"For today's B2B entrepreneurs, an e-commerce platform is therefore increasingly crucial for a successful business."
Ties Luijendijk, Business Consultant
Online purchases are increasing
B2B ecommerce platforms are becoming increasingly crucial
Why a B2B ecommerce platform is indispensable
Nowadays it is impossible to imagine the purchasing process without webshops. In 2018, 96% of Dutch consumers made one or more online purchases of products and services. However, ecommerce platforms are not only popular with consumers, but also with business buyers.
The B2B ecommerce trends for 2019 show that there are more and more young buyers in the B2B market. This rejuvenation is accompanied by a change in the purchasing process, which is increasingly taking place via online channels. For today's B2B entrepreneurs, an ecommerce platform is therefore increasingly crucial for a successful business.
Benefits of B2B ecommerce
With a professional ecommerce platform you can focus on challenges within the B2B industry. Challenges such as sales employees who spend a lot of time processing repeat orders and generating more sales from existing customers. With an online sales channel you can focus on this and perhaps take a lead on your competitors.
Advantage 1. Self-service
B2B buyers can orient themselves online, place an order, monitor the order status and carry out repeat purchases. They can go through the entire purchasing process without the intervention of a sales or support employee. Futhermore, order processing is largely automated. With an ecommerce platform you give B2B buyers more independence so that the sales department has more time for the acquisition of new customers.
There is also a need from B2B buyers for more independence and self-service. 72% of them indicate that they want to be able to serve themselves via an ecommerce platform with access to an account environment and access to orders. However, it is important that you continue to maintain human interaction with your current customers. Good online customer service, personalized recommendations and contact moments can ensure this.
Benefit 2. Cross and upselling through personalized recommendations
A professional B2B ecommerce platform offers the possibility of cross selling and upselling through personalized recommendations. This way you can generate more revenue from existing customers. The chance to sell existing customers something is 60-70%. With cross and up selling it is important not to offer too many related products and only show products that match the buying intent and spending pattern of a buyer.
Since you get to know your customer increasingly better with an ecommerce platform, you can make more targeted cross and upselling recommendations. For example, coffee brand
Benefit 3. Stay one step ahead of your competitors
Despite the fact that online B2B purchases are increasing and more B2B entrepreneurs are rolling out an ecommerce platform, the development of this is still lagging behind that of B2C ecommerce. By making the switch to digital, you have the chance that you can gain an advantage over your competitor(s). An online purchasing process is the future of B2B. Forrester predicts that 13.1% of B2B purchases will be made online in two years.
Learnings from B2C ecommerce
Research firm Forrester indicates that B2B buyers, just like consumers, need a platform that is easy to use, visually and customer-friendly. A static platform where you recognize products by the product number instead of a product photo is therefore a thing of the past. What does your customer, the next generation B2B buyer, want to see? Forrester mentions a number of B2C ecommerce functionalities that B2B ecommerce platforms can implement to make their platform more customer-friendly. The most important?
- Reviews! B2B buyers also don’t want to make the wrong decision, just like other customers. They often read the experiences of others when making their choice.
- An advanced search function. With a (often) large product range, searching for the right product on B2B ecommerce platforms can be complex and time-consuming.
- Personalization: previously mentioned, but too important to leave out of this list. Adjust pages to the real-time buying behavior of visitors and make personal recommendations with the help of cross and up selling to increase the order value.
- Use QAs, explanation videos and chatbots to guide customers on your platform. This way you answer the need from your customers for self-service and you take pressure away from your support department.
Always keep in mind that a B2B buyer is often just a consumer who visits webshops in his spare time. They are used to good customer service, fast delivery, personalization and visualization. So they have the same expectations of your B2B ecommerce platform.
Differences with B2C ecommerce
Although we can learn a lot from B2C ecommerce in terms of consumer experience, there are also a number of important differences between B2B and B2C ecommerce you have to keep in mind. Differences such as:
- B2B buyers place repeat purchases more often than consumers;
- Consumers often order a few products for a low amount, while B2B buyers often place large orders for a large amount;
- For B2B buyers there are often special price agreements, for which an ecommerce platform must be suitable;
- Due to large orders, B2B purchases often have volume discounts;
These are important differences to take into account when developing an ecommerce platform. In the meantime, mature B2B ecommerce platforms that respond to the challenges that B2B companies face have entered the market. A well-known player in this is Virto Commerce.
Technical realization B2B ecommerce platforms
At rb2 we have extensive experience with the technical realization of all kinds of