By 2021, the B2B eCommerce market will be worth nearly $11 trillion dollars globally. That would make it roughly twice the size of the B2C eCommerce market! While it will be much larger than B2C, it’s also a more challenging space for participants, and in some ways more nascent as well. But, if the size and growth of the B2B global market is any indicator, it appears that there’s no better time to invest and compete than the present.
A number of enterprise B2B eCommerce players have entered the market and are reaping the rewards of being early entrants. Now, with a large and fast-growing market awaiting, all B2B companies need to realize how important it is to participate in eCommerce as a whole.
If you want to learn about the latest trends in B2B eCommerce, you can read our article. "5 B2B eCommerce Trends In 2018: What Your Business Needs To Know"
If you are entering the B2B online sales market, there are a few secrets to success that you can glean from large B2B eCommerce enterprise companies which apply to B2B businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best.
Then, you can consider, experiment, and see if these “secrets” can help your company. Apply these elements to your strategy and watch your B2B eCommerce business grow.
Let us share with you the most successful B2B sellers' secrets to achieving eCommerce success!
Secrets to B2B E-Commerce Success
1.Achieve A Top-Notch Consumer Experience By Integrating Your B2B Site With B2C Features
While the approach to B2B sales might be different from B2C sales, B2B buyers still crave the B2C experience when shopping online.
In fact, 65% of B2B customers feel that their B2B buying experience does not match their shopping experience on consumer goods websites such as Amazon and Macy.
While B2B customers expect their online experience to have the features unique to B2B sales, they also want to have the same ease-of-use experience when browsing through websites like Amazon.
To achieve B2B eCommerce success, your business needs to be able to close the gap between your customer’s expectation and the online shopping experience you are delivering.
What Steps Can Your Business Take?
You can expand your customer base by integrating B2C feature into your customers’ web experience that are tailored to meet their unique business needs.
Many online retailers don't realize that their website design unintentionally classifies them as B2B (or vice versa, as B2C) sellers. This could be due to poor UX, language, or vague branding and marketing. As a result, potential customers could get the wrong impression of what type of customers is the business serving. Improving upon this and clearly providing visitors guidance as to where to go, based on their purchase intent, will lead to a better experience for your customers.
One method to achieve this is to create a website that offers both individual products and bulk group sales. This method would allow your B2B and B2C customers to get the same experience while at the same time providing them with the product information, pricing, and order information that each customer needs, respectively.
Below, you can observe how MyWit has clearly labeled the web pages that their B2B or B2C should go for more information. They followed up by creating dedicated web pages for each type of customers.
MyWit B2C customer webpage
MyWit B2B customer webpage
Below we discuss how W. W. Grainger, a top Fortune 500 company, managed to achieve success in this area.
Case Study 1: How One Company's B2B & B2C Platforms Help Generate Over $10 Billion in Sales
W. W. Grainger, a Fortune 500 company who served more than 3 million customers worldwide, created different check-out options on their websites for both their B2B and B2C customers.
This approach has helped the company maintain consistent growth as a $10 billion dollar company since 2016.
How Their Site Mirrors B2C Retailers
Here are some of the key B2C strategies that have been integrated into W.W. Grainger’s site:
- When a B2B customer create an account, they are redirected to a homepage similar to those of B2C retailers
- Their product pages feature familiar B2C hallmarks such as:
- Robust search options
- A digital catalog
- A variety of shipping options
Furthermore, the company's site includes an innovative customized sales platform. This platform distinguishes them from other B2C businesses.
Familiar B2C hallmarks on Grainger's product catalog
How Their Site Differs From B2C Retailers
While ensuring that their B2B buyers have a state-of-the-art experience similar to shopping on B2C websites, they also manage to incorporate unique B2B elements to their website:
- Three product purchasing programs offer customers a customized user-experience, based on their size and needs.
- A "Bulk Order Pad," strategically placed next to the search bar. This feature provides customers with easy order options for placing their bulk orders.
- An autocomplete search is combined with add-to-cart features to make ordering a breeze.
Grainger B2B elements on their product page
Their appeal to multiple-consumer types relies on traditional strategies of both B2B and B2C sites. While their site's unique capabilities appear easy to imitate, the simple modifications Grainger made to their website has provided their B2B customers a leading customer experience, which in turn brought in more sales for them.
2. Dynamic Pricing For Customers Is Your Best Bet
Dynamic pricing is a pricing methodology you likely already practice but do not have a name for. Dynamic pricing is simply the process of adjusting the prices of your products based on the situation. In wholesale, most companies adjust prices based on their customers’ purchasing habits.
This context-based pricing relies on the premise that some customers are more valuable than others, e.g., a customer who purchases from you more often, or orders more from you than most of your other customers, is undoubtedly a more-valuable customer for you.
In B2B, it is a normal state of affairs to price your products dynamically and to not use one general pricing index.The reason is that the pricing of many products represented on the internet are aimed at B2C and sold in individual units or smaller quantities. Thus, prices listed on company websites are often not the best representation of wholesale prices, since customers are ordering in bulk.
In fact, it is often unavoidable to have to give discounts to larger companies since they can provide guarantees of larger, more frequent orders. As such, many B2B eCommerce companies obtain online sales by providing customized services and unique, customer-specific pricing.
For B2B eCommerce, it’s important to create or use a website which can support dynamic pricing. Companies researching product prices for large quantities might benefit from seeing that prices are reduced by a third for total order quantities over 1,000 units. A website that will show tailored, customer-specific prices will be perfect for a wide range of potential B2B customers.
How to Avoid Price Wars With Competitors
Usually, B2B competitors are going to share similar prices for nearly identical products. A simple online search will reveal little difference in retailer’s product-pricing.
Your business can gain more by showing customers why they should choose you. Having a clear pricing guide is more effective than revealing a confusing pricing guide.
To achieve this, many companies ask customers to have an account before they are privy to exact pricing. They may ask users to create an account or log in. Then, pricing is often customized to fit their needs.
Let us examine how Staples carry out their pricing strategy when selling to their wholesale customers.
Case Study 2: Staples Uses Dynamic Pricing When Selling To Their B2B Customers
While most people know Staples as a go-to place to purchase office supplies for personal or small business needs, Staples also sells directly to business on a dedicated website platform called Staples Business Advantage.
Staples Business Advantages operates differently from their B2C platform(Staples.com). On the consumer-oriented Staples.com, a new customer can easily view and compare prices on the digital catalog. However, on Staples Business Advantage, while new B2B customers can view the product catalog, they are unable to view the pricing until they have signed up for an account.
Staples Business Advantage Product Page
To ensure that the B2B customers shopping on their B2B platform gets the best price for their need, they have a dedicated account manager to attend to each one of their B2B customers. By doing so, Staples can cater to the unique needs of each business, depending on how much their customers are ordering from them. The pricing a customer receives is highly dependent on the output of this needs assessment.
3.Create a Better Online Customer Experience Through Personalized Engagement
Some companies believe that it is difficult to provide a warm customer experience over the internet compared to conducting business face-to-face. But with the advancement in technology, this is not true anymore.
As an online business retailer, you face challenges that brick and mortar businesses do not. Providing in-person demonstrations, visiting customers, or conducting a face-to-face needs assessment simply aren't tasks that an online-only company can do.
How might your business leverage on technology to provide personalized customer service to online customers that match in quality to those offered by leading brick and mortar competitors?
The common ways to engage your customers and create a customer-friendly B2B eCommerce include:
- Leveraging customer data to understand their purchasing behavior to better future predict their needs and provide a customized service to them.
- Providing live chat option for consumers to communicate with you easily.
- Offering an omnichannel sales experience to create better customer engagement
Many top B2B eCommerce brands utilize these feature as part of their strategy to give customers a personal level of service, thus creating higher customer engagement.
How our company use live chat to provide an avenue for our B2B customers to reach us
Let us Look at how American Express created a better online customer experience for their B2B customers.
Case Study 3: American Express Illustrates How Leveraging Data Can Boost Customer Relationships
Business-solutions leader American Express (Amex) illustrates how analyzing B2B eCommerce customer data has helped them to better customize their user experience. For their merchant services product targeted at B2B customers, Amex uses purchase data to analyze customers’ spending habits and gather additional indicators of purchase intent. Using this information, Amex can provide customers tailored offers for products and services they are likely to find useful.
Breaking down the reports into individualized data reports, American Express is able to customize their service to meet each individual customer’s needs and budgets and provide them with personalized recommendations.
Need Help Optimizing Your B2B Brand Online?
Creating effective customer-service solutions is vital to growing any B2B eCommerce brand.
If you want to improve your B2B eCommerce customer experience, we can help.
At Sweet, our dedicated B2B eCommerce portal can help you meet the demanding needs of your customers. With it, you can deliver a personalized ordering experience for each one of your B2B customers.
Here is a short summary of the benefits you can reap from it:
- Simple ordering and payment process for your customer
- Ability to customize unique catalogs and price list for each unique customer
- Quick set-up process
- Ability to integrate with top online tools such as Quickbooks and Shipstation
Ready to learn more? Request a free demo today and let us work together to take your B2B business to the next level.