Everything You Need To Know About B2B Websites
The worldwide B2B eCommerce industry was worth $14.9 trillion in 2020, more than five times the B2C market. Furthermore, according to Forrester, B2B eCommerce will account for 17% of all B2B sales in the United States by 2023, totalling $1.8 trillion. B2B eCommerce is, without a doubt, hitting new heights.
Business-to-business electronic commerce, or B2B eCommerce, is the selling of products or services between companies via online transactions. Wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, and other kinds of B2B sellers benefit from increased purchasing efficiency and effectiveness since orders are executed digitally.
B2B companies have been sluggish to embrace eCommerce in the past. Only 9% of all B2B product sales in the United States happened through an eCommerce website, according to an eMarker study released just before the epidemic.
Buyer expectations are growing faster than ever, thanks to the pandemic as a catalyst for change and an increasing number of millennials joining the B2B arena, and B2B enterprises must keep up. Cold phoning, offline marketing operations and paper-based, manual transactions are becoming obsolete.
Customers want these same experiences from B2B merchants, just as they do from B2C sellers, and they get more irritated with those that don't give them.
In fact, a buyer's direct or indirect customer experience influences 80 percent of B2B purchasing choices, and 87 percent of B2B buyers would pay more for a supplier with a superior eCommerce portal and experience, up from 81 percent in 2020 and 74 percent in 2019.
B2B merchants are left to comprehend the current B2B buyer's demands in the middle of a shifting market. If you're a B2B company with legacy systems, though, digital transformation might be a difficult task.
This tutorial will lead you through the fundamentals of B2B eCommerce, including marketing suggestions, common misunderstandings, the benefits of having a B2B platform, and some useful examples from our own BigCommerce B2B merchants, to help you get started updating your B2B company.
B2B eCommerce Types
According to Gartner, by 2025, digital channels will account for 80 percent of B2B sales interactions between buyers and suppliers. Furthermore, new eCommerce technologies are making it easier for historically B2C firms to incorporate a B2B component (B2C2B) and for traditionally B2B organizations to sell straight to consumers (B2B2C).
You'll most likely fall into one of the following categories as a B2B company. Each entity has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and some firms may fall into many categories at the same time.
Consumer-to-consumer-to-business (B2B2C) Ecommerce eliminates the typical intermediary between B2B and B2C organizations, bringing firms in direct touch with customers. Looking at how a wholesaler or manufacturer interacts with conventional B2B and B2C models is the best way to understand the B2B2C model.
In these situations, the wholesaler or producer provides items to the B2B, who then sells them to the ultimate customer. The wholesaler or manufacturer contacts the ultimate customer in a B2B2C model by collaborating with the B2B or selling straight to the consumer.
These changes happen online with B2B2C eCommerce, frequently via virtual shops, an eCommerce site, or even apps. In many B2B2C eCommerce setups, the customer is aware that the product is coming from a company other than the one where they bought it. A customer could buy a product from an affiliate blogger, but the product is branded and sent by the manufacturer.
Businesses often acquire things in bulk at a reduced price and then resell them at retail, and the commodities are typically obtained straight from the manufacturer or distributor. Wholesale is a kind of B2B that may be characterized as the selling of products to other companies.
Retail, food service, construction, and medical are just a few of the businesses that use wholesale B2B models. Wholesale B2B transactions are often conducted over the phone, over email, or using spreadsheet order forms. Everything is digital in wholesale eCommerce when utilizing a B2B eCommerce platform.
The platform makes it easier for the wholesaler to present items and delivers a more seamless purchasing experience. The conversion of B2Cs is one reason why the B2B eCommerce sector is growing. While it is feasible to make the switch, there is a learning curve involved. B2B purchases are often greater than B2C purchases, and B2B sales frequently depend on long-term vendor relationships.
Manufacturers use components and raw materials in conjunction with physical labor and machinery to make completed things on a big scale. The final items are sold to other manufacturers, suppliers, or distributors in a B2B business. The automotive sector is an excellent example of B2B manufacturers. Individual automotive components, such as a gasoline pump and an engine, are designed by the manufacturer.
The manufacturer then sells these components to an automobile firm, which then assembles the vehicle and sells it to the customer. Manufacturers are doing business online in the same manner that distributors do. According to The State of International Ecommerce Report, almost a third of manufacturers expect B2B eCommerce sales to increase by at least 25% in 2021 and 2022.
Furthermore, 54% of manufacturers prefer to sell directly to customers. B2B buyer expectations are unquestionably altering, and manufacturers must keep up. Higher expectations aren't limited to B2C consumers. Wholesalers, distributors, and channel partners are looking for manufacturers that provide digital purchasing alternatives, such as the opportunity to monitor prices and track order statuses.
There are two alternatives for the following phase once a product has passed through the hands of a manufacturer: The manufacturer may sell directly to the final client if they desire to have greater control over the selling side of their company.
However, this puts them in charge of tasks like order management, packing, and marketing. A producer, on the other hand, may work with a distributor to market their goods. In this situation, the distributor collaborates closely with the producer in order to increase sales and move their product through the distribution channel.
In an eCommerce approach, the logistics of the transaction are handled online, frequently through an eCommerce platform, allowing for more development potential. Distributors, like other B2B models, are aiming to reduce the time between sale and delivery and provide a client experience that exceeds expectations.
Distributors may sell online and experience remarkable growth thanks to online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. In fact, from 2019 to 2020, the adoption rate of eCommerce distribution increased by a weighted 26.3 percent. Distributors must include more modern eCommerce technology to hold their clients' attention, especially now that Amazon has set the bar for automated, tailored experiences.
B2B Business Stages
It's critical to grasp the four phases of B2B business development whether you're a B2B company that's just getting started, or even if your company doesn't exist yet. Knowing what stage your company is in can help you prepare for the expected setbacks and handle them promptly when they occur.
Your B2B firm will go through numerous stages of growth, each needing different finances, marketing methods, and resources, much as a tree starts as a seedling and takes a varied amount of resources to sprout and mature.
We'll go through each of the four phases of starting a B2B company, as well as the problems that each step brings.
It all begins with a product or service concept and the desire to turn it into a company. You've chosen to pursue your company endeavour and establish your B2B brand at the startup stage. You've completed the development of your product or service and are now promoting and selling it to consumers.
In this stage, sales are often modest but steadily increasing, and your company's primary emphasis is likely to be on studying your target market and identifying customer groups.
Based on early consumer feedback and demand, you'll undoubtedly need to change your product or promotion when you start earning sales. As a consequence, you should be able to lock down your marketing approach and forward to the next stage of growth.
You'll enter the growth, or survival, stage after releasing your product and finding your bearings. At this time, your company will have passed its breakeven threshold and will begin to witness increased profits, but not to the same extent as sales.
You'll be able to pay operational expenditures and explore new business options as your company earns more money and wins more clients. However, the greater rivalry is common at this point, necessitating a review of your company model and consideration of important activities such as sales, marketing, and operations.
As you expand into new markets and distribution channels after establishing a presence in the B2B sector, you'll likely see a quick increase in cash flow and revenue. However, if the market grows more saturated and new rivals grab market share, this growth may begin to decline. Your B2B company will need to capture greater market share and additional income streams, such as new product lines or target clients, to capitalize on expansion.
Cash flows will likely taper down and profit margins will become narrower after your company has attained maturity and gone to the top of the market. While your company may be thriving and increasing, it is most likely not at the same pace as it was during the growth period.
It's up to you at this stage whether to develop an exit plan or remake yourself as a B2B company. Your company may prolong its life cycle and return to the growth stage by investing in new eCommerce technology and exploring new markets.
eCommerce Marketing For Businesses 101
Whatever your reasons for delaying the launch of your B2B eCommerce site, keep in mind that nothing that a B2B firm needs to succeed online can't be done.
Customers Should Be Informed About Items, Features, And Special Offers
The idea of combining information with commerce in an online strategy has a lot of practical applications. If a user isn't given all of the information they need, such as size charts, ingredient lists, and how-to manuals, they'll go elsewhere. This investigation often leads to the customer joining a purchase funnel outside of your company's digital commerce channel.
B2B user experiences have evolved from limited-information green screen portals to instructional outlets that push goods and promotions to your customers. Why?
Because that is how the online value ladder works. Companies with a B2B business strategy have done this for years with phone calls or drinks. Now you must do it to increase traffic and close purchases on the internet.
Customers Should Be Moved From Physical To Online Platforms
It will come as no surprise if fewer and fewer B2B clients opt to talk with a sales agent in person, over the phone, by fax, or even by email as millennial buyers acquire greater decision-making and buying authority inside their businesses.
In fact, 65 percent of B2B buyers prefer to conduct their research online rather than speak with a salesperson, and a quarter of today's B2B customers make at least half of their job purchases online – which means it's certainly time for your company to start using eCommerce channels if you haven't already.
If your team does decide to establish a new channel, be sure to engage with your consumers early and regularly so that everyone is on the same page. Simple web forms enable online communication with sales and support, as well as the request of samples and catalogues.
The chat box may be found around the website as an additional way for consumers to get help. Regardless of how you present the digital channel, be prepared for inquiries and concerns, and emphasize the advantages of switching to the new platform.
Utilize Technology To Address Persistent Consumer Issues
B2B fulfillment failures may be expensive for an eCommerce firm due to the nature of the kind and quantity of merchandise requested, possibly affecting truck or trainloads of inventory. As a result, your B2B business must be able to provide the proper items on schedule while also exceeding customer expectations.
Your staff must be able to establish new partnerships and provide supplementary services instead of dealing with customer service issues, refunds, and apologies. It's no wonder, therefore, that investing in eCommerce technology is the top priority for 51 percent of US B2B purchasers in 2021.
Ecommerce technology like cloud computing and storage, search engine optimization, and predictive analytics, for example, are increasingly becoming a requirement rather than a luxury.
Other advancements have paved the way for tailored items, promotions, checkout experiences, marketing messages, and price modification, allowing firms to tailor B2B pricing to specific clients and scenarios while also streamlining sales procedures.
Some B2B firms may even benefit from AI and IoT advancements, which can help businesses get more actionable consumer insights, improve targeting and segmentation, and drive smarter automation. B2B companies may also leverage an ERP or OMS as a central source of truth, syncing such systems with an eCommerce platform through robust APIs.
eCommerce systems, on the other hand, may automate many eCommerce elements to improve the client experience. Introduce initiatives that encourage customer loyalty, larger order values, and more frequent purchases.
Look to further efforts once the platform has been implemented to keep the needle moving. If you're a B2B company, you probably sell consumable items that need to be serviced and updated on a regular basis.
Allowing both subscription-based and one-time transactions may help to retain customers, increase customer lifetime value, and simplify corporate operations. Additionally, the information may help your sales staff show and offer related goods, as well as determine when a consumer is ready to purchase.
Amazon, the industry juggernaut, has already started implementing similar schemes. Certain items, such as this air filter, may be bought in monthly increments, for example. You may leverage connections with partners like Rebillia to handle subscriptions and memberships, or PayWhirl for recurring billing on your own B2B eCommerce shop.
To Grow, Align Corporate Processes And Teams
Organizations often function inefficiently as a result of resources being assigned to the incorrect roles or process silos that stifle progress.
These roadblocks arise either because the digital channel was built as an “add-on” and not cohesively structured within the organization, or because organic decisions over time have morphed into a structure (i.e. solely marketing or IT “owning” the eCommerce software) that no longer provides a solid foundation for cohesive cross-channel growth.
Reduce Back-Office Expenses By Retiring Old Systems
Commerce platforms' reach and impact inside a company's current technological ecosystem are expanding as their functionality expands beyond merely a “shopping cart.” Traditional application boundaries are blurring as major software businesses rapidly buy and incorporate smaller, specialized products.
When embarking on a digital commerce endeavour, it's critical to comprehend the roadmap of the chosen commerce technology platform and what that means in terms of capabilities. This information might help you save money on overlapping technology licenses and maintenance, as well as eliminate technological bloat.
Ensure That eCommerce Works In Tandem With Other Sales Channels
Internal channel conflict is a major source of frustration for B2B companies. With the death of the B2B salesman, the internet channel might be considered a serious threat. Organizations should interact with those who may be impacted early and regularly in order to effectively overcome internal worry.
Together with sales leadership, the digital teams should demonstrate the advantages of customers using technology-based customer self-service and how it can truly help salespeople retire and surpass targets.
In the telecommunications industry, for example, B2C-like eCommerce portals are often used by SMBs to acquire gear, upgrade plans, or expand services. A real sales professional takes over the account only if and when the client gets difficult. This strategy enables the team to concentrate on selling rather than receiving orders.
Create Value Using The Transaction's Business Side
There are no two customers alike. Customize the eCommerce channel to fit their needs and become an important business partner – it all begins with one-on-one interactions.
Customer segmentation may be used to provide customer-specific product catalogues and pricing lists, as well as incentive programs that reward consumers for their loyalty and volume of business. Then, to eliminate any friction from the sales process, create procedures that connect the eCommerce ecosystem with the way your clients conduct business.
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