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What is B2B e-Commerce and Why Should YOU Care?

September 16, 2016 By Stacey Woods

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Now is a time of transformation for B2B markets. Up until recently, all of the buying and selling that took place between businesses took place offline. Simply put, B2B e-commerce is the online buying and selling of goods between businesses – typically manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.

Since B2B e-commerce is relatively new, sites mimic the processes and functionality of their close and well-established neighbors, B2C sites. There is a subtle but critical difference between B2B e-commerce and B2C e-commerce: B2B is targeted at an intermediary buyer who then sells the product to the consumer. This makes the functionality and processes of B2C very different to B2B e-commerce.

Leading merchandise being bought and sold through B2B e-commerce includes consumer electronics, motor vehicle parts, petrochemicals, office supplies, and agricultural products. While these products certainly aren’t being sold online for the first time – the majority have been available for sale via B2C sites for more than 10 years – businesses that sell to wholesalers and retailers are beginning to embrace the simplicity and efficiency of moving their business practices online as well.

There are 3 critical ingredients for a successful B2B e-commerce site:

1. Ease-of-use

Your B2B customers must be able to easily interact with your site and quickly order goods so they will come back and order again and again. Pay special attention to the user experience of your product catalog presentation and navigation, and use high-definition images that showcase your products and your brand. You will need the flexibility to present different catalogs to different customers, present only the goods that you have in stock, and promote your most profitable items with greatest visibility, all while maintaining a B2C-like user experience in your B2B e-commerce solutions.

2. Flexibility in Pricing

In B2C e-commerce sites consumers are offered products at fixed prices (that may be reduced in a special promotion). In B2B e-commerce however, transactions between businesses often vary based on volume, delivery dates, inventory at hand, season, customer business profile, and more. Your B2B e-commerce site must be flexible enough to allow different pricing based on these and other criteria.

With dynamic pricing, B2B e-commerce provides the flexibility to change product pricing based on any number of business factors. For example, if a manufacturer is low in inventory on a particular product in, it can decide to raise the price, thereby decreasing demand and increasing margins.

Take advantage of your intimacy with your market, your inventory, and your customer’s behaviors to adjust price points for optimal margins.

3. Integration with Business Systems

Most B2B e-commerce trends sites will integrate with their other business systems, such as ERP or accounting systems, to increase productivity and efficiency in the order management and order fulfillment processes. This ensures that data for products, customers, sales orders, invoices, pricing, etc., is synced across your systems. When your sales, marketing, and back-office staff are on the same page with one reliable integrated system, communication is fluid and costly mistakes are minimized.

Jump on the Bandwagon!

If you’re a manufacturer or wholesaler that sells branded goods to retailers through a field sales force, and you’ve not yet embraced B2B e-commerce, now is the time…chances are that your customers are spending big bucks at your competitors’ e-commerce sites. Learn more how you can start building your B2B e-commerce site today.