Too often, marketing and promotions are often thought of as tactics strictly in the territory of business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce, when in reality, business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce is quickly adopting robust on-site marketing and promotions as an ecommerce growth strategy. B2B organizations that are not taking advantage of this way to grow their businesses are missing out a critical way to boost their conversion rates, increase average cart size, and drive sales.
While borrowing on-site marketing and promotional techniques from B2C ecommerce is a great idea, B2B organizations must be aware that some promotional techniques will be more effective than others based on criteria and customer-specific considerations unique to B2B organizations. What makes B2B ecommerce promotions and marketing different from B2C promotions? A number of things–namely, B2B ecommerce is more complex. While B2C ecommerce sites can present site visitors with a blanket offer of “buy one widget and get one (BOGO) 50% off,” B2B organizations have additional criteria to consider when creating a special promotion. For example, marketing efforts and promotional offers for B2B customers must take the following into consideration:
- Customer-specific pricing. In most cases, B2C organizations are likely to sell a given product at a set price, regardless of who is buying. On rare occasions quantity discounts may be available to customers, but these are typically offered with set quantities and pricing and are available to any purchaser who buys the appropriate quantity of products. B2B organizations, on the other hand, are likely to sell products in different quantities and at different price points. Therefore, it is not unlikely that the same product could be sold to different customers at different price points based on volume discounts or negotiated pricing. With this in mind, a blanket promotion on widgets of BOGO 50% off for all customers might render the second widget free and eat up the profit on the first for some customers if their negotiated price is low enough to being with.
- Units of measure. It’s not abnormal for a B2B organization to sell its products in multiple units of measure. For example, a company that supplies toilet paper to businesses might sell toilet paper in cases, in pallets or skids, or by the truckload. (Under certain circumstances, they might even sell toilet paper in shelf keeping units (SKUs), such as a 12-roll package.) While it might be feasible to offer the customer who orders a case of toilet paper a second case at half price, it’s probably not prudent to make the same offer to the customer who buys TP by the truckload.
- Fulfillment capacity. Every manufacturer and distributor has to consider the capacity of its fulfillment centers to before it offers a promotion to its customers–whether for a business or consumer audience. An ill-planned promotion can devistate any business and effectively shut down fulfillment, but a truckload sale for a B2B organization could effectively wipe out stock or overload a fulfillment center much faster than a consumer-based promotion. Therefore, the stock levels and fulfillment center capacity must always be considered when planning a B2B ecommerce promotion.
Complexity within the B2B sales process should not limit a B2B organization’s ability to use ecommerce promotions and marketing to drive online sales. Instead, careful consideration of the specifics of each promotion and how that promotion will impact both the customer and the organization will help to mitigate any risk and produce the most effective promotion possible.