The global B2B eCommerce market has been rapidly growing the past few years and in 2018 is estimated to be valued at US$10.6 trillion. This is more than five times the size of the B2C eCommerce market. According to Forrester, 53% of B2B buyers seek to make most of their purchases online. These trends highlight the importance for a business to have a B2B eCommerce site if they want to survive in the cut-throat business world.
There are many benefits to selling through a B2B eCommerce sales channel. With a B2B eCommerce platform, you can streamline your business’s sales ordering process, helping your sales team save time working on mundane tasks such as processing inbound emails so they can focus on more productive tasks like searching for new business leads.
On the other hand, B2B buyers enjoy using a B2B eCommerce site as it provides convenience. They are empowered to make an order from anywhere and at anytime. They can track their order status and history and pay with flexible payment methods. It is a frictionless and easy process for them to place orders. When your buyers are satisfied with your service, they will return to purchase from you leading to a higher velocity of orders in the future.
Your business is at risk of losing out if you are not willing to embrace using a B2B eCommerce sales channel. By not meeting customers where they already are (i.e., online), not only do you risk losing your existing customer base, but you also lose potential customers who would choose your competitors if they provide a better shopping experience.
Taking a B2B business online is a complex process, and the B2B eCommerce platform you decide to use will affect your customer experience. So how do you evaluate what your B2B eCommerce platform needs? Here are six key questions for you to consider before setting up a B2B eCommerce platform.
1. How Do You Provide The Best User Experience For Your Customers?
Put yourself in your customer's shoes and take yourself through their customer buyer journey when purchasing from you and try to discover the pain points they face. Once you identified the paint points, examine the possibility of solving them with a B2B eCommerce portal. For example, you determined that B2B buyers desire to have more information on products at their fingertips. Would you buy a product on Amazon that does not have a photo? My guess is probably no. As such, you need to ensure your online product catalog contains high-resolution images to help customers identify with your products. Also, you will need to include product descriptions and other custom information that is useful for your customers.
Another important aspect of the user experience is the ability to browse through your website across multiple devices. Your platform needs the functionality of supporting responsive designs to allow web content to render accurately across different devices. This is an essential feature as your B2B customers could use different devices during their entire purchasing journey. For example, they could do research on the company's desktop but making purchases using a tablet when they are doing inventory checks at their retail store. By making your B2B eCommerce portal responsive, you will create a user-friendly experience for your customers as they move from device to device to make their order.
2. What Is The Best Way To Reflect Your Branding on the Site?
B2B Branding is important for your B2B eCommerce site. Branding is not just about creating the most aesthetical and eye-catching design. It aims to establish and maintain a consistent brand message across all your touchpoints, allowing your business to build trust with your customers. When designing your B2B eCommerce site layout, it is essential to ensure all your branding elements are consistent, i.e. your logo, brand colors, fonts, and design style.
When your customers visit your B2B eCommerce site, it should be an extension of the brand they are familiar with. When they trust your site and are comfortable when using it, it builds an emotional connection with your customers. Thus, your customers will perceive your brand as trustworthy and reliable, making them more likely to purchase on your site.
3. How Will You Implement Your Current Sales Process With A B2B eCommerce Site?
It is crucial to consider how your current sales process will influence how your B2B eCommerce site operates. How your B2B eCommerce site should be set up is dependent on how you sell to customers. For example, some B2B eCommerce sites function similar to B2C sites where they will display their entire product catalog online with their prices listed, allowing everyone to view their listed prices. On the other hand, some B2B eCommerce sites restrict access only to users who have pre-existing relationships with your business. These B2B customers have access to their exclusive product catalog with customized prices based on their specific agreement with the company.
Also, you need to think of specific B2B eCommerce site features your customers might demand on your B2B platform. For example, if your customers require you to ship your products to them to multiple stock locations, you need to ensure your site has an option to support multiple delivery locations.
4. Are Your Customer & Sales Team Ready To Sell On The New Site?
One potential obstacle your business might encounter is the reluctance of your customer and sales team to embrace your new B2B eCommerce platform. Your employees could feel threatened that the B2B eCommerce site will cause their job to be redundant. Thus, it is important to explain to your customer & sales team how B2B eCommerce will make their job easier and is not meant to be their replacement. By selling through a B2B eCommerce sales channel, they have more time to look for new opportunities due to time saved from doing time-consuming, repetitive manual tasks.
Also, your business has to invest time to train your customers & sales team in operating the B2B eCommerce website. You will have to forecast potential troubleshooting issues or problems your employees might encounter and guide them through on how to solve them.
5. What Is Your Online Pricing Strategy?
Your organization pricing structure drives your online pricing strategy. Unlike B2C businesses which operate on a one for all pricing system, B2B business pricing strategy is more agile and caters to customer's individual needs. Your B2B eCommerce platform needs the flexibility to support different pricing levels. It has to handle different pricing rules and adjustments such as product-based discounts and quantity discounts. Also, if your business has negotiated unique pricing agreements with specific customers, your B2B eCommerce platform has to support displaying different price levels to different customers.
Furthermore, you need to take note the price reflected on your B2B eCommerce site matches the amount you tell your customers. If your B2B customers are quoted a different price from your sales representative compared to your B2B eCommerce site, they may lose trust in your business. Thus, it is important for your sales and eCommerce team to work together to continuously monitor the prices so that both are on the same page, eliminating the possibility of providing conflicting information to your customers.
6. Can You Integrate Existing Software Applications With Your B2B eCommerce Site?
Successfully integrating your existing workforce management software with your B2B eCommerce site is key to your business success. Your B2B eCommerce site does not function alone and needs to exchange information with various other business functions like accounting and shipping for your business to run smoothly. You need to assess how the new B2B eCommerce site will fit into your current process and the kind of information that needs to be exchanged between different software. By automating this entire process, your business can build a sustainable IT working environment to ensure a streamlined supply chain operation.
What Does Success Look Like?
By adding an eCommerce channel to your B2B business, here are some of the benefits your B2B eCommerce website will bring you.
- Time saved from faster order processing time and reduction of errors due to manual work.
- Better customer retention with customers satisfied experiencing better browsing and ordering user interface.
- Improved inventory management accuracy and efficiency with more accurate tracking of inventory levels.
We recognize it is not easy for a business to implement a B2B eCommerce site from scratch. There are many factors to consider before starting the process of your B2B eCommerce website implementation. Your B2B eCommerce website will affect multiple functions within your organization, and it is critical to get the set-up right.
At Sweet, we can help you make the right choice. Our dedicated B2B eCommerce portal has helped companies such as Mame’s Burritos and Dona Chai streamlined their operations and helped their business grow. To find out how Sweet can help your business to set up a B2B eCommerce site, request a demo with us today.