Business to business (B2B) ecommerce is certainly different to its retail (business to consumer or B2C) counterpart.
While both enable online transactions with customers, B2C ecommerce supports sales to consumers who can research and purchase online quickly and simply. In contrast, more than seven out of 10 buyers say the B2B purchasing process is complex.
Business buyers depend on longer sales cycles and order more complicated products than consumers. As a result, the business systems that support B2B ecommerce transactions and sales administration differ in scope, scale, and cost. Choosing the right ecommerce platform to streamline digital sales for your B2B company is an important step.
The pandemic in 2020 has changed many things, including B2B buyers’ opinions about online purchases. For example, more than seven out of 10 B2B buyers and decision makers now prefer digital self-service and remote sales to face-to-face interactions. During 2020 they discovered that it was easier to find information, place orders, and arrange service, quickly and conveniently.
To meet these expectations many B2B organizations are now consolidating their 2020 implementation of ecommerce with a more strategic and integrated approach for the future.
Changing buyer behavior
Some industry sectors such as medical supplies and hygiene products have been catapulted into unprecedented growth during the pandemic. In these sectors investment in digital technologies to support growth is an easy case to make. It might even be an essential step to keep pace with competitors.
However, luxury clothing and travel, for example, have been under pressure and are not yet seeing strong signs for recovery. Arguably, it’s more important than ever for businesses in these sectors to take advantage of the improved efficiency that can be delivered through a digital transformation strategy.
The power of workflows
When you use data in the right way customer experiences (CX) can be dramatically improved. One of the big advantages of B2B ecommerce is the opportunity it offers to streamline operations which will also improve ordering and fulfillment processes.
This can include sophisticated recommendations and personalized promotions that will help you to cross-sell and up-sell to your customers, based on their preferences.
Flexible shipping options can be a competitive advantage, so having an end to end view of your business to make sure every step is coordinated and controlled is essential.
B2B buyers are looking for options that fit with their business, so the pressure is now on sellers to meet their needs. While some companies prefer purchases shipped to a specific address, others might want to buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), or choose curbside pickup.
Integrating fulfillment and third party logistics (3PL) will improve the flow of order information and business data between your shipping partner and your back-office systems.
Choosing the right channels
During the last year over half of direct to consumer (D2C) brands have seen increased demand. The pandemic has shifted many B2B selling activities online and has also introduced alternative selling models that could breathe new life into B2B operations by improving customer experiences.
This also includes brand consistency across multiple online and offline channels and mobile commerce. Whether orders are placed using multiple devices on the move, email, or social media, you will need to deliver the same standard of customer service. Integration with additional payment providers, various invoicing options, and tailored shipping services will add to your site’s distinctiveness in the market.
Streamlined implementation of your B2B ecommerce solution
To make implementation of your B2B ecommerce solution as streamlined as possible, integration with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system will provide you with a single source of truth for your whole business.
Your ERP system can combine information about inventory from your warehouse with customer data, orders, invoices, and a range of business processes. This can be shared with your ecommerce platform and other internal and external business systems.
Since your B2B buyers want more control over their purchasing experiences with as little friction as possible this level of integration will allow you to meet their needs with a powerful, personalized self-service portal. This can include easy reordering for regular purchases, requests for quotes and customer-specific pricing.
You can offer options that will notify your buyers when items are back in stock, update their order status, and connect them with your sales professionals. When your solution is easy and intuitive to use for your buyers and back-office staff you will be able to offer competition-beating levels of service.
Choose a purpose-designed B2B ecommerce solution
Cloudfy was designed from the beginning to meet the needs of B2B ecommerce companies. It is a software as a service (SaaS) solution that is scalable to meet the needs of your business as it grows.
It has integrations with leading business systems available out of the box, minimizing the need for customizations. If you have specialist requirements its powerful application programming interface will allow you to tailor your solution.