The world of eCommerce and retail digitisation is being adopted in increasing numbers by the business community. Businesses trading to customers (B2C) have long-since led the way in eCommerce with reported success, however now it is being adopted by businesses who trade with other businesses (B2B). So, if your business is contemplating joining the throngs signing up for B2B eCommerce, here are some tips to get you started on the right track.
When you are creating a new platform, it is vital to do the design process due diligence and research all the variables in depth. With a B2B eCommerce platform, this will involve consulting with all the elements of your business affected by it. For example, this involves sales and marketing, accounting, management and even inventory and warehousing. It is far easier to do the research in the beginning, finding out what features all the different departments need before committing to anything.
The other key aspects you need to consider in the planning stage are your resources (be it internal or external) and your chosen platform. Planning your resources entails considering what jobs can be conducted internally and what ones require external expertise. Your platform is of course extremely important as your whole website and business appearance will be built on it. Therefore, go through everything with a fine-tooth comb and ensure you future proof any decisions you make.
Conduct market research
When breaking into any new market where you are attempting to make your name and product known and attract valuable customers, it is imperative to conduct some market research. This involves considering what the competition are doing and how they are doing it so that you are not deemed to repeat their mistakes but rather their successes. Of course, this does not mean to copy them as originality is paramount, however it is extremely useful to learn from the mistakes of your competitors.
Create a practical website
Taking a leaf from the B2C playbook, here are some tips to improve your B2B website:
Improve your search functionality
Websites which have site search functionality are twice as likely to convert any customers that come calling, and those customers can generate up to 40% of the site’s revenue.
Accommodate for and value customer feedback and reviews
It is a well-established part of the B2C buying process is to search for and consider product and service reviews carefully before engaging with a retailer. According to a B2B 2017 Buyer’s Survey by Demand Gen, this same behaviour is spilling over into the B2B arena. In fact, a whopping 84% of buyers seek advice from existing customers’ feedback. With statistics like that, not only do you want to ensure there are an adequate number of reviews, but you also want to make certain they are exemplary.
Examine your buyers
Since the role of sales representatives essentially change with B2B and are somewhat replaced by a digital interface, it is important to still consider your buyers and what they need and want. This involves ensuring there are options for those more traditional buyers who might indeed still want downloadable order forms and inventory lists like what they are used to. By examining your buyers and their search preferences, B2B websites provide a unique opportunity for upselling and cross-selling which can not only increase the value of each order, but also provides a positive customer experience.
Recall customer interactions
A feature of B2C websites that can be so useful are their recall of any interactions, be it past order histories, searches, wishlists or items placed in an e-cart. This feature is useful because the buyer does not need to recall their own information and can benefit from a smooth and efficient search and ordering process.
It is important to appreciate that the typical B2C buyers are increasingly becoming B2B buyers in their 9 to 5 jobs and so come with all the expectations of the B2C industry. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial to mimic this increased website functionality in your B2B platform.
The expectation arises for an accessible and mobile-capable B2B website. These buyers want to operate on the run, therefore multi-device functionality is extremely important for a B2B setup.
Arm yourself for the future
Consider your personnel, what roles they carry and how they will support the B2B dream. This may require reorganising roles within the organisation to better serve the collective need, providing extra training and empowering your current staff to extend themselves. By the same token, you need to be ready and eager to adapt and grow your platform and website based on changing markets and customer and staff feedback.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.