B2B eCommerce Website
eCommerce for Distribution
B2B eCommerce is not B2C eCommerce
While B2B eCommerce itself can take many forms, whether that be a sales portal, a spare parts site, or even simply an online catalog, one thing is certain: B2B eCommerce is not B2C eCommerce. Beyond large catalog requirements, complex product offerings sometimes requiring custom configuration, kitting, bundling, or custom part numbers alone can be enough to differentiate from B2C. Add in contract-negotiated pricing for customers, geographically restricted product offerings, volume discounts, and you can further delineate between the requirements of a B2B versus B2C eCommerce experience.
Beyond platform needs, there is a fundamental difference in how a B2B buyer wants to interact with an eCommerce experience. Quite often, B2B customers are there to buy, not shop. They are doing their jobs, and would like to do so in the most informative, efficient manner. This is why customer experience features differ when targeted towards the B2B buyer. Efficiency tools such as a quick order pad or simple reorder from their order history allows past purchasers and those familiar with their product identifiers to go from home page to checkout in the least number of steps possible. Flexible and customer-specific product taxonomy of a website allows for users to navigate the product catalog available to them in the way that makes most sense, whether that be my manufacturer, application, fit, or simple category. Furthermore, a robust search experience that allows users to search not only products, but categories and content by a multitude of attributes, product identifiers, even customer-specific part numbers simplifies the path to purchase B2B buyers desire.
The B2B eCommerce opportunity is unique in that it fills a variety of needs and goals for distributors. The oft-cited statistic of the “B2B eCommerce Opportunity” is that the global B2B online selling market is at least twice that of the B2C market, coming in at $6.7T+ per year by 2020. But an increase in revenue isn’t the only opportunity for manufacturers and distributors using a B2B eCommerce solution. Reducing the cost to serve any given customer by enabling self-service options previously fulfilled by internal customer service representatives, salespeople, and other staff can be moved online to be accessible by customers any time of the day, no matter where they are. Price and stock availability checks, status of an open order, freight tracking, and RMAs are just some of the many self-service options available to a customer through eCommerce.
Better yet, the time being saved can be used by the sales team to better serve the customers, by introducing new product lines, complimentary items, or simply using the time to reach out to more customers. B2B eCommerce also allows customers an easy way to research additional product lines you offer that may be complimentary to their business. Using merchandising features such as crosssell, up-sell, accessories, installation materials, or recently viewed product modules on product detail pages assist in presenting more of your catalog to customers who may have not otherwise been exposed to them. with strategic product bundling, kitting, and promotional offers, and the possibilities for expanding your share-of-wallet for any given customer increases.
Easily expand your company’s current geographical service area by opening up your eCommerce site to more of the country. Previous limitations of where branches or sales people are located are no longer an issue, so long as shipping and freight costs are manageable.