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Starting your business online has the potential for incredible growth and profits. But it comes with its own challenges. B2B (Business to Business) Ecommerce is a growing industry with a lot of competition for newer websites. Keep reading to find out what you can do to make your business stand out.
In this article, we’ll discuss the B2B Ecommerce best practices that every business owner should be following. We’ll also share the marketing strategies that can increase your business exposure and earn you a lot more website visitors.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is B2B Ecommerce?
B2B Ecommerce is the practice of business selling to other businesses online. Mostly this involves large scale orders and manufacturing companies and wholesalers. The businesses buying the products are the customers but they are not the direct consumers of the product.
For example, a small business (customer in this case) may place online bulk orders of stationery supplies with a wholesale company (seller). Then later sell those products in their store – online or physical. Here, the transactions between the small business and the wholesale company are B2B Ecommerce and between the consumer and the small business is B2C.
Hence any purchases that happen between two companies over the internet is B2B Ecommerce.
This business model began decades ago but recently the industry has grown exponentially and it’s still growing. A major reason for this is that there are more Millennials business owners now. And since they grew up with technology, using it for B2B transactions is not a farfetched concept to them.
Here are a few interesting B2B Ecommerce statistics to show you how the industry is evolving:
- The B2B Ecommerce market size was $6.64 trillion in 2020. For comparison, the market size of the tourism industry was $1.09 trillion and that of the quick-service industry (fast food) was $240.9 billion in the same year.
- Currently, 70% of B2B buyers say that they are willing to pay extra for Ecommerce remote purchases.
- According to McKinsey and Company, more than 75% of B2B buyers say that they prefer digital self-service over human engagement.
- As many as 60% of B2B young buyers say that they’ll leave a buyer if their Ecommerce site is not mobile-responsive.
The trust in the effectiveness of B2B Ecommerce is growing with 75% of businesses saying that their sales models are highly effective in reaching and serving customers.
Types and Examples of B2B Ecommerce
B2B Ecommerce is a big industry so naturally, not all websites operate the same way. There are three main models of B2B Ecommerce and then there are other subcategories that emerge from these. Here, we’ll discuss these types and elaborate with the help of examples:
1. Wholesale B2B Ecommerce
In this model, a business buys products in bulk from a wholesale company which can be the manufacturer or distributor. This is the most traditional type of B2B Ecommerce. A common example of this is Alibaba – a B2B Ecommerce marketplace based out of China that serves businesses all over the world.
In wholesale B2B Ecommerce businesses can get the products at a discounted price when they buy in bulk. You don’t have to be a massive corporation to be a customer here, small businesses and startups use Alibaba and other wholesalers all the time.
2. B2B Then B2C [B2B2C] Ecommerce
In this model, a manufacturer sells the products to a business, which then sells them to the consumers directly. The key feature of this model is that the consumers know that the stores they are buying from are not the producers of the product. In a way, this links B2B companies directly to their consumers.
An example of this is online makeup stores that feature a lot of different brands. The brands (B2B seller) sell bulk orders to other smaller businesses (B2B customers). Then consumers can buy from the smaller websites knowing full well that they aren’t the owner of the brands.
3. From B2C to Wholesaler [B2C2B] Ecommerce
This model is a mix of B2B and B2C Ecommerce. Here, businesses start as a B2C Ecommerce and once they’ve established themselves, they shift to B2B Ecommerce. But they also keep selling directly to customers.
The reduced barrier to entry due to better technology, convenient B2B Ecommerce development and marketing is the leading cause of why traditional B2C companies are moving towards B2B Ecommerce .
Others: There are also other types of B2B Ecommerce where you just extend the business-to-business Ecommerce chain. So instead of the manufacturer delivering to a business directly, there are additional steps involving a distributor, sub-distributor, wholesaler and then the business that actually sells the products to the consumers.
This is more common in large-scale orders involving international transport if physical products are involved.
B2B Ecommerce Best Practices
Business to business transactions are nothing new. But operating in the online space is different from offline sales. Here are a few B2B Ecommerce best practices that can get your business in front of your target customers quickly:
1. User Experience Is King in B2B Ecommerce
A HubSpot study found that 76% of customers would use a website because it makes it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.
So if you run a B2B Ecommerce website then focus a lot on website navigation. For that, you can use categories and groups of relevant pages with great product descriptions to help your customers navigate your store.
You should also use excellent product images because you don’t want your customers saying that the product they received was different from the displayed images. A lot of B2B Ecommerce websites don’t pay much attention to this aspect and fall behind their competitors due to a bad user experience.
Some other areas that contribute to higher customer experience include offering multiple shipping preferences. Some customers want free shipping even if it takes longer, others want their products ASAP even if they have to pay extra. If you can accommodate your customers then they might keep coming back to you with more business.
Flexible payments, cross-selling, reorder functionality, product rating and quick order fulfillment messages are other features that can improve the user experience of your B2B Ecommerce website.
2. Leverage Technology To Offer Better Services
One of the biggest advantages of B2B Ecommerce over offline selling is the access to remarkable technology. You can use it to automate order refilling, decrease sales cycle length, reduce invoicing errors and offer order tracking features to name a few.
3. Focus On Customer Loyalty
Attracting new customers can cost your B2B Ecommerce up to 5 times more than what it’ll take to retain old ones. So nurturing customer loyalty is a best practice in this field.
You can do that by offering exclusive promotions for regular customers, discounts on yearly or longer contracts and regularly checking in to get reviews on the products.
Some non-direct ways can also help improve customer loyalty. These include offering high-grade website search tools, transparency in pricing and superior shopping experiences such as fast checkouts and quick customer service.
4. Data Is Your Friend. Use It
Analytics plays an important role in B2B Ecommerce website’s success. A great feature of doing business online is that you can have access to data much more easily. Accomplished B2B Ecommerce websites use the data to personalize user experiences, display ads to prospective customers and convert leads to paying customers by solving their pain points.
Analytics can tell you the stage where most visitors abandon the cart. You can then improve it to offer a better experience. Predictive analytics are also helpful to forecast buying trends and prepare your inventory accordingly.
This data can help you cater to unique customer needs and improve website efficiency. B2B Ecommerce website analytics can also help you plan for your expansion and growth as well. That’s possible by looking over the year after year sales comparison, repeated customer data, product engagement and more.
5. Use Multiple Storefronts and Unify Them
For bigger B2B Ecommerce websites, creating multiple storefronts is a good practice. This way, you can separate different products from each other and manage all these from a single dashboard. There are various software and B2B Ecommerce development applications that offer you this feature.
The key here is to unify all your stores to provide the same information, everywhere. If you operate brick and mortar stores as well, then this becomes even more important. You can’t have your customers place an order and later find that the products are out of stock because a certain store’s inventory was not updated in time.
You should also link the various platforms you use to interact with the customers. These can be mobile apps, social media, websites, and Ecommerce stores. You can offer your users a streamlined experience by linking all your channels. This B2B Ecommerce strategy is called Omni channel.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategies
Your B2B Ecommerce website might be dead in the water if you fail to market it properly. Even the best websites need good marketing strategies to make sales. The purpose of marketing is to bring in more customers. Here are 5 of the top B2B Ecommerce marketing strategies you should apply in 2022:
Prioritize Customers Experiences
Customers trust what other people have said about your business more than anything else. So giving your user a great experience on your Ecommerce website and having them leave glowing reviews is a great B2B Ecommerce marketing strategy.
Here are a few ways you can prioritize customer experiences:
- Improve checkout and shopping process.
- Make your website more appealing.
- Add FAQ, reviews and testimonials.
- Offer better customer support.
- Create customer portals where they can track orders, view their order history and other products they might like.
A unique feature of B2B Ecommerce is that the customers here tend to be long term since they usually need the products over and over again. So your relationship with them needs to be solid. And a good review can attract many more customers.
SEO for Your Catalogues and Product Descriptions
Optimizing your B2B Ecommerce website is a marketing strategy that can offer you incredible ROI. For this, you have to create catalogues with original images, detailed product descriptions and helpful additional information.
You should strategically use keywords in the catalogues, descriptions, images and more. That way, your B2B Ecommerce website will pop up in SERP results as the best match for the searcher’s query. Ranking the website will ultimately attract more visitors.
Keywords not only help the search engines understand what your pages are about but also help your users quickly find what they’re looking for.
Social Media Marketing
Using social media for marketing your B2B Ecommerce website not only builds your customer base but also helps you gain insights into your audience. These insights are key to innovating your store and giving your customers what they truly want – thus increasing sales and exposure.
A great marketing strategy to employ for social media is to identify with your customers. If you practice green behaviors in your manufacturing phase and your target users like that, then make sure to highlight that on your platforms. You can also emphasize how great the quality of your products is or how fast your delivery system is.
Just make sure to maintain a unique voice and a uniform presence on all platforms. That way, your customers will recognize your brand anywhere and trust you more.
Go Beyond the Ordinary By Providing Valuable Content
According to the Demand Gen survey in 2020, 81% of early-stage B2B customers find informative content, especially listicle blog posts most relevant. You can use these to convert leads.
That is why The Content Marketing Institute found that 89% of B2B businesses use blog posts or short articles as a key marketing strategy. Content includes more than just blogs. It’s also what descriptions is on your home page, landing pages, user guides, FAQ section and product.
Anyone can list certain products on their B2B Ecommerce website. But your business can stand out if you make your products unique by providing valuable information, distinctive product descriptions or adding exclusive names.
You can also include an educational section to inform your customers about all the features and various uses of your projects. Or create a blog or YouTube channel to simply educate visitors about the industry trends.
Checkup on Your Customers
Checking up on your customers is an effective B2B Ecommerce marketing strategy. It shows your customers that you care and it’s also a great way to inform them of promotions and new additions to the catalogues. Or to send them discount codes for repeat orders.
Today’s customers are mostly Millennials and they prefer texts or email so that’s what you should use to check in with your customers. You can use this approach to also gather testimonials to display on your B2B Ecommerce website.
This is also known as re-targeting. That’s when you follow up on a website visitor that left without making a purchase. And you show them specific ads based on your analytics to convert them to customers.
Final Thoughts on B2B Ecommerce Best Practices & Marketing Strategies
You can significantly improve your business by following the best practices and marketing strategies mentioned in this article. Selling online is different from physical stores. So you need to leverage technology to improve user experiences.
Creating a solid social media presence, uploading unique content and adding customer reviews are some of the best marketing strategies for B2B Ecommerce.
But above all that, your Ecommerce website needs to be state-of-the-art. Customer expectations have changed due to the advancements in websites and apps. There is a lot more to explore in the B2B Ecommerce industry in addition to what we’ve covered above.