B2B e-commerce has grown considerably. In 2021, online sales through B2B e-commerce sites, login portals, and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion, from $1.39 trillion in 2020.
E-commerce sales provide B2B vendors with plenty of opportunities, but an online storefront is only the beginning.
What follows are seven essential tips every B2B vendor must know when developing an e-commerce strategy.
1. Create a B2C experience
Like B2C consumers, B2B buyers have been spoiled with highly convenient features that have become table stakes in e-commerce.
For example, buyers can now easily sort and filter products, add products to carts, and check out. They also have immediate access to bestsellers, alerts of sales and new arrivals, and product reviews that inform buying decisions.
The B2B consumer is the same as a B2C consumer, only with a larger budget. If we don't give them the same type of convenience they're used to, they will go to competitors.
To mimic the B2C shopping experience, make it easy to find products, easy to reach support, and easy to check out.
2. Get into marketplaces
More and more, B2B buyers are using online marketplaces. B2B vendors have no choice but to follow suit. They'll need to do what B2C sellers have already been doing for years: expand their distribution channels through marketplaces their customers can buy from daily.
Amazon and Walmart, most notably, are among the marketplaces with the greatest reach. Some marketplaces are open, whereas others (such as Target) are invite-only.
As competition grows on the standard marketing platforms (e.g., Google Ads and Meta) and cost-per-click rates increase, profitability becomes increasingly challenging to achieve; vendors must get into new marketing and selling platforms.
3. Optimize for mobile
As of 2018, 50% of B2B queries were being made on smartphones. Because B2B buyers research and buy goods on the go, B2B vendors must optimize their websites for mobile use.
An unoptimized mobile site means losing a potential customer. Information should be organized cleanly, with no clutter, and tap targets or buttons must be large enough to be visible and useful.
Mobile-friendly websites should be more responsive by showing only pages pertinent to the transaction. Blog pages, About us pages, and other irrelevant pages that usually show on desktop should not appear on mobile.
The checkout process needs to be easy and seamless, including guided steps, multiple payment options, and the ability to easily set up a business profile.
4. Personalize the shopping experience
A full 50% of B2B buyers identified the feature of improved personalization as key when searching for online suppliers with whom to build relationships.
The cost of goods and inflation will continue to rise, so we need to increase customer lifetime value (LTV). Custom recommendations based on search, purchase history, and company history are necessary.
Customer relationship management is crucial in keeping B2B customers. With so many options in every e-commerce industry, not having an excellent and dedicated customer rep can mean losing customers to your competitors.
5. Market on social media
Social media is an important marketing channel in B2B e-commerce. Some 46% of B2B buyers use social media to find available solutions, 40% use it to compare solutions, and 35% use it to learn more before completing a purchase.
Today, social media platforms are moving increasingly toward e-commerce. Meta, for one, has made it extremely easy to run B2B-type ads with targeting options such as job function, industry, title, and company. You can also quickly check out within the platform itself.
Considering its large user base, Meta is a must for B2B companies.
6. Optimize internal sales systems
In the face of tougher competition, internal systems should be as efficient and easy to use as possible. If we cannot recommend and give our customers the exact products at the right time, they will go to competitors.
Optimizing internal sales systems empowers sales reps to engage with buyers efficiently and effectively.
For example, through the analysis of online sales data, B2B vendors can find out who has bought what. Such information offers great opportunities for sales reps to reach out successfully to VIP customers, highly profitable repeat buyers, or even high-revenue buyers who may have gone dormant during COVID.
That will increase average order value (AOV), LTV, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
7. Open a customer portal for easy repurchases
B2B buyers will make repeat purchases if it's easy to do so. Customer portals are powerful ways of facilitating those repurchases. Portals give buyers access to their accounts and enable them to reorder items from their order history. Businesses can reward repeat purchasers with discounts or credits.
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There is more to successful B2B e-commerce than setting up an online store with prices and product descriptions. Driven mainly by the convenience they have gotten used to in the B2C consumer space, buyers expect seamless and convenient engagement from B2B vendors.
B2B e-commerce strategies need to offer a B2C-like shopping experience and get into new marketplaces. They must optimize for mobile. They need to personalize the shopping experience, market themselves on social media, empower their sales reps through their internal sales data, and make online customer portals available.
More Resources on B2B E-Commerce Strategy
Five Tips for Tackling B2B E-Commerce Without Amazon
Tips for Improving the B2B E-Commerce Experience
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