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B2B Ecommerce: Breaking Boundaries in a Rapidly Changing World

B2B Ecommerce: Breaking Boundaries in a Rapidly Changing World

Business-to-business (B2B) organizations are transitioning from conventional selling and primary online ordering portals to a complete digital commerce channel. There are various challenges to overcome, as well as characteristics and functionalities that should be in place before they start the endeavor. While B2B companies can learn a lot from business-to-consumer (B2C) sites in building a seamless customer experience, B2B selling is fundamentally different and more complicated than B2C ecommerce. Where B2C companies mainly market and sell straight to customers, B2B companies usually deal with complex business models that include different kinds of customers, such as distributors, suppliers, resellers, and partners.

Considerations for B2B Organizations 

  • Focus on technical skills 
  • Analyze strategic variations  
  • Market to new customers 
  • Educate existing customers  
  • Deal with potential challenges 

It is important to thoroughly map out the business model to guarantee that all processes and capacities needed to maintain the prevailing business and its future growth are fully accounted for. In addition to their specialized skills, B2B companies need to consider strategic variations in selling online. This requires new approaches for drawing in and marketing to new buyers, educating current customers on the latest sales process and dealing with possible challenges linked to channel conflicts.

Customer Demands and the Growth of B2B

Although business-to-business ecommerce is on the rise, the scenario above occurs too often in the present business atmosphere. Shoppers expect online experiences to be pleasant and hassle-free, regardless of how, where, and when they shop. Business buyers are also online shoppers.   

This is important to realize, as the online channel is quickly becoming the go-to source for business ventures. Keeping in mind that business buyers come to B2B sites as part of their operations, it is even more necessary to meet their expectations. 

Keys to Optimizing Your B2B Model

Developing your channel strategy to go direct-to-buyer demands a nuanced approach that fits the overall company goals and appetite for risk. The following are the three keys for optimizing your B2B model and unlocking significant additional revenue from your online commerce program: 

  1. Improved User Experience 

Customer expectation for B2B online commerce has significantly shifted and develops rapidly. Like everyone else, your clients are increasingly spending time on Netflix, Zappos and OfficeMax. These B2C sites compete in customer service, ease of browsing, and an overall online shopping experience that users look for – whether in a B2B or B2C setting.    

It is important to understand how your business buyers are shopping to meet their demands for a fruitful, in-depth shopping experience. One area where B2C online commerce sites typically excel in is their ability to gather relevant data and provide recommendations tailored to each buyer. Identifying the right products or bundles of items to place in front of your business buyer opens tremendous opportunities for up-selling, cross-selling, and cross-promotion. 

Expectations of B2B Customers  

  • Adequate product information 
  • Quality customer service 
  • Ease of browsing 
  • Easy and quick checkout 
  • Improved order tracking 
  • Prompt delivery  
  • Convenient repeat ordering 

2. Subscription and Renewal Revenue 

Channels normally concentrate on only landing that initial sale. They often overlook the customer lifecycle, ignoring possibilities for follow-up sales and other ongoing revenue streams, such as subscriptions and renewals.   

However, an attempt to capture subscription revenue through direct-to-business buyer sales is likely to be viewed as a channel conflict.    

Some sales channels may feel insecure that they are being asked to give up their customers and, in the process, lose possibilities for future sales. The fact is that many resellers are not set up to manage subscription and renewal sales. 

The relationship with the business buyer doesn’t end at the initial sale – it’s only beginning.  

A direct online channel can more adequately service customers. Resellers can be compensated for the loss in likely sales by an annuity-like revenue stream. It is seen that some well-established businesses employ this type of system. It results in improved renewal rates, lower channel costs, and closer connections with customers – all while freeing resellers to pursue more substantial, more profitable sales. 

3. Closing Open Niches 

Various B2B sales platforms that companies depend on deliver meaningful value doing what they do best, like pursuing enterprise sales and large group orders. But this may also be leaving substantial money on the table by overlooking trivial orders—everything from small businesses to individual requests from inside large organizations.    

The few sales channels companies depend on to deliver revenue, both internally and externally, are typically built to focus on large orders. Their compensation formations, order processing, sales training, and management are specifically devised towards fulfilling these orders. Some channels, whether resellers or internal sales units, often even have minimum ordersize requirements.   

Tapping into New Niches 

  • Builds valuable one-on-one relationships 
  • Adds new revenue 
  • Leads to new opportunities 

Capturing smaller customers and orders requires coordinating ordering, payment processing, invoicing, and supply chain with your existing infrastructure. When done correctly, following untapped niches can add up to significant new revenue. This also develops invaluable one-on-one relationships with business buyers that lead to new opportunities. 

Evolving the Ecosystem 

Many companies also adapt their internal sales channels as they become dependent on the existing ecosystem. However, at some point, it becomes kind of bottleneck, restricting the business from fully understanding the possibilities for sales and preventing channel evolution.    

Business buyers swiftly develop in terms of where, when, and how they want to make their B2B investments. Your commerce ecosystem needs to evolve with them to meet those changing expectations. In an extensively competitive market, you must make sure that you are not only capturing those buys but also optimizing the revenue potential from every sale.  

Optimizing B2B online commerce can be challenging. It necessitates buy-in from many parts of the organization, as well as external partners with whom you have long-standing associations.  

Selecting the Right B2B eCommerce Platform 

Managing the complexities of B2B commerce has, so far, been challenging for many businesses, chiefly due to the shortage of tools and platforms that appropriately support the required workflow and complicated business rules. 

  • Lately, we have seen a growing number of existing and new eCommerce channels introduce tools explicitly tailored to the B2B channel. B2B organizations should look for platforms that offer the essential abilities required while providing the flexibility to accommodate their business model demands.   
  • A strong B2B solution offers business buyers the same information and features that they would receive if they were communicating with a sales agent or customer service department.   
  • A successful eCommerce platform draws from the lessons acquired for B2C and offer front-end functionality that reflects B2C online experiences.   
  • Deploying a platform from a company that also offers a B2C solution has its benefits, as proven B2C functionality is already integrated and easily available.   

No matter which platform is picked, the first step is to carefully map out business models and sales processes to identify the capabilities needed to support the business.

Accelerate Growth and Improve Efficiency  

The online channel is increasingly becoming the favored source for business buyers. It contributes to the growth of B2B eCommerce and the increase in technology solutions tailored to address the complexities of business selling. B2B organizations must consider the online channel to stimulate growth and gain efficiencies.   

Despite the apparent opportunity, many B2B organizations have been slow to launch or develop the ecommerce channel. Typically, B2B organizations are reluctant due to several barriers. These limitations include potential channel conflicts, channelization of existing channels, disruption of prevailing business, and technology concerns. Overlooking customer demands is no longer an option.    

Limitations of B2B 

  • Potential channel conflicts 
  • channelization of existing channels 
  • Disruption of prevailing business, 
  • Technology concerns 

The key to success is to thoroughly comprehend the complexities of the business model and focus on the best approach. Businesses must ensure organizational alignment and map out technology needs to support themselves. It is possible, based on this strategy, to select an ecommerce program that helps the complexities of B2B selling while being flexible enough to support the intricacies of business models. 

Keys to Success for B2B: 

  • Derive value 
  • Build your accounts 
  • Deliver insights to clients 
  • Lessen risk perceived by the buyer 
  • Be enterprising 
  • Intensify sales productivity 
  • Enhance your B2B sales skills 

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