than solely delivering this selling channel, E-commerce is still preferred for better customer experience. There is a lot that customers can do on these platforms.
This includes finding information about products, comparing prices offered, and easy ordering items, etc. These features of an E-commerce platform ensure that your customers are given a personalized service, which is bound to boost sales.
Tools to help thrive your E-commerce business
Are you on board with the idea of starting or adding a B2B E-commerce business to your current model? To succeed in the world of E-commerce, you need the right tools. Here are seven essential tools that can take your E-commerce business to new heights.
We can’t stress enough how crucial it is for you to select the best eCommerce platform. The quality of the experience you deliver will depend on this. Why do we consider this as a tool that would help in growing your business? This is because while it is easy to find E-commerce platforms, the right tool is the best Ecommerce platform.
Shopify Plus is a great E\ecommerce platform, regardless of what size your business is.
You might be used to hearing about Shopify in reference to B2C companies, the truth is that Shopify’s B2B solution succeeds in ticking the right boxes. For instance, since it is an international platform, it allows you to expand your B2B business to a wide range of markets. Even if you aren’t planning to develop today, having this tool ensures that scalability is never an issue with you. This is why we consider it to be an excellent tool for E-commerce.
Here are some features this tool offers:
- Ability to create an E-commerce store that works flawlessly on a wide variety of devices regardless of the screen size.
- An open API system that allows merchants to integrate their CRM into the platform.
- Delivering Shopify Pay for faster checkout than before.
- Offering multichannel marketing and sales.
- Ability to personalize aspects of your store, including the checkout process.
- Allowing B2B stores to create custom price lists and discounts based on volumes to individual customers.
- Setting increments based in quantity.
- Syncing orders with the inventory management system for effective tracking of orders.
OrderHive: Order Processing and Inventory Management tool
The best way to know which means you can use to improve your Ecommerce business is by observing the characteristics of your customers. Regardless of whether you have an online store or a brick and mortar shop, managing inventory and processing orders swiftly can make all the difference, even in b2b.
Therefore, you need an analytics tool that can help you know which of your inventories need your attention. Orderhive is a tool that can come in handy.
This inventory management software works for small and medium corporations alike. It can integrate with your Ecommerce platform and link orders, customer data and inventory across various channels.
This feature helps in effectively managing the back-end operations of your store. Via it, you know which products are popular and hence need to be stocked more. Since b2b orders tend to be large, this helps in never letting a customer down.
Moreover, the software also identifies product combination that works well, allowing you to sell in bundles or upsell.
Omnia Dynamic pricing
Not every E-commerce platform has a dynamic pricing model built into it. If you invest in one who doesn’t offer dynamic pricing, you must find additional tools that deliver this feature to your store. There is no way around it. You must include this tool if you wish to succeed in the B2B landscape in the long-run.
A dynamic pricing tool takes into account their purchase history, how much they usually spend on your store, what client they are, and which company do they represent, and what discounts they are availing.
By assessing customers, the tool then offers different pricing lists to them. On top of this, the price must also be reflected in different currencies depending on which country your client is operating from. This usually only applies if you are running on an international level.
A quality dynamic pricing tool is Omnia Dynamic pricing. You can add this software to your eCommerce store to enhance growth. Here are the essential features of this tool:
- The software uses price elasticity to deliver value-based pricing. The price elasticity of your portfolio is learned via self-learning algorithm which is then used to offer accurate prices to customers
- The software works for both small and big retailers since it can deliver dynamic pricing regardless of how vast your portfolio is
- The UX and UI of the software is very smooth, and straightforward making is usable by both beginners and professionals
- It analyses competitor’s data and buyer pattern on its own, rendering the need for manual research unnecessary
Social Sharing through Buffer, Klout and Social Rank
Not every tool that you need is directly related to your selling strategy. Instead, you also need help in following through with your B2B marketing plan. It is true that B2B marketing is nothing like a B2C market. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that it is equally essential for B2B companies to have a sound marketing strategy.
One aspect is controlling your social media accounts. You would be surprised how much online presence is important for b2b customers. Here are some stats that showcase how important it is:
- 83% of B2B companies currently use social media to market their brand
- Over 70% of B2B companies use the LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for marketing
- On an average, B2B companies have a presence on six social media platforms
Therefore, you need a tool that will allow you to curate your digital media presence. Here are three of the best social sharing tools.
- Buffer: It helps in scheduling posts on a variety of social media platforms. It allows lets you manage the performance on each platform.
- Social Rank: this is specifically used for Twitter. It helps in identifying the most engaged followers for you to target.
- Klout: This helps in analyzing your presence by seeing how “popular” you are on different platforms.
OptinMonster: Personalization tool
Many think that B2B customers don’t care about personalization. However, this is not true. Customization is all about making your brand relevant to your audience. The only difference in B2B is that this audience is organizations.
Still, you will need personalization tools to boost your revenues. OptinMonster is a great tool for this. It helps in creating personalized content for individuals visiting your store and hence conducting niche marketing. The tool is compatible with Shopify plus as well as WordPress.
Features of OptinMonster include:
- Exit-intent popups that are personalized to reduce the chances of shopping cart abandonment.
- Delivering floating headers on your store to communicate about relevant deals depending on customers’ buying patterns.
- Offering coupons to new visitors to increase the chances of retaining them as customers.
Various eCommerce websites have reported having benefited from the tool. One of them includes Skates.co.uk. This website was able to reduce their abandoned cart ratio with the help of this tool.
InsiteCommerce: Quoting tool
In b2b landscape, one of the most hectic tasks is delivering the correct quotes to customers. This can be a long and hard process. Various b2b E-commerce companies use manual research to deliver quotes. However, not only is this time consuming, but it is also prone to errors.
InsiteCommerce’s quoting software integrates multiple systems and delivers relevant quotes to your customers in real-time. This helps in making sure that you don’t lose out on any potential sales. The software makes use of your CRM, ERP and website data to deliver accurate quotes to customers.
Features of the tool include:
- Online quote conversations with customers
- Ability to deliver quotes in real-time for custom-built products
- A consistent system to ensure reliability
- The ability for the quotes to be translated into multiple languages, hence aiding international businesses.
Product configuration software: Sofon and Simplio3D
Some b2b niches are such that contact with a salesperson is considered to be necessary. For instance, what if the configuration of your product depends on the requirements of each client?
However, the problem with this model is that it makes translating product requirements into quotes a hassle. This is why your Ecommerce store needs a product configuration software. This tool will not just simply the task for your sales team, but it will also save time, allowing your company to process more orders than before
There is various software that are delivering this tools. Some of the most popular ones are:
Sofon automates the ordering process for products that are highly customer specific. The software translates customer requirements into quotations and proposals. These can then be used for placing orders. At the same time, the software also helps customers in deciding which feature of a customized product suits their needs
Simplio3D is a web-based product configuration tool which allows customers who visit your store to design their products in a 2D or 3D format (depending on the nature of the product). Therefore, rather than writing down their requirements, they can express it in visual form. The best part about this software is that it can be integrated with all major E-commerce platforms.
Important factors to keep in mind
Even after you adopt these genius tools, there are other factors you must keep in mind when operating in a B2B E-commerce landscape. Here are the trends that should matter to you.
B2B customers are changing
Now, B2B customers are millennials. They are tech-savvy, impatient and young. You can’t get away with offering them an E-commerce solution that is slow or outdated. If your store doesn’t load quickly or has a complex ordering process, people will switch. B2B customers of all people don’t have the time to understand your platform. You can incorporate all the best tools on your store and still not be successful if you don’t understand your audience. Know how your consumers behave. It will help you in shaping an experience that they will appreciate.
Mobile support is key
Not only are millennials are tech-savvy, but they are also very particular about the channel they use for E-commerce shopping. And that is mobile. Mobile Commerce is the present as well as the future of online shopping in both B2B and B2C industries. You must ensure that your store is compatible with mobile devices.
Another critical trend regarding b2b E-commerce is that customer prefers self-service. This is something that the tools we have discussed will all come in handy for. The whole point of E-commerce is to allow your customers to do it all by themselves and at their convenience. You must make sure that you reduce your role in the shopping experience as much as possible. Don’t include options like talking to the sales team to confirm the order or requiring assistance for simple tasks. The more dependent the experience is on you, the less likely will it satisfy your b2b customers.
Rushing into it is lethal
Are you new to this industry? If so, make sure you take it slow. Take considerable time during the planning phase. You don’t necessarily have to incorporate all the tools mentioned. Instead, you can decide to add ones which are imperative for short-term stability and then add other tools as time comes.
Now is the time to launch your B2B E-commerce business. It is set to grow. But, people have been slow to adopt it as of yet. The ocean is blue and therefore entering it can allow you to succeed. Realize the early adopter advantage before other businesses start moving to the platform as well. Remember, this migration is bound to happen. The only good thing about you being the first one is that you will realize benefits before them and establish yourself in the market.
Use these tools and takeaways to create the best experience for your target audience. Watch as you become a force to be reckoned in the B2B industry.
Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524