So, this morning I stumbled upon a nifty infographic on Mashable.com that shows the top five things that people intend to purchase via ecommerce in the near future. Here’s a slice of the infographic:
At first glance, it appears that this top 5 strictly applies to Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transactions, but with a bit of thought it’s easy to see how they could also apply to Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions as well.
Here are some thoughts on how B2B companies that serve each of the five markets might get ahead of the curve to service their B2B customers.
- Books. Books are probably the hardest to pin down in the world of B2B business–but if you look closely, they’re there. In the past year, I’ve ordered a number of business-related books and resources for my B2B job via online stores. I’ve always searched for the cheapest price and the best shipping offer, rather than being loyal to one site. What if online book retailers created a B2B membership program that discounted business orders by a set percentage and offered free shipping to encourage B2B buyers to purchase from them? Such a program would definitely keep me coming back for future purchases.
- Clothing. In the world of B2B, clothing might include purchasing employee uniforms and logo apparel for sporting teams or big brands. Regardless of the reason, B2B clothing purchases are likely to be in large quantity and potentially on a reoccurring basis. With that in mind, your B2B ecommerce site needs to make it easy to order in bulk. Quick order capability—where your customer can simply enter in one SKU after another to place his order—is also essential.
- Airline Tickets. Business people travel all the time and while the individuals might participate in your loyalty plans, businesses are starting to scrutinize purchases and bar those that are made based on loyalty program alone. What could you do to make B2B travel purchases easier to manage for your target company and provide the loyalty services the individuals require? This might be the perfect opportunity to create a “business approved” loyalty program providing the best price all the time for specific hub cities. The individual would still reap the rewards of flying with you, but the company would be assured that they are always getting the best possible pricing.
- Electronic Equipment. In the world of B2B business, electronics sales means laptops, desk top computers, monitors, printers and all the necessary cables for each device. It could also include laptop bags, portable projectors, and smart phones. Chances are good that if you are already serving this niche with online ordering, you offer negotiated pricing and a list of “approved” products. Does your ecommerce site offer quick order by product SKU? What about bundling associated products—for example, grouping a laptop with the approved laptop bag and wireless mouse?
- Hotel Reservations. Again, business people travel–a lot. As suggested above for airlines, hotels could subscribe to a “business approved” loyalty program that assures that your B2B customers get the lowest price, the traveler gets the associated rewards points, and you guarantee that more of your rooms are full on a consistent basis.
Ecommerce is growing steadily with more and more purchases being made online in both the B2C and B2B markets. As a B2B ecommerce retailer, it’s essential to keep an eye on what the B2C companies are doing and looking for savvy ways to apply their innovations and trends to your business model.