B2B Ecommerce: What it is and how to use it to reach customers and businesses

Grow your business and reach more customers by switching to B2B eCommerce. Learn why it's beneficial with NuORDER.

Ecommerce has quickly become the best way to reach customers, especially for online businesses. Learn how and why to utilize it even in a B2B industry. This article will cover everything you need to know about B2B eCommerce and how to extend your online reach.

What is a B2B EcommerceBusiness?

B2B is defined as business-to-business (B2B) and eCommerce or electronic commerce is buying and selling goods or services online. Therefore, B2B eCommerce refers to buying and selling products and services online directly between two businesses. Traditionally B2B sales were mostly done in-person, but eCommerce has grown within the B2B markets over the years and has projected to continue growing. The switch for businesses to start utilizing B2B eCommerce was influenced by the need to move online during the pandemic, however, B2B eCommerce has since expanded because of the many benefits such as efficiency. Expanding online sales will result in an increase in the demand for B2B eCommerce platforms. These platforms differ from B2C eCommerce platforms because B2C businesses sell to customers; while B2B eCommerce portal sale transactions are done between either manufacturer and wholesaler or wholesaler and a retailer.  

The Future of B2B Ecommerce

Business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce is growing at unprecedented rates, and experts project it will be the most significant area of eCommerce growth, even over B2C, from 2020 to 2025.

There are several reasons for the pressing need for B2B organizations to grow their online businesses, including

  • Seventy-three percent of B2B buyers are Millennials, and they prefer to buy online, according to Merit.
  • Advances in shipping and mobile technology make it easy for buyers to make purchases with a click of a button.
  • There is robust access to convenient, cloud-based eCommerce platforms.
  • More and more people are buying online, and global e-retail sales should grow to up to $4.8 trillion by 2021.

In short, if retail businesses are to keep up, growing their B2B eCommerce presence is a must.

B2B eCommerce trends

As technology continues to change how businesses reach their customers and more businesses make the move to using eCommerce, there are a few trends expected to surface in the near future. 

  • Personalizing customer experiences: Personalizing products, checkout processes, and pricing for customers is a trend that will continue to change for businesses using B2B eCommerce and their customers. 
  • Consistency across channels: Providing customers with the same experience across all selling channels is one trend that is expected as technology grows. Consistency is using channels like websites, apps, mobile, and in-store to give customers a unified experience.   
  • Analytics: Using an eCommerce platform will help businesses make informed decisions because they will have the ability to view data. 
  • Mobile Use: More and more customers are using mobile and the ability to offer the best in mobile user experiences is important for any eCommerce business. 

Types of B2B eCommerce

In general, there are three B2B eCommerce types. The categories include

Buyer-oriented marketplaces are good for wholesale suppliers as they provide suppliers and manufacturers with the ability to show their products to sellers. The way sellers purchase from suppliers and manufacturers is by bidding. This model is called the buyer-oriented marketplace because there are many buyers and only a few sellers. 

Supplier-oriented is another model that has many buyers and only a few sellers however, businesses sell through directories for online sales. Using a supplier-oriented model means that suppliers selling have control over the pricing and customer experience. 

Intermediary-oriented marketplaces mean that the intermediary controls product catalogs and product information, which provide guidelines to follow. Intermediary-oriented marketplaces involve third parties that match buyers and sellers. 

Stages of B2B eCommerce

Start-up stage

Start-up begins after your product or service has been developed, marketed, then sold to customers. At this stage, businesses are also establishing target audiences and noticing more competitors in their market. 

Growing Stage

This stage is when your business has started to have an increase in profits but still not quite meeting the revenue goals.  The growing stage is when a business has the revenue to cover operating expenses with extra revenue to start considering new opportunities to help grow the business. 

Expansion Stage

The expansion stage is when a B2B eCommerce continues to grow and reach new markets and distribution channels. This stage has slow growth due to more competitors within the market share.  

Maturing Stage

This stage is when a business is still experiencing expansion and growth but at slower rates. Investing in technology and expanding to new markets can benefit a business at this stage. 

Using a B2B eCommerce

Today there are many B2B eCommerce platforms for businesses to choose from. Using a platform is beneficial because it will help create better online experiences with customers. Online sales using B2B eCommerce will help sales increase as businesses are able to reach more customers and fulfill more orders. Although using a B2B eCommerce helps with product listing and sales there are other important ways that a platform can provide. 

Benefits of B2B eCommerce

What better place to start an eCommerce guide than with the advantages of B2B eCommerce? Here is a quick rundown of how B2B eCommerce will benefit your business.

Mobile compatibility

Did you know that mobile traffic is doubling every five years, especially among younger professionals moving into managerial roles? 

With more B2B buyers depending on eCommerce and mobile commerce buying options, it only makes sense for retailers to make their buying platforms mobile compatible.

24/7 availability to your buyers

Fifty-one percent of customers expect businesses to be available around the clock, and 75% want help within five minutes. If companies don’t exist online, it’s impossible to meet these expectations.

Excellent user experience

Since so many decision-makers prefer to make purchases online and via a mobile device, eCommerce is the way to go. eCommerce functionality provides a custom marketplace and leads customers through the sales funnel with intuitive features.

Increased marketing opportunities

When organizations bring their businesses online, it opens the doors to enhanced marketing opportunities. Opportunities included increased visibility in the organic search results through SEO, paid advertising, and content marketing, to name a few.

Reduction in errors

Humans make mistakes, but automated platforms keep business processes running seamlessly and smoothly. This reduction in error results in happy customers and cost savings.

Better customer service and communication

With an excellent B2B eCommerce platform and other wholesale cloud solutions, customers have instant access to answers.

B2B eCommerce best practices

Now that you know some of the top benefits of B2B eCommerce, let’s discuss B2B eCommerce best practices for retailers. If you employ these strategies, your eCommerce business will shine.

Create outstanding buying experiences

What’s better than wholesale prices? That’s right! Discounts on wholesale rates. If you build extra savings and limited-time deals into your B2B eCommerce site, it motivates buyers to purchase quickly. This is a stellar strategy for moving your merchandise regularly.

Another idea to capture more orders is to offer incentives for bulk orders. If you have a reputation for providing good deals, B2B buyers will keep their eyes peeled for your promotions.

Make wholesale ordering, delivery, and billing seamless

One of the best things about eCommerce cloud solutions is they help you streamline your wholesale ordering, delivery, inventory, and billing processes. 

Automating your order management, inventory, and product distribution saves you time, and energy, and helps you reduce error rates significantly. 

If you are still keeping track of your inventory on a spreadsheet, or creating line sheets manually, now is the time to invest in B2B eCommerce and digital tradeshow platforms.

Provide excellent customer service 

As you look into B2B eCommerce functionality, look for a platform that helps you streamline your customer service practices. 

Look for a platform that makes it easy to elicit customer feedback, engage with buyers that need additional help, and foster customer loyalty through excellent customer service.

Make order recommendations

Buyers don’t always have an exact idea of what products they want. It’s up to you to match them with the perfect products and lead them through the sales funnel. 

A surefire way to make more sales is to provide excellent order recommendations based on products your buyers are viewing. A B2B eCommerce platform automates the process of what equates to selling add-ons at a tradeshow in retail sales.

Platform criteria for choosing a B2B eCommerce

Now that you know what B2B eCommerce is and the multitude of advantages it provides to help grow a business it helps to know what criteria to look for within a platform.

When choosing a  B2B eCommerce platform, it is important to choose one that aligns with your business. When considering what your business needs it will help your research for a platform that provides the best tools to enhance your business. Next, consider if the platform provides the right support for business growth. As more and more B2B eCommerce businesses make the transition to eCommerce platforms it is essential to choose a platform with growth in mind. Where do you envision your business for the future and will the platform support that growth? Read more about the essential features we recommend for B2B eCommerce solutions here.    

How to attract new wholesale buyers online with >B2B eCommerce

It’s no secret that the retail industry trends toward in-person events. However, with the advent of B2B eCommerce and wholesale technology, and recent efforts to limit in-person contact, it makes sense to move retail wholesale online. 

The question on the top of every retailer’s mind is, “what is the best way to attract new wholesale buyers online?”

Let’s cover some ways you can use B2B eCommerce and wholesale platforms for this purpose.

Create compelling, eye-catching virtual showrooms and campaigns

If one thing is true about retail buyers it’s that they are enchanted with visuals and gorgeous aesthetics. Use your eCommerce platform to your advantage to impress your buyers.

You can do this by creating beautiful line sheets, investing in 360-degree product photography, and designing your virtual showrooms that speak to your buyers. 

When it comes to creating beautiful digital marketing campaigns, use color, contrast, type, and other design elements along with compelling copy and clear calls to action.

Offer exclusive new-buyer discounts

We already talked about the importance of offering promotions to your buyers. If you’re looking to attract new buyers, give them a new-buyer offer they can’t refuse. 

Another idea is to give prospects a new-buyer gift. You can also plan on giving more significant gifts for bulk orders.

Use the one-time discount or gift as a way to entice new customers to buy your products. If they love your products, they will keep coming back for more.

Build a referral program

The value of a referral is unmatched. Referred customers’ LTV is 16% higher than non-referred customers, and referral customers have a 37% higher retention rate. 

Incentivize your already loyal customers to refer other buyers by offering rewards or discounts every time they bring you a new buyer.

Get started with B2B eCommerce today with the NuORDER wholesale platform.

B2B eCommerce is booming right now and is projected to grow continually. Brands that don’t want to be left in the dust must work towards building their online stores and virtual wholesale showrooms. For more information about NuORDER, visit our site today.

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NuORDER is dedicated to providing thoughtful, informative B2B eCommerce industry insights. Brands use NuORDER's platform to deliver a seamless, more collaborative wholesale process, where buyers can browse products, plan assortments and make smarter buys in real-time.