The B2B eCommerce industry has been growing over the past two decades; by 2020 it is predicted to be worth twice that of the B2C global market. Given this and the changing nature of business buyers, it is essential that business jump on the B2B eCommerce bandwagon to ensure profitability for the future.
Should your business engage in B2B eCommerce?
Firms who have been actively investing in their eCommerce strategies over the last few years report that over half of their clientele carry out their purchases online. Solutionists, a leading Australasian eCommerce solution company, reports that in their top 10 most profitable webstores they invested a mere 2.5% in their eCommerce strategy, which afforded them a 53% rise in turnover.
What should you be aware of?
When considering a new business strategy, businesses should be aware of tips and tricks that others have discovered the hard way. One of these is considering your buyer. The trap is to think that a B2B buyer is an older professional, sitting in a suit jacket who struggles to operate their mobile phone, let alone understands the world of social media. The reality is that B2B buyer profile is changing and is more reflective of the classic B2C buyer. They are the very same people who shop for their electronic gadgets, clothes, food and entertainment online, research products and prices, and complete transactions over a range of devices. These buyers are accustomed to efficiency, adaptability across multiple user interfaces and a very customised user experience.
As a B2B eCommerce retailer, it is important then to keep this in mind and ensure your B2B platform matches what these buyers would want to facilitate the purchasing process. Of course, the B2B business model is far more complex than that of a B2C company and as such, it is difficult to ensure such a convoluted process with multiple ordering methods, is in fact streamlined and efficient. However, this is why it pays to invest in the latest software and technical support from an eCommerce solutions provider so that your online presence can be integrated seamlessly into your other business systems, from sales to inventory management. Keeping the customer at the forefront of any process guides business decisions towards optimising the customer experience.
What should your B2B eCommerce system include?
Your B2B eCommerce system should be the glue the holds your CRM system, your planning system, accounting and inventory management system firmly together. It should be scalable, easy to alter and flexible. These qualities make it easier for the company to grow and expand into new markets where multiple language interfaces are required, and country-specific, customer-specific product and ordering pages are essential.
Any B2B eCommerce system you choose must be adaptable to multiple devices. With the changing profile and expectations of buyers, they have come to expect a seamless, professional online process which might involve changing from one device to another and experiencing the same high-functioning website with product lists and ordering information. Therefore, even if you do not control a large proportion of the market, it is still beneficial to ensure your systems are versatile from the get-go.
The final thing we will mention which is essential for a good B2B eCommerce system is ensuring it is automated and easily integrated into your existing business systems. This is essential to save labour and time which, of course, cost the company in money and resources. B2C buyers have the pleasure of deciding on a purchase, adding it to their online cart, paying by credit card and expecting the item on their doorstep a few days later. This process is efficient and difficult to replicate in the B2B arena where orders can be placed a multitude of ways, are not paid for at the time and are subject to individualised discount rates. Therefore, to ensure inventory management and the fulfilment of orders in a timely manner are maintained, automated, integrated systems are invaluable.
B2B eCommerce presents a new and exciting venture for businesses delving into the internet arena and establishing their online presence. It is a powerful tool phenomenon that is set to grow in popularity and guarantee large returns if done correctly. The key is ensuring your systems agree with each other and all operate to improve the customer experience and enhance efficiency of the ordering process.